Migrating SharePoint to Cloud or Latest On-Premise Version (Part I – Business Need)


At Bitwise, we have been part of content migration projects (like moving content from Lotus Notes to SharePoint or from other content management tools to SharePoint), custom SharePoint application development and SharePoint migration to any on-prem version or directly to cloud, for over a decade and we have seen all that can go well or bad during such projects.

I want to take this opportunity to share our experiences that have made us sit back and think “is there a more effective way to handle this” whenever we come across roadblocks. Eventually, in most cases, we have found an effective way and have invested in these ideas to create a number of automations, accelerators, and utilities that make migration more organized and time boxed.

Some of the automations are part of the analysis phase and help organization to understand the scope of work. Just evaluating what needs to be migrated is sometimes a daunting task and a project in itself. In the past, we realized not having an automated way to evaluate the inventory was a gap and now we have accelerators to get the inventory out quickly and in a presentable format that helps organizations make quick decisions. Once there is an understanding of the true scope, it always becomes easier than trying to achieve a moving target.

SharePoint Migration Strategy

As part of the migration lifecycle, there are always a number of tasks to consider before going down the journey of migrating to the next version of SharePoint. It is beneficial to understand the effort or to understand content one has on-premise or wherever it is. We recommend taking an approach that takes an inventory and also helps answer crucial questions like: How many farms do we have? How many site collections do we have? How many sites? Where are they? What is the size of the data? How many custom or out-of-box workflows do we have running on average?

On a high level, the migration strategy should focus on evaluating the content, establish what is priority content, and identify content that does not need to be migrated. The strategy should also include a plan for migration, including data. Bitwise recommends using automated migration utilities to help meet project timelines and costs.

Why Migrate SharePoint to Cloud or Next Version

As mentioned, our experienced SharePoint team has worked on a number of SharePoint development and migration initiatives across different regions, thus have seen quite a few peculiar scenarios.

Migration is always going to range from simple to complex, depending on the size, out of box vs customized solutions, third-party integrations, and of course depending on what you’re doing. You could be looking at going to the cloud with Office 365 or you are upgrading versions of SharePoint and looking to take advantage of the new features.

There are a number of reasons why organizations may continue to stick with the on-premises version, including cloud security concerns and cloud migration difficulties. We all understand the move to the cloud is not always as easy as it sounds. But there are advantages to moving to the cloud considering Microsoft’s cloud-first approach. They are releasing all the new features on cloud-first before evaluating what can be added to the next on-prem versions.

Eventually, the decision is with the end organization, and whatever the decisions may be to choose to migrate to the cloud or next version, or a hybrid, the decision should be based on “when the support is ending” and “what are new features available in the new version from Microsoft that will help define and improve the scope, scale, and reliability of SharePoint.”

Latest Capabilities

There are always new capabilities that users look forward to that are released by Microsoft. Being a Microsoft Gold Partner, Bitwise has firsthand insight on their roadmap, which we understand is more driven towards:

  • Optimizing user experiences through SharePoint Online
  • Content engagement across all browsers and devices
  • Powerful scaling security and compliance capabilities

If you decide to go cloud or for example SharePoint Server 2019, you will see similar features as Microsoft is trying to deliver an enhanced hybrid experience to all users. Also, all the good qualities of SharePoint Online are now available for on-premise users, including modern sites, Teams, communication sites, and hub sites, and most importantly, the new rock-solid sync feature for OneDrive that makes it more compelling for enterprises to retire competing file, sync and share solutions like Box or Dropbox, allowing SharePoint to become their one-size-fits-all solution for all of these needs.

See our related blog How to Communicate Better when Everyone Works Remote using Office 365 for more on what makes SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive great for remote work.

So our recommendation on where to migrate is based on the immediate need of the customers and we can definitely help and be part of the evaluation when the decision is being made to go to the cloud or move to the next version on-prem. For a complete discussion on migration, readiness for migration, and lifecycle of the migration, watch our on-demand SharePoint Migration webinar.


Beat the SharePoint 2010 Extended Support Cutoff with Direct to Office 365 Upgrade

Watch this webinar to see how Bitwise can help you quickly migrate from SharePoint 2010 or 2013 to later versions with zero downtime and zero data loss.

Editor's Note: The blog was originally posted on July 2020 and recently updated on December 2023 for accuracy.


Nikhil Deshmukh

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