AvePoint recently released information on how the Microsoft Technology Centers (MTCs) used DocAve to move and upgrade their SharePoint environment from SharePoint 2007 to a Microsoft IT (MSIT) hosted, cloud-based instance of SharePoint 2010. You may also be interested to know that the AvePoint Partner Services (APPS) team played a key role in the project– from planning through to completion. There were some interesting challenges that the APPS team faced in this move, and some lessons that are definitely worth sharing.
The first (and biggest) challenge was presented by the destination environment itself. Being a cloud-based environment, no access to the servers was possible. In addition, many of the configurations and setting were set by MSIT and could not be changed, as so everything migrated had to stay within these parameters. The other big challenge in the project was the fact that this wasn’t just a move from a server farm to the cloud; it was also an upgrade from SharePoint 2007 to 2010. So the starting point and the desired end result were different in numerous ways.
To simplify the problem, it was decided to split the project into 2 overall phases—the upgrade or migration from 2007 to 2010 and the move to the cloud environment. Breaking the project in this way not only simplified it, but it gave the added benefit of a testing and staging SharePoint 2010 environment, where sites and content could be adjusted and tweaked before publishing to the cloud. Once that decision was made, the project progressed like any other migration. First, an analysis was performed on the source environment. This analysis identified several sites and areas of the environment that were no longer in use or that were obsolete. Identifying these upfront prevented a lot of unnecessary work and helped clean up the environment. It was then a simple matter of working with Microsoft and their services team to determine the structure desired on the destination environment, mapping content, and prioritizing sites for migration. Using DocAve Migrator, the APPS team was then able to build the migration plans and start moving data. This migration was the quickest part of the project. The job was started on a Friday evening, and after a few hours, the whole environment had been moved from SharePoint 2007 to the SharePoint 2010 staging environment. As with any migration, there were some issues with unique customizations, but 99.8% of the content moved successfully on this first run. The APPS team was able to take the reports generated by DocAve and come up with resolutions quickly for the remaining items. This staging environment also allowed the team to adjust all settings to those on the destination cloud environment, and to deal with the impact of those changes in a controlled manner. One thing that the APPS team realized early on in the project was that the greatest bottleneck in the migration was going to be the data transfer rate from the staging environment to the cloud. Because no access was permitted to the servers, and because of other restrictions, a straightforward attachment of a database was not possible. The team decided to use DocAve Content Manager to move the content from the staging environment to the cloud. Since this tool has the capability of working over web services, it doesn’t need any special access or privileges. However, this also means that the tool is limited by the available bandwidth. Thus, as soon as sites were verified on the staging environment, they were then scheduled to be moved to the cloud, in a rolling manner. This allowed the Content Manager jobs to be run without delay, while other sites were still being verified on the staging environment.
The end result of this approach was the Microsoft Technology Centers’ SharePoint environment upgraded and running in a cloud-based SharePoint 2010 environment with a total project completion time of only 6 weeks. This project is a great example of both what the DocAve platform can do, and what an experienced team and the right approach can accomplish!