Bill Baer, senior product marketing manager for SharePoint at Microsoft, confirmed in November that the countdown to the demise of SharePoint 2010 has started. Given that SharePoint 2010 is the most popular version currently deployed at enterprises, this poses a real challenge.

The discontinuation of support for SharePoint Server 2010 means that as of Oct. 13, 2020, Microsoft will issue no more security patches or product updates, which will leave SharePoint 2010 deployments open to attack. So what should enterprises do? With his announcement, Baer offered two Microsoft-focused solutions. They include:

1. Stay On-Premises

If your organization is still set on keeping everything on premises, then one option is to move to SharePoint Server 2016 or SharePoint Server 2019. However, Baer noted such a migration requires a multi-phased approached, with a move to SharePoint Server 2013 needed before you can upgrade to SharePoint Server 2016 — and likewise, upgrading to SharePoint Server 2013, then SharePoint Server 2016, before upgrading to SharePoint Server 2019. 

2. SharePoint Online

The other option is to move to Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based subscription service that brings together all the multiple Microsoft business tools under one umbrella, including the online version of SharePoint. The decision to move to Office 365 might then prompt you to consider a move to Microsoft 365 instead of Office 365.

Microsoft 365 was originally unveiled at Inspire 2017 and consists of a package that includes Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, the new offering came in two flavors targeted at different segments of the market: Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Enterprise.

Microsoft also provides the expertise to undertake such a move with the FastTrack for Microsoft 365 program. This offers deployment and adoption self-serve resources, tools, guidance and engineering assistance for all things Microsoft 365, including collaboration, voice, devices and security across Windows 10, Office 365, and EMS.

Related Article: 12 Productivity Tools Baked Into Office 365

Reasons to Move to SharePoint Online

Rob LaMear IV, founder and CEO of, said the online move is the best option at the moment, provided your deployment is not heavily customized. 

“For those using SharePoint 2010, it's time to get ready for a move to SharePoint Online, SharePoint 2013 self-hosted on-premises, or dedicated SharePoint 2013 with a hosting provider. Move to SharePoint Online if your SharePoint is not public facing or has limited customization, few third party web parts, or no compliance requirements,” he said.

If control or compliance requirements don't allow for SharePoint Online, decide if SharePoint 2013 needs to live on premises or if it can live in a dedicated hosting provider's data center.

However, the intranet role may need to stay on premises (as it houses sensitive human resources, R&D and other data), while an extranet or internet-facing role can be outsourced to a hosting provider, thereby creating a SharePoint hybrid environment. The hosting provider may also be able to meet your industry's compliance requirements (HIPAA, SOX, PCI, ITAR) while taking on the chores of monitoring, backup and patching. Performance, security and reliability will most likely meet or exceed on premises standards.

Why not move to SharePoint 2016 or 2019 from 2010? LaMear pointed out the more jumps you make during an upgrade or migration, the more pitfalls you create. Even with the best tools, many of the pitfalls require manual labor to overcome.

In addition to this, end-user training requirements typically increase dramatically when jumping two versions, given the sometimes dramatic changes made to the interface and functionality from version to version. “Keep in mind, the endgame is to get the most out of the SharePoint platform so end users can collaborate effectively while the enterprise frees up funds, wherever possible, to drive innovation,” he said.

Related Article: Your Essential Guide to SharePoint, SharePoint Online and Office 365

Learning Opportunities

Consider All Implications of a SharePoint Migration

SharePoint is essentially no different than any other piece of software, so the approach to upgrading it is the same. You need to weigh the costs against the benefits that the upgrade will bring, said Maxim Batalin, a project manager at Belitsoft.

He cited the example of a Belitsoft customer who is using a SharePoint version even older than 2010. “They aren't going to upgrade it anytime soon — why fix something that isn't broken?” he said. This really is the key. If it works and is secure, why change?

In January, results from a survey of 450 enterprises conducted by SharePoint specialist Sharegate, along with Nintex and Hyperfish, showed that while the number of enterprises using SharePoint 2007 had dropped from 48 percent to 40 percent, a large number of companies are still using it. The same survey found a number of organizations were still using SharePoint 2003.

Some Belitsoft clients are considering getting a newer version because they feel that when SharePoint 2010 is no longer supported they can say goodbye to all their development plans. Moreover, there is already a shortage of developers who can or want to work with the older versions, and the situation will only get worse.

“In the end, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Each company needs to decide whether upgrading will bring them value or not,” Batalin said.

Related Article: SharePoint 2019 Says Hello to 6 Features and Goodbye to 6 Others  

Is End of SharePoint 2010 Support a Good Thing?

The end of support for SharePoint 2010 may, in fact, even be a good thing, according to Hunter Willis, solution engineer at AvePoint. He said for many IT admins the end of extended support will be a welcome opportunity to clean up their environments and have the leverage to demand their organization shift to a more modern platform like SharePoint 2019 or Office 365.

For those that decide to undertake a migration, he continued, Office 365 has had many years to prove itself a stable and secure platform. “You don’t have to dip your toes, the water’s fine,” he said. “The recently accelerated adoption rates of even highly regulated industries to Office 365 should be enough evidence to encourage organizations to move to the cloud.”

He also noted that most organizations who have remained on SharePoint 2010 up till this point did so with good reason. Typically, this is due to security regulations or important customizations that are central to their operations. “My advice for these organizations is to commit to a thorough discovery process because those customizations are what will trip up your migration budgets and timelines.” he said.

Stéphane Donzé, CEO of AODocs agrees. He said that as SharePoint 2010 reaches the end of support, enterprises should see this as an opportunity to migrate their data to a cloud-native solution. SharePoint is part of a generation of enterprise tools that were designed before the cloud existed. Migrating to a newer version of SharePoint on premises means organizational data will remain stuck on premises for a few more years until they are once again forced to move. 

“Be aware that migrating to SharePoint online is not a one-click operation. In fact, it's a migration project that is of similar complexity as migrating to a non-Microsoft system. A good reason to consider all the options, and not just Microsoft,” he added.