The end of SharePoint 2010, the most widely used edition on the market at the moment, is looming. For enterprises currently using SharePoint 2010 this poses a major problem. The temptation to ignore making a decision is not a good idea, the consequences of doing nothing are great.

There are two things to consider here. The costs and risks of not migrating. The costs of not migrating are considerable and include adding security if you decide to stick with it, adding new and more advanced firewalls and possibly, or even probably, the costs of replacing aging servers.

Microsoft Migration

That said, Microsoft is not just cutting people off. There are options, and Microsoft has been posing answers to the problem the death of SharePoint 2010 raises. In an extensive blog post about the issue, Bill Baer lists a number of solutions that Microsoft is offering.

Clearly everything will have to be either destroyed or migrated. Given that most enterprises keep a great deal of business-critical information in SharePoint, it is likely that migration will be the preferred choice. So what is Microsoft offering?

1. Migrate to SharePoint 2016 or SharePoint Server 2019

If you have to stay on-premises, both SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint 2019 provide opportunities to upgrade and modernize your infrastructure and benefit from better collaboration and portal building technologies. However, keep in mind that to move to SharePoint 2019 you need to move to SharePoint 2016 first, and before you can move to either, you need to move to SharePoint 2013.

2. Migrate to Office 365

The other Microsoft option is Office 365. Office 365 — or the more comprehensive Microsoft 365 — givers enterprises access to all Office productivity tools including SharePoint Online.

It also offers collaboration capabilities that are built around all the apps in Office 365, as well as team chat, online meetings, co-authoring and sharing files securely, group email and a social network for work. There is also built-in privacy, transparency and refined user controls. It's easy to see why this is the most secure option.

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Move To The Cloud

For Ryan Tully, vice president of product strategy at STEALTHbits, SharePoint has historically been many things to many different organizations — a pure document repository, an advanced workflow system, a supporting platform for various line of business applications, and more.

He points out that Microsoft has continuously stated it is moving forward with a cloud first model, even using the cloud versions of SharePoint for the basis of its two most recent on-premises platforms, SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint 2019. This becomes important, as the cloud is where Microsoft is continuing to drive innovation and add new value to its collaboration platforms. “The evolution of this platform has shown many changes and introductions in the form of features like OneDrive for Business, Microsoft Teams and Office 365 Groups, that continue to differentiate this platform from alternatives in the market,” he said. “These changes not only set SharePoint Online apart from the competition, but also show the value it provides above and beyond the legacy on-premises platforms.”

SharePoint has traditionally been a popular choice for enterprise collaboration, the benefits of the added cloud or hybrid implementation, should keep it a popular choice in the future.

Avanade is a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture. Tom Hoglund, Avanade’s modern workplace executive, said that many of their clients are starting to prepare for SharePoint 2010 end of life. Avanade is providing an impetus to not only swap out the technology platform, but also update their entire intranet to provide a more personalized, engaging and mobile-enabled experience for their clients

Learning Opportunities

He said they are asking all of their clients to consider making the jump from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint Online. However, there are scenarios where clients have a limited subset of data that is super sensitive and they don't yet feel comfortable putting it in the cloud. In these cases, a mixed environment is best.

There are also cases where large volumes of inactive data needs to be archived for records management. In these cases, it is more important to streamline and rationalize the migration processes than it is to expend effort migrating it. The company is also using the movement off of SharePoint 2010 to rationalize users content and applications, and to examine which processes done in SharePoint today are better served in a different type of application like Dynamics, SAP or Teams. Moving from SharePoint 2010 can be a good thing. “Companies that are doing much of their team collaboration in SharePoint 2010 today like the extended capabilities and better user interface they can get with Microsoft Teams, which also provides a rich environment to rapidly assemble experiences that look like websites or applications to end users, without having to do programming,” he said.

Clients have been getting value from SharePoint since its inception, but they have also suffered some frustration with its limitations over the years, Ruven Gotz, director of workplace experience with Avanade, said. As Microsoft has embraced the cloud, they have breathed new life into SharePoint as the content management substrate under Office 365 and OneDrive.

As SharePoint 2010 reaches its end of life and clients seek options for their collaboration and intranet platform, they should consider Office365 and SharePoint online as their future. The growing set of tools that are easier than ever to learn and use, and the capabilities that Microsoft has added, means a great new look and feel and much less customization. This leads to happy users and a much lower cost of ownership.

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Migration Options

Mark Beckner is an enterprise solutions expert with over 20 years of experience and founder of Inotek Consulting Group. He said that if you are migrating from an older version of SharePoint, and want to move lists, libraries, document content, sites and other content there are many different options. He recommends MetaLogix (now part of Quest), which offers tools that migrate data as-is, or restructures the migrated content as the migration occurs. There is quite a bit that can be done with this tool.

In addition, he said Microsoft offers a tool that allows for easy migration of data from older versions. This tool is very rudimentary and super simple to use. He said this is an ideal solution as many SharePoint environments consist of more than just the core documents, sites and libraries.

However, in many other cases, companies have built out customized environments that serve as customer facing portals. In more customized environments, there is not a single tool that would be used. In some cases, for example, it may make sense to migrate the portal/customer focused pieces of the solution into Dynamics 365, and move the traditional content management (like document repositories) into SharePoint online. In these cases, a more thought out migration approach needs to take place.

A recent blog post by Benjamin Niaulin of Sharegate, points out that two major factors characterize the overall performance of the process: speed and impact on business operations. How can your company make sure to finish the migration as fast as possible while minimizing errors and impact on end users? These are key questions that enterprise leaders need to answer.