SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365 Upgrade: Does your Information Architecture Align with Your IT Roadmap?

By Errin O'Connor posted 07-11-2014 13:46


Ensuring Your System & Information Archiecture Architecture Strategy Aligns with Your SharePoint Roadmap

When an organization is near the point of kicking off and performing a upgrade and/or migration initative toSharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365, it is key to ensure core elements have been designed and put in place to meet not only the current needs of the organization over the next 12 months but for at least the next 24-36 months via a SharePoint roadmap.

Scalability in SharePoint 2013’s design and planning for the future will save your organization an incredible amount of budget as well as the intangle price that comes with achieving user buy-in and a overall satisfied user base that utalizes the tools and features for which are being providing to them.

What does your organization currently have implemented and if you could, ”in a perfect world,” descibe the exact scenario and path of how your SharePoint 2013 initaitive should go, what would you say?



For example, on the previous 60+ SharePoint 2013 upgrade and/or migration initiatives EPC Group has been a part of, we have outlined the overall requirements of 5 projects that organization’s were able to achieve with SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365’s SharePoint Online:

Note: In reviewing these scenarios, start to think about your own high level summary of what you are wanting to acheive in your organization’s effort.

”From the Consulting Trenches” Examples of Environments Succesfully Migrated into SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365’s SharePoint Online


These 5 organizations with existing SharePoint as well as non-SharePoint platforms had the following technology landscapes implemented and overall project requirements for their new initiative:

• Our organization has SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) implemented with a fair amount of customizations that were done via SharePoint Designer and we are wanting to upgrade directly to SharePoint Server 2013. We have approximately 800 users and 2 data centers and would like to achieve a “big bang” migration by moving everything over all at once. We have about 250 GB of content in our content databases and are site structure is really more departmental following our companies org chart.

• Our organization has SharePoint Server 2010 implemented with about 4000 users and we are utilizing several of SharePoint’s ECM tools along with the record center. We have a lot of sites that are not being used as we did not have a defined site provisioning strategy when we first launched so we would like to clean up or archive those sites so they are not carried over to SharePoint 2013.

• Our organization has been utilizing SharePoint since the 2003 version and we upgrade to SharePoint 2007 using a migration tool several years ago but we wanted to wait until SharePoint Server 2013’s release to move away from SharePoint 2007. There are a few departments that did stand up their own SharePoint 2010 environments and we are not 100% sure of the content or how they are utilizing it but we will want to ensure they are also in scope for this migration effort. We want this project to not only focus on getting us into SharePoint 2013 and off the older version but also as an opportunity to implement governance and new permission strategies and also implement custom branding that aligns with our corporate brand. We are also very interested in taking advantage of the new built-in FAST technology in SharePoint 2013’s search.

• Our organization has SharePoint Server 2010 implemented as well as Project Server 2007 and our PMO department also has heavily utilized the SharePoint project sites that came along with Project Server. These project sites, built in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS 3.0) are also part of the overall migration and upgrade effort as we do not want to continue to support the environment that these older SharePoint project sites reside on. We also have a compliance and security concern about all of the “project documents” that reside in Project Server 2007’s WSS 3.0 environment as they do not have an approved security model and we also want to make sure that all new projects, as we also want to upgrade soon to Project Server 2013, have their project sites in SharePoint 2013. In summary, this effort will be for upgrading our main intranet and collaboration environment, on SharePoint Server 2010, as well as migrating the WSS 3.0 project sites over to a new SharePoint 2013 environment.

• Our organization is in the healthcare arena and we have the free version of SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010, and it is being widely used across the entire organization. We also have offices and partners all over the world who need to be able to securely access a SharePoint 2013 environment and we are interested in utilizing Office 365 for our external partners and then implementing a SharePoint Server 2013 on-premise environment due to our compliance requirements around HIPAA and PHI and our organization’s Presidents overall concern about cloud security and the recent NSA leaks and press that are in the news. Our leadership does not feel comfortable storing our intellectual property or our highly sensitive HIPAA and PHI data in the cloud but we do want to take advantage of the cloud and are looking at a hybrid SharePoint scenario. Also, we have tested Visual Studio 2013 and Visual Studio online and would be interested in implementing a development environment in Microsoft Azure for some of our new developers who will be learning SharePoint development.

