Over the years, many companies have attempted content migrations from their older on-premise content sources to SharePoint Online and One Drive for Business in their Office 365 tenant. But these same companies are now facing a new challenge with their content through mergers, divestitures, and acquisitions. That challenge is how to manage migrations from SharePoint Online to SharePoint online from an existing Office 365 tenant to another tenant. And while this new challenge may seem straightforward to solve, companies should be aware of some common myths and misconceptions about tenant-to-tenant migrations:
- Myth 1 – “Let’s run a backup of our old SharePoint Online and restore it to the new tenant.” While it would be great if the process were this simple, SharePoint Online does not work in this way by offering a simple backup and restore feature. And while Microsoft has recently released a free SharePoint migration tool, the tool is currently only intended for helping companies with moving their on-premise SharePoint or File Shares content to their new SharePoint Online environment.
This leads some companies to consider custom migration options by creating and coding their own migration tool using various technologies. While these may be feasible for some organizations whose IT resources have these technical skills, the time to develop and test these solutions can be costly and less reliable. Thus, most companies prefer the option of evaluating and selecting a 3rd party migration tool such as ShareGate or AP Elements’ FLY that can meet their tenant-to-tenant migration requirements.
- Myth 2 – “Why don’t we move our current O365 tenant’s files back to an on-premise or Azure-hosted File Share and then migrate this content to the new O365 tenant? I’m sure all our data will be preserved!” While this can be a viable option for some businesses, it’s important to note that you may be losing important information on the current tenant’s content by going this route. This lost information could include document metadata, unique security permissions, and customized list and library views for starters! For all intents and purposes, by deciding on this migration option, you will have to invest additional time in rebuilding your SharePoint Online configuration and customizations on your original content once its migrated from the File Shares to the new tenant.
- Myth 3 – “Our company’s bandwidth is lightning fast so this tenant-to-tenant migration shouldn’t take long at all.” While your business’ network bandwidth may be fast, it’s always important to keep in mind that Microsoft is responsible for your Office 365 tenants and their subsequent performance and latency when interacting with them! While Microsoft may have your tenant in the closest data center near your company, there are still several potential tenants from other companies that also reside in that same data center. While migration tools for SharePoint Online such as ShareGate can accelerate the migration process by first importing your batch of migrated files into your tenant’s Azure staging area before they are then finally imported into your SharePoint Online environment, it is critical to plan for and allocate extra time for migrations due to unexpected outages and throttling in your tenants. For some companies, this means experimenting with different times for doing their tenant-to-tenant or SharePoint Online to SharePoint Online migration batches to find time slots that best balance their tenants’ performance with their migration timelines and project stakeholders’ goals.
- Myth 4 – “We don’t have many users that have a lot of One Drive content in the current tenant, why don’t we have all our users move these files by themselves?” In cases where we’re dealing with a very small user base such as 25 users, I might agree with this approach. However, even if I were to agree with this approach, it would first require some analysis to better understand how a company’s users have been leveraging One Drive for Business in their current Office 365 tenant. Have users been creating columns on their document libraries to better tag and organize their files using views? If so, going with this approach of having users migrate their OneDrive files themselves could involve a lot of blood, sweat, and tears on their part in having to totally rebuild their metadata and views on the migrated files in SharePoint Online in the new tenant! A much better alternative to this approach would be to again to consider selecting a 3rd party migration tool that can preserve users’ OneDrive metadata and library customizations as part of the tenant-to-tenant migration.
After reviewing some common myths and misconceptions about tenant-to-tenant (AKA SharePoint Online to SharePoint Online) migrations in Office 365, I hope you can now appreciate the questions and complexities involved in successfully performing one. With any type of migration, it’s critical to not only understand the nature and functionality of the content being moved, but also the creators and consumers of that content. While it is possible to conduct pre-migration activities such as validating filenames and confirming file access security requirements in order to more efficiently manage and conduct the actual migration, always plan for the unexpected! With migrating from SharePoint Online to SharePoint Online migrations, always err on the conservative side in estimating how long you think the actual migration batches of files will take. This will help your project schedule be flexible and resilient to unplanned tenant outages or latency/performance issues from Microsoft. And by starting with smaller migration batches at different time slots in your tenants, you can also find times that works best for your project team and company.
If you need any help in planning your next migration, don’t hesitate to contact Strategic SaaS!