It's Time to Migrate: Shifting Your On-Premise Intranet to SharePoint Online

January 15, 2019 | Jim Piller
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We feel for you: You’re an IT professional, tasked with the migration of your company’s content to a cloud-based collaborative platform—SharePoint Online. Perhaps you and the C-Suite have been hesitant: the on-premise SharePoint has been working for your enterprise for years. Moving means disruption and change management requires detailed planning. Or, maybe you’ve been contemplating a cloud shift for months now but feel nervous to embark.

Take heart. There’s help. Here’s what you need to know before migrating to SharePoint Online.


SharePoint Online has been the elephant in the room for some time now. Some on-premise SharePoint users are playing the waiting game, hoping they can put migration off just long enough that Microsoft will still be supporting their server till the last moment.

So, let’s start with the bottom-line question: Why migrate? And why migrate now?

The implications of an avoidance mentality. CIOs and SharePoint administrators obviously need to do what’s best for their business. While following the latest and greatest industry trends is not always necessary, it can be also risky to avoid the inevitable indefinitely and attempt to survive with outdated versions. In the tech world, age doesn’t bring wisdom. It brings compatibility challenges. The way of the world is moving in the direction of growth with more, not fewer, cloud-based SharePoint users.

And in this case, there are just too many rumors about how long quality support will be available if you encounter problems while you hang on to your on-premise server. Eventually, older versions of SharePoint are not going to be a priority for any helpdesk anywhere.

There’s the issue of cost. London-based Content and Code reminds companies, “Most important of all is the strain that on-premises SharePoint adds to the IT budget. Moving to the cloud takes IT out of ‘the business of running servers’—allowing IT to focus on other business critical objectives and core responsibilities without the need to maintain, patch and support dated on-premises technologies.” Hardware costs, staffing costs and licensing costs are all lessened with SharePoint online.

Only available on…. Yet another reason for migrating is the unique Office 365 products and features which on-premise servers can’t access, such as Graph, Delve, Flow, and Power Apps. Plus, SharePoint Online comes with automatic updates, as opposed to maintenance by your IT team.

Keeping it safe. Sticking personal employee data and confidential company documents out in the cloud might sound less secure at first. But in actuality, SharePoint Online and Microsoft’s global datacenters provide higher levels of compliance and security than in an on-premise environment.

Middle of the road. If full-scale migration is too much to bite off just yet (and you’re still feeling unsure about the security of cloud-stored data access), there’s still a way to make progress toward the ultimate end goal.

Hybrid deployment is a combo package—linking cloud services with your current on-premise infrastructure. It’s the slow move in the direction of managing content via cloud. It lets you keep a little of existing environment that everyone’s used to while you explore the online possibilities and use cloud storage for only part of your content.

Trust the tool. If you’re still worried about whether it’s a good idea to take the plunge and change over, Microsoft is here to walk you through this process via SharePoint’s Migration Tool. The tool provides support as you transition on-premise server accounts to cloud storage.

Microsoft describes the simplicity and effectiveness of this migration assistant: “Designed to be used for migrations ranging from the smallest set of files to a large scale enterprise migration, the SharePoint Migration Tool will let you bring your information to the cloud and take advantage of the latest collaboration, intelligence, and security solutions with Office 365.”

Not to oversimplify, but this is what the tool was created for: It’s made by Microsoft to help Microsoft users transfer from one Microsoft version to another. Accessing IT help from the makers themselves is a great basis for successful transition.

In general, hop off the let’s-wait-and-see train of thought as quickly as possible and embrace the idea of starting the migration journey. Don’t think why. Think, why not?

But, to be completely fair, what other factors may play into your conversion decision?


A full platform migration takes prep. And of course, Microsoft has thought of this. The SharePoint Migration Assessment Tool (SMAT) analyzes your present on-premise CMS system to determine capability for migration and identifies potential problems with shifting over.


Having a discussion with your team (anyone in the enterprise pertinent to the IT development picture) is going to be another key to a successful migration. Don’t wait for top execs to start this conversation. Show initiative and get the planning ball rolling so that leadership can see reasons for beginning the migration process.

Start by recalling the purposes of a CMS in the first place: SharePoint is designed to work for you—providing organizational services like document storage and retrieval, an internal communication network, business intelligence, and a workflow management portal. It’s customizable—able to integrate with your work and let you collaborate effectively.

And then follow-up dialogue should revolve around a central theme: What is essential for our business? What capabilities, flexibility, features, workflow, customization, etc. must be present in our company iteration of SharePoint?

The resulting discussion should meld these: Analyze SharePoint Online’s options that will promote the core values of your enterprise. Establishing company-specific CMS goals, with the cloud-based SharePoint model in mind—will provide you with a foundation for moving forward.


In the long run, experts say that the pros beat the cons of migrating to a cloud-based SharePoint. Experts at LinkTek argue, “Although there are speed bumps to migrating to SharePoint Online, its benefits, in terms of speed, reliability, security, user-friendliness and reduced cost, far outweigh its downsides.”

And you’re not alone. Listen to experts discuss this live—tune in Thursday, January 31, at 1:00 p.m. EST. Our webinar will walk you through the ins and outs of switching gears to a new version of SharePoint.

The question is not if, but when you should make the move from on-premise to online. SharePoint Online offers you what you’ve always needed—a responsive, collaboration-centric organizational solution—and with migration, you’d have all the added access of a cloud-based interface.

Topics: Cloud Infrastructure SharePoint

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