Should I Migrate to SharePoint 2016?

Post Date: 07/28/2016
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“Should I migrate to SharePoint 2016 and if so, when should I migrate to SharePoint 2016?” is currently one of the big questions many IT managers are thinking about. The decision making process contains too many different factors to answer this question with a simple yes or no.

I’m not going to just say, “It depends.” That’s not a real answer. Instead, I’ve put together this article to guide you through all of the key considerations before deciding whether you should migrate to SharePoint 2016.

Which version of SharePoint are you currently using?

This one’s obvious. If you’re currently running SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010 then you’re no longer supported by Microsoft and you should strongly consider upgrading to SharePoint 2016. Today’s business climate demands instant, reliable communication and collaboration between teams, customers, and partners, so support for your environment is a must.

What’s new in SharePoint 2016?

The next step is to look at the benefits SharePoint 2016 brings to users and IT administrators. Here is a short list of new or improved features:

User Improvements

  • Improved user experience with App Launcher and UI changes
  • Improved mobile touch experiences
  • SharePoint app for mobile phones
  • Support for ODF documents
  • Files shared via Durable Links feature will reference a site ID and document ID, so renamed or moved files will not result in broken links
  • Image and video previews
  • File name length and other character restrictions are being removed
  • New User Profile page to include content from Delve and Graph
  • Updated blogging experience including drag and drop feature for adding images to posts
  • Support for files larger than 2GB

Hybrid Improvements

  • Search service can query SharePoint Online in Office 365 and provide a single ranked results set with integrated relevancy
  • eDiscovery and Legal Hold will now traverse SharePoint Online in Office 365
  • Delve and Office Graph API can display content from on premises services along with content in Office 365
  • Consolidation of social features to ensure that followed content, whether on premises or online, appears in a single social profile

Scalability Improvements

  • Content Databases will scale into TBs
  • Limit of 100,000 site collections per database (was 20,000)
  • List view threshold will reach >5,000 items
  • 500 million maximum items per search index partition
  • Traffic Management endpoint automatically routes user requests based on server health

What’s deprecated from SharePoint 2016?

As you see, there are a lot of new features and functionality built into the latest release of SharePoint for end users as well as for an IT admin or architect. But before getting too excited about the bright and shiny new platform, we should not forget about the deprecated or missing features. If you skip this step, you may be in for a rude awakening after migration when business users complain to you about any of these missing functions:

SharePoint Foundation

SharePoint Foundation, formerly known as Windows SharePoint Services, is no longer available in SharePoint 2016. Although it was missing some important features from the enterprise version of SharePoint, the lack of license costs made it an attractive way into SharePoint for smaller companies as document management and portal solutions.

Excel Services

Excel Services has not been built into SharePoint 2016. However, the application is not completely extinct as it has been merged into Office Online Server (also known as Office Web Apps).

Forefront Identity Manager Client (FIM)

In previous versions of SharePoint, FIM was used to synchronize Active Directory and SharePoint. The new release of SharePoint does not use it at all. The standard way of importing users now is via Active Directory import.

SharePoint Designer and InfoPath

New versions of InfoPath and SharePoint Designer will not be released. The previous versions from 2013 will still be available and supported.

Tags and Notes

These features are completely deprecated in SharePoint 2016. You will no longer be able to create new tags or notes, or even access existing ones. For a limited time, all existing tags and notes can be archived using the Export-SPTagsAndNotesData CMD-Let into CSV files. Only SharePoint admins can export these files.

“Should I migrate to SharePoint 2016?”

After reviewing new and deprecated features in SharePoint 2016, the next question is whether one of the deprecated or missing features is mandatory for your farm. If you answer “yes”, you’ll need to find out how to replace it before going forward with migration planning.

If the list of deprecated features doesn’t affect you, your next step is to evaluate custom features or third party solutions used in the old SharePoint farm. Are these still needed, or can they be replaced by SharePoint 2016 out of the box functionality?

Even with SharePoint 2016, the rule is that SharePoint is an open application platform. For this reason, every lost standard functionality can be implemented as a custom feature. But even if there is no technical blocker, I recommend not making a quick decision about migration. Instead, gain an in-depth understanding of the advantages and disadvantages.

How to Migrate to SharePoint 2016

Once you’ve decided to upgrade to SharePoint 2016, you’ll need to understand your two options for migrating:

Upgrading from SharePoint 2013

This is the easier one. You create a new SharePoint Server 2016 farm, then copy the content and service application databases from SharePoint 2013. This upgrades database schema versions to 2016.

Upgrading from SharePoint 2010 or an earlier version

This is a slightly more complicated approach because you can’t upgrade directly from SharePoint 2010 or earlier to SharePoint 2016. Your options are to either use a third-party tool like DocAve Migrator, or build one or more temporary farms running older versions of SharePoint. For example, if you were upgrading from SharePoint 2007, you would need to deploy both a SharePoint 2010 and a SharePoint 2013 farm to get to SharePoint 2016. With DocAve, you are able to “skip” the intermediate steps.

Considering Services to Help with Migration

While assessing your options and creating a plan to migrate to SharePoint 2016, you are not alone. Service providers can help to assess the situation objectively and provide recommendations. Talk to us to about how we can support you during the entire process – from first discussions among decision makers to Migration-as-a-Service.

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