Yesterday, SharePoint Pro presented a webinar—led by yours truly—entitled “Roadmap to SharePoint 2013.” Thank you to the hundreds of you who attended—we’ll be sure to do more, similar events in the near future! During that event, people were asking questions related to migration and upgrade from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2013.
Should I Stop at SharePoint 2010?
My position is pretty clear that—broadly speaking—there's zero reason to roll out new service on SharePoint 2010. Put crassly and generically: “If SharePoint 2010 can do it, SharePoint 2013 can do it better.”
That doesn’t mean SharePoint 2013 is perfect—not at all, and some of the net new features have rough edges. But the capabilities that are the same in 2010 and 2013 are uniformly better in SharePoint 2013, and better-suited to the business requirements of today’s enterprise.
I’ve addressed upgrade from many angles over the years, so without repeating myself too much let’s review the “story” about upgrade from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2013 using out-of-box features:
Wasn’t that fast? There is no story. There’s no direct upgrade path from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2013. If you want to use out-of-box capabilities, you must first upgrade from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010, then from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013—what I call a “double hop” upgrade.
Now that’s not all bad, really.
Is It Difficult to Upgrade from SharePoint 2007?
By far the most difficult task in upgrading from SharePoint 2007 to [name a version] is remediating customizations.
You must first identify customizations, by which I mean anything that involves code, including third-party add-ons and Web Parts, stuff you built in-house with Visual Studio, management tools that integrate directly with SharePoint, etc. Even Microsoft’s own “Fabulous 40” templates—which turned out to be not-so-fabulous when people went to upgrade.
After identifying customizations, you must figure out which aren't compatible with SharePoint 2010, and either eliminate the customizations or revise them.
This process is the most painful and time-and-money consuming part of upgrading from SharePoint 2007. Once you’ve done that, and you can upgrade to SharePoint 2010, it’s pretty smooth sailing.
Imagine—after a lot of planning, preparation, testing and backing up—you upgrade from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010 on Saturday. There’s probably no reason you can’t turn around on Sunday and upgrade to SharePoint 2013.
How Hard Is It to Move Off SharePoint 2010 Once I Get There?
The upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 is far, far, far less painful. As I’ve covered in other articles, SharePoint 2013 includes the SharePoint 2010 “Root Folder” (also known as the “14 Hive”) as well as the SharePoint 2013 root folder.
That means—in theory—you can install all of your SharePoint 2010 customizations on your SharePoint 2013 farm, and that when you upgrade your SharePoint 2010 content databases, sites will continue to run against the 2010 root folder, with all of its site definitions, feature definitions, templates, etc., in SharePoint 2010 mode.
At a later date, you can upgrade the site collections to SharePoint 2013 mode, and all of the goodness that is SharePoint 2013 will be exposed to users of those site collections. But it’s now a granular process of upgrade—as far as end-user impact goes—and during the process, you can have some site collections running in SharePoint 2010 mode and others in SharePoint 2013 mode in perfect harmony.
There are always caveats and concerns—and the bottom line is that you should plan, research, and test for upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013—but for the first time in SharePoint’s history, I’m not hearing screams of pain from customers about upgrade. It actually works quite well!
Make the SharePoint Double Hop
That’s why, once you’ve mitigated customization compatibility problems that would block your upgrade from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010, you can pretty much go straight through with that second “hop” to SharePoint 2013.
And I would suggest that as the basis for your roadmap.
Don’t stop, sit, or wait with SharePoint 2010. All that’s going to do is give your environment time to get messy again, and require you to train users twice, since SharePoint 2010’s user experience is different than 2007’s, and 2013 is again very different from 2010.
In a future article, we’ll revisit the role of third-party migration tools and services. These are an alternative to the out-of-box double-hop upgrade and, in all reality, address many non-technical requirements that accompany most upgrade projects.