The First Office 365 & SharePoint 2016 Migration Readiness Pillar: Architecture

The First Office 365 & SharePoint 2016 Migration Readiness Pillar: Architecture

By Adam Levithan | June 14, 2016

Moving your organization to any new productivity platform can be a pretty daunting project. There’s a huge amount of processes, tasks and activities to prepare for. There’s also a lot that can go wrong – from poorly configured document libraries causing breakdowns in the new environment to networks causing blackouts during migration. Ensuring that all of these issues are accounted for can feel overwhelming.

At Metalogix, we work with Microsoft’s productivity platforms day in, day out, so we have a good understanding of the issues a migration to a new environment can involve – be that Office 365 or SharePoint 2016. Our experts have seen a lot of migrations too – the good, the bad and the ugly. Based on this experience, we have developed a framework – our readiness pillars – which encompass all the areas you need to think about when migrating your organization’s digital workspace to a new environment. By ‘checking off’ each of these pillars, you can be confident that your migration will be successful.

Our five pillars are as follows:

  1. Architecture
  2. Network optimization
  3. Database readiness
  4. Branding customizations
  5. Add-ins

To illustrate how each of these pillars would be implemented in the real world, it’s helpful to visualize a company that’s ‘in the same boat’ as you and successfully made a similar migration. We’ve taken the example of a (fictional) management company, Lefkada, who decided to move to Office 365 so its consultants could work remotely. The move also allowed their international offices to connect more easily to one another. We will refer to Lefkada in each post of the series and show how its CIO managed the move to Office 365 and overcame various challenges.

In today’s post our emphasis is on the first Office 365 migration readiness pillar: Architecture.

Architecture challenges

Prior to its migration, Lefkada faced a number of challenges regarding its SharePoint site structure and how this architecture is different in the cloud. The IT team needed to lay the groundwork before transferring their content and data. They wanted to avoid any complications or delays, be those technical, due to ‘human error’ or poor planning.

Recognize Your SharePoint Structure

The first thing you need to do is to understand the structure of your current iteration of SharePoint. This is important because different companies use SharePoint in unique ways, and it’s important to know how this structure is different in the cloud. So, preparing your SharePoint environment for the change is a big step forward. Made up of Site Collections, Sites, Lists and Libraries, Content types, Site columns, knowing how your data fits within this structure will help you format your content in the cloud.

Collapsing Web Applications

With its SharePoint On-Premises setup, Lefkada were used to having as many Web Applications, each with a distinctive URL, as they wanted or needed. For example, before their migration, they used hr.lefkada.com for their HR department, it.lefkada.com for their IT department, finance.lafkada.com for their finance department, and so on.

With a move to Office 365 came the restructuring - or collapsing - of their Web Applications because in Office 365 you have one URL. Lefkada created one URL: leftkada.sharepoint.com, and added /hr, or /it as a subsite in one Site Collection. They also could have housed each former Web App as its own site collection with /sites/it or /sites/hr. It should be noted that as a separate Site Collection it is a little easier to secure the content.

Content Purge

Office 365 supports the ability to migrate of large quantities of data, however when the opportunity to move to a more efficient system like Office 365 presents itself every company should reduce its data weight. Just like in any storage area, along with the important keepsakes and vital documents, a lot of junk can build up. Performing a purge of old and unnecessary content (even content left over from previous migrations) will make your data more lightweight and ultimately, easier to migrate.

Lefkada took advantage of their migration by evaluating the files stored in SharePoint and removing files and other unneeded data. There was a lot of previous versions of files that were out-of-date and by removing them before the migration they gained a good overview of their data setup and organization. In fact, it was during this process that their IT leader decided to setup a monthly function to monitor data recycling to reduce the future build-up of unnecessary content.

Metalogix recommends

Understanding your existing architecture is fundamentally important to a successful migration. It’s only by understanding how your current environment is built, that you can prepare to move it. Content Matrix from Metalogix can help by providing the tools to plan and prepare your environment for a successful migration.

To increase your readiness, read our ‘Five pillars for migration readiness’ series here. And don’t forget to check back for the next post in the series: Network Optimization.


Adam is a Director of Product Management at Metalogix and a Microsoft MVP advocating for collaboration by connecting business needs with the right technology. Prior to Metalogix, Adam was a Practice Lead for Office 365 in a cutting edge Microsoft Consulting firm where he was responsible for moving customers to the cloud, designing and implementing information architecture (SharePoint Farm and content) and increasing user adoption. Adam is an ongoing member of the SharePoint Saturday DC coordinating committee and active speaker at various events.

Written By: Adam Levithan

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