Petya Petrova - Fotolia


How to make an inevitable SharePoint 2010 migration painless

Don't get caught off guard by Microsoft's eventual retirement of its SharePoint 2010 CMS. Prepare for the inevitable with these tips on the migration process.

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 isn't dead yet, but the clock is moving toward the day when Microsoft will no longer support this version of its workflow and document management tool.

Organizations must make some big decisions about how they will continue to share and store documents once Microsoft stops providing technical support and much-needed security patches on Oct. 13, 2020. Organizations that want to continue using SharePoint should move to a later version, such as SharePoint 2019, to ensure continued support.

The end of SharePoint 2010 shouldn't worry organizations as long as they view the deadline as an opportunity to take stock of how they use their content management system (CMS) and plan how they would like to use it in the future.

Organizations will see strong ROI with a SharePoint 2010 migration to another system, whether they move to a cloud service, such as Microsoft 365, or a new on-premises CMS, said Hunter Willis, product marketing manager at AvePoint, a company in Jersey City, N.J., that offers migration services for SharePoint.

"It's like holding onto a reliable pickup truck from the late 1980s; you don't need to buy a new one now, but you can see the end is coming," he said. "When is it worth putting the energy forward to prepare for that new truck?"

Here are several things for content managers to keep in mind before an enterprise says farewell to SharePoint 2010.

Know you're not alone

First, don't feel guilty about using a CMS that's nearly a decade old. SharePoint 2010 still works well for many organizations, making it one of the most popular CMS offerings.

Some organizations haven't migrated to Microsoft Office 365 or new SharePoint versions because they became too dependent on the 2010 version, particularly because of the assumption that the on-premises version offers better security than the cloud, Willis said.

The cost and potential headaches of migration outweigh the cons of using an old CMS for some organizations, he said. Soon, they will have no choice but to move.

Don't do anything new on your old CMS

It might be tempting to act as though October 2020 is in the distant future, but it isn't. Your organization shouldn't entirely abandon SharePoint 2010 right away, but it should avoid using the product to create anything significant.

You don't have to perform a SharePoint 2010 migration before you find a home for new functions if new CMS tools are already at your disposal. Say you're creating a library or team site that will be used often. You can do so on Office 365, which has become a capable CMS for many functions, said Ryan Duguid, chief evangelist at Nintex, a process management and workflow automation company in Bellevue, Wash.

If your company is proactive and has already licensed a new SharePoint version, take advantage of that new workspace, Duguid said. Odds are that most current documents and processes will eventually migrate to that new version or Office 365 anyway.

Make the decision sooner rather than later

Arguably, the most important decision is what will replace SharePoint 2010. You might want to migrate to Office 365, which bundles in SharePoint Online, if you don't anticipate customizing many SharePoint functions, because this version doesn't offer much customization, or if you don't have to meet any compliance requirements.

There are four ways to migrate data from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint Online:

  • a migration tool;
  • an object-oriented automated engine version of the migration tool, known as PowerShell;
  • OneDrive, a sync client; or
  • a manual upload.
Microsoft does not provide a simple, native way to migrate across on-premises versions.
Hunter WillisProduct marketing manager, AvePoint

Microsoft provides a tool to migrate from SharePoint to Office 365, but organizations can choose a third-party provider to offer more features and support. Companies that are undergoing a Sharepoint 2010 migration to another on-premises version of SharePoint should use a migration tool, Willis said.

"Microsoft does not provide a simple, native way to migrate across on-premises versions," Willis said.

Take inventory of functions, data

As you choose a new CMS, review all the ways your organization uses SharePoint 2010 and decide which functions will be relevant in the future, Willis said. New features on your new CMS will replace current ones, so ensure the replacements are compatible and will perform just as capably as the ones you've come to rely on, he said. You might also need to reproduce some functions because the new CMS' offerings might not meet your satisfaction.

"It's all about understanding everything in the new environment so you can get the most out of it," Willis said.

Migration is the ideal time to dump data you don't need. Scan all data, and decide what to move and what to leave behind, Willis said.

Reviewing SharePoint functions and reviewing your data go hand in hand, so the process should include a study of how data is structured throughout the functions. For example, if only HR has access to HR information on SharePoint, will that continue in the new version? Talk to each department to learn their needs and expectations, Willis said.

Be mindful of custom applications

A lot of organizations have stuck with SharePoint 2010 because that version was an era with a lot of custom apps built on the platform, Duguid said.

Your impending SharePoint 2010 migration is the ideal time to look at the most frequently used business apps, he said. If they are not still current and managing the business's needs, consider hitting the delete button.

Be particularly mindful of custom apps if you're performing a SharePoint 2010 migration to Office 365, because any custom codes you wrote will not apply due to a fundamentally different app model, Druguid said. Instead, you'll need to build a custom cloud app that is specific to Office 365 and retrain staff on how to rebuild applications.

Migration is easier than planning

Migration itself is the last and shortest part of your big move. The prep work can take as long as 19 months for large organizations, Willis said.

A professional service can help sort through what needs to migrate, which functions can remain on premises -- including some SharePoint functions that you can still use in 2010 even though it's nearing sunset -- and which data to archive, he said.

Dig Deeper on Content collaboration

Business Analytics
Data Management