As the dust settles on the SharePoint 2016 preview edition and you bide your time until the general release next year, what's an IT department to do?

Now is the time for reflection. Does your organization move to SharePoint 2016, does it make the move to Office 365, or does it just stay put?

To Migrate Or Not?

From all accounts, the online version covers most of the areas organizations need to cover in terms of content management or collaboration. But like any version of SharePoint, the 2016 edition will require considerable investment.

For those that decide to migrate, there is a wealth of SharePoint migration tools to choose from to meet their migration needs, and no shortage of migration specialists.  Last week, AvePoint released a new version of its Office 365 migration tool, while Sharegate followed suit this week, with the release of an upgraded version of its migration tool.

Metalogix announced the upgraded version of its SharePoint migration tool during Microsoft Ignite in May, but had been testing the new Microsoft API enabling enhanced migration speeds for months before that.

What is notable about all of these offerings is the focus on speed and the promise to get migrations done faster than before. For those still smarting from slow migrations with previous versions, the news that migration specialists are tackling the problem head-on must come as welcome news.

All of the offerings also offer migration from any version to any other version, with Microsoft’s assurances that on-premises, and therefore hybrid deployments, will be around for a very long time.

A Focus on Speed

Sharegate’s Solution

“Microsoft is absolutely pushing people to the cloud, but the reality is that most migrations are still targeting on-premises. However the hybrid scenario will dominate for a long time. And moving content around is not just about migration, but also day-to-day operations that people don’t want to wait hours to finish,” Simon de Baene, CEO of Sharegate explained.

By this, Baene meant that the old migration scenario, which tied content up until completion of the migration, will no longer cut it. Organizations want to migrate their content, but won't wait many days or weeks to be able to continue work.

Sharegates’s answer to this was its announcement yesterday that its Insane Migration Mode will be available for on-premises SharePoint migrations.

The feature, previously available for migration to Office 365, promises IT Administrators faster data transfer when migrating SharePoint locally. De Baene claimed that the Insane Mode enables SharePoint to SharePoint migrations at 10 times previous speeds. It does this by optimizing the way it requests both source and destination servers during migration. Less requests equals more speed.

“This means that some migrations that would last for months will now just take a few days or few hours to complete. To be honest, we had been victim of our success and very large organizations were coming to us with hundreds of terabytes to move around on-premises, and we didn’t have much to offer at the time,” he said.

The AvePoint Approach

AvePoint has also been tackling this problem recently, with its release last week of DocAve High Speed Migration for Office 365.

According to John Peluso, senior vice president of Product Strategy at AvePoint, Microsoft’s decision to release additional migration APIs in Office 365 earlier this year has provided a “back door” for importing content into SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, making migration a lot easier. But how fast is it?

“This is the key that everyone wants to know, and as usual the real answer is 'it depends.' The API is really efficient when moving files of at least 1MB and when those files have the usual amount of metadata defined (built-in columns, plus a few user-defined properties),” Peluso said.

“The larger the file, the quicker the speed. The less metadata, the quicker the speed. The API is actually pretty inefficient at moving lots of very small files, so as always, a good discovery process where you can inventory your source content will give you a good sense of what kind of speed you can expect.”

Learning Opportunities

Peluso said that AvePoint is seeing migration speeds of between five and nine times faster when using the new APIs as opposed to the standard CSOM (Client Side Object Model) APIs that have been available since the launch of Office 365.

In practical terms this means that users with content that is well-suited to the migration can expect to see throughput of 20GB per hour or more if the migration is well planned.

Peluso pointed out that a number of large organizations across different verticals are actively planning to move some or all of their SharePoint and legacy workloads (MySites, Team Sites, File Shares etc.) to SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business over the next six to 12 months, driving the focus on increased speeds.

Metalogix's Take

Metalogix, which announced trials with the migration API during the Ignite conference last May, claimed that by applying best practices, it was getting speeds up to 30 times faster than when using the standard migration APIs.

It built the most recent release of its Content Matrix to work with the new API and has been using it with its client base since May.

At the time, Metalogix CEO Steven Murphy told CMSWire that through the use of the API and Azure virtual machines, it had succeed in increasing speeds to about 8GB an hour by the fall of 2014 and 20GB an hour, 24 hours per day this year.

Metalogix aims to reach an average migration speed of as high as 50GB an hour by the end of this year.

Do I Stay or Do I Go Now?

However, just because you can migrate at these speeds doesn’t mean that you should. Consider all of  your options before committing to any big move.

In a blog post for the SharePoint Community, Satyendra Tiwari, Software Quality Assurance Manager at Lepide Software, offered four points to consider before rushing into a migration:

  • Conduct a Pre-Migration Analysis: Performing migration without proper analysis of the data you intend to migrate is one of the biggest security risks an organization can take
  • Confirm Data: Assess the state of your content to ascertain whether your files and folders are evenly structured. This should give you a sense of how long the migration will take
  • New Features: Will the new features available on the new platform help your users? How much training will it take to get employees up and working on the new platform?
  • Costs: Evaluate the costs of migration as well as evaluating the maintenance overheads

Needless to say, these are only a few of the many considerations to be made before jumping into a migration. The one thing you do know if you decide a new platform is for you — be it on premises or cloud — is that migration won’t take as long as it has in the past.

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