EPC Group Sample Projects - Summary


These are just a few real-world examples of how different each and every organization is unique around what they trying to accomplish as well as the hurdles and compliance concerns they are facing.

All 5 of these projects were completed and I am stating that because it is absolutely possible to migrate from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2013 by following defined processes.

It is also complexly feasible to migrate Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and a SharePoint Server 2007 platform in addition to a highly utilized SharePoint Server 2010 environment with ECM and records retention requirements that all residing within 1 company.

EPC Group’s Consultants “Dig in” to Design Your Tailored Approach


The following are examples of questions that EPC Group’s SharePoint 2013 and Office 365’s architects post to clients as we dig into the most granular details of your organization to design your tailored strategy:

• What is your experience with your organizations users regarding a “big bang” migration (i.e. all at once) versus a granular migration that may take place over several weekends?

• What types of customizations have been implemented and what tool or method was used to develop these customizations?

• Does your organization have an existing governance strategy that defines service level agreements (SLAs) or expectations of SharePoint’s availability?

• Does the organization and executive management consider SharePoint to be a mission critical application?

• How much data and what types of data exist within your environment(s)?

• Do you have any records retention or ECM/RM requirements for which will be required to be implemented with the new SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365’s SharePoint Online environment?

• What has worked well in the past for training your organization’s user’s base on new technologies and do you have a defined trainer? Do you prefer a train-the-trainer type strategy to possibly help lower the costs of ongoing training?

• Where are your data centers and offices located? Do you have offices or data centers in both North America as well as the EU? If so, what EU compliance policies must be followed when working with those users and their data?

• What is your organization’s executive leaderships feeling regarding the cloud and have there been any conversations regarding the implementation of a hybrid cloud strategy? (I.e. A completely federated SharePoint Server 2013 on-premises + Office 365’s SharePoint Online + Exchange Online + Lync Online)

• What does your current environments underlying system architecture entail and how is your organization utilizing virtualization?

• Do you have any existing Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS) environments that may run non-SharePoint based or other custom applications that will also need to seamlessly integrate (i.e. via Identify Management) with your overall new SharePoint 2013 platform.)

• How is your organization’s Active Directory (AD) environment configured and are there any configuration concerns or possible updates that may need to be made to AD to ensure a best practices security model is implemented?

• Does your IT department have dedicated developers who will be developing custom SharePoint 2013 or Office 365 Apps in the future? Are you utilizing Visual Studio as well as Team Foundation Server for code management? Can you provide more insight regarding your organization’s development and buy verses build policies?

• Are you looking at possible future business intelligence (BI) or reporting initiatives or looking to pull in external data sources from “other” line-of-business systems such as SAP, etc. If so, there are some areas of consideration and planning that should be discussed and placed in your SharePoint roadmap so that SharePoint 2013 can “intake” those future requirements and you are able to build and deliver new services such as BI or ECM to your organization’s users without having to perform any major re-architecture (i.e. information and system architecture scalability and roadmap planning)

These are just a few initial questions to help get you thinking more granularly about what you currently have implemented and how you may want to tailor your overall project implementation strategy, including your organization's governance strategy, to meet not only your user’s current needs but also future “big ticket” type initiatives in the future.

EPC Group’s SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 Upgrade & Migration Strategies “From the Consulting Trenches”


I will continue to build on these EPC Group's SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 Upgrade & Migration blog posts in the weeks to come to touch on the real-world “from the consulting trenches” approach that EPC Group has successfully implemented for hundreds of organizations throughout North America.

As detailed in my new new book “SharePoint 2013 Field Guide: Advice from the Consulting Trenches


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