5 Key Steps for Migrating SharePoint to the CloudNo longer the latest IT buzzword, cloud computing has become a reality for a growing number of organizations as they seek to reduce IT costs, expand capabilities and improve their networks.

For SharePoint users in particular the cloud offers a way to replace the administrative burden and costs of managing and maintaining on-premises SharePoint platforms. Migrating to the cloud can be somewhat complex since SharePoint migration tools are limited in functionality or non-existent. So while the cloud can certainly reduce administrative burden, getting there requires having a plan that takes into consideration your overall business goals, your existing infrastructure and content, and your user’s needs.

Here are five key steps we advise our clients follow when migrating their content.

1. Identify what configuration works best for your business

There are several options for running SharePoint both on-premises or in the cloud. As you weigh cloud options, consider which environment best serves your user’s needs. Do you want to move everything to the cloud, or would a hybrid cloud scenario, where only certain workloads or applications (such as email or archive storage) are migrated serve your users better? Depending on the functionality you require and what your organization’s information architecture looks like, evaluating all the options will help shape the scope of the migration and ensure the best solution for your organization.

2. Establish a realistic timeline

Be patient -- your move to the cloud will take longer than you think. I’m not saying that you should estimate how long you think it will take then double it, but the reality is that successful migrations take time. SharePoint is complex and Murphy’s Law always applies. Gartner reported that 80 percent of organizations expect their SharePoint migrations to be quick, easy and trouble-free. In my experience, 20 percent of these organizations will have a stalled project and may even be unable to bring their new SharePoint environment live. This worst case scenario is entirely preventable, but it’s important to be patient and build in extra time up front.

3. Identify what you need to migrate and what you should leave behind

Don’t waste your time and money migrating content that is no longer useful to your business. It’s important to work with content owners and business users to identify relevant content and understand how it is being used and will be used in the future. Pay particular attention to identifying content that is out-of-date or irrelevant and strike it off your migration list. Migrating and storing content in the cloud that you don’t actually need will only put an unnecessary strain on your budget.