You may be thinking, “But wait! That means I need to obtain the SharePoint Server 2010 software to create the interim farm? I certainly don’t want to buy SharePoint 2010 just to upgrade to SharePoint 2013.” The good news is that you can locate a standard or enterprise trial copy of SharePoint 2010 from the Microsoft Download Center, and use this to build the interim SharePoint 2010 farm.
After you have upgraded your databases to SharePoint 2010, you can then copy them to your SharePoint 2013 farm and upgrade them to SharePoint 2013. By default, when you upgrade your databases to SharePoint 2013, the site collections contained in the databases remain in a true SharePoint 2010 format, not just visually, but functionally as well.
This is where the Site Health Checker comes into play; you can run the Site Health Checker on the SharePoint 2010 site collections contained in the SharePoint 2013 databases to determine if there are any issues with the site collection prior to upgrading it to SharePoint 2013.
However, I think something even more helpful is that you have the option of creating a SharePoint 2013 evaluation copy of your SharePoint 2010 site collection. You can now see how the site collection will look and perform in SharePoint 2013 without disrupting your SharePoint 2010 environment. After resolving any issues discovered in your SharePoint 2010 site collection, you are then ready to upgrade it to SharePoint 2013.
These two options make the upgrade process from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2013 quite easy, and the options help you perform the upgrade at a pace that is comfortable for your users, yet it still allows the farm administrators to complete the farm upgrade to SharePoint 2013 when they are ready.
For organizations that are close to upgrading from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010 in the next few months, consider pausing the rollout of SharePoint 2010 and waiting for the SharePoint 2013 release. This will allow you to take advantage of all the new functionality when using the upgrade process mentioned above.
While You Wait
With that said, you may be asking what you can do during the few months that you are waiting to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 from SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010. How about building a governance plan or improving an outdated governance plan? You could also take some time to clean up your SharePoint data so only current and relevant data is migrated to SharePoint 2013. This time could also be used to review and update the organization of your SharePoint information to ensure a user-friendly environment in SharePoint 2013.
As you can see, there’s plenty to do between now and the expected release of SharePoint 2013, regardless of whether you are upgrading from SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010, so be sure to use this time wisely so you can perform an efficient and painless upgrade when SharePoint 2013 is released.
Editor's Note: Brian offered a great overview of SharePoint 2013 in this series, 35,000 Foot View of SharePoint 2013