Microsoft Hints at a New Migration Path to SharePoint 2016

Microsoft Hints at a New Migration Path to SharePoint 2016

by

Traditionally in our SharePoint space, migration has always been a simple upgrade path. What I mean is that you could only migrate to the next version of SharePoint, but never skip one. Now I hate to be spreading rumors and at this point that's all they are... But what if....

*Update: Microsoft has confirmed that you will not be able to migrate from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2016 without first upgrading to SharePoint 2013 or using third-party migration tools like Sharegate.

If you could migrate from SharePoint 2010 to 2016, would you?

This was the question Bill Baer, Senior Product Marketing Manager (SharePoint) at Microsoft, asked on Twitter. Or to be precise:

It's no secret that there are still many organizations on SharePoint 2010 and in fact, some of them just finished the year-long implementation and finally got the adoption from their users they were looking to get.

Here are some of the replies that quickly followed:
Twitter reactions to SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2016 migration

And the list of +1's continues on and on. So far in fact that I could not catch them with my screenshot capture.

SharePoint 2016 is still a mystery to us at the moment as more will be revealed at Ignite. At this point we have some insight as to what to expect from SharePoint 2016, but nothing concrete in terms of infrastructure or actual features. To be honest, we don't know much.

Regardless, it'd be very valuable to those on SharePoint 2010 to be able to migrate straight to SharePoint 2016 without much hassle.

This would actually make sense for Office 365 Experiences in Hybrid with SharePoint

Office 365 Experiences in Hybrid SharePoint

In the post mentioned above on SharePoint 2016, we've learned that this year Office 365 will be focusing on releasing what they call "Experiences" to its user base. I recommend catching up on it, but in short, it's about taking pieces of technology and putting them together to provide something you can use.

For example, taking Exchange email and calendar features combined with SharePoint's Team Sites to create the "Office 365 Groups" experience. Or even taking SharePoint Search and Azure Media Services to create the Video Portal Experience.

Another thing we've learned in this article is that SharePoint 2016 will make it easier to connect to these Office 365 and use them alongside your On-Premises SharePoint seamlessly. We often call this a Hybrid approach.

Not a licensing expert, but if I'm not mistaken your Office 365 User CAL's (Client Access License) allow these same users to use your On-Premises SharePoint without requiring extra CAL's. This could make things even easier to merge the two worlds together. Again I'm not a licensing expert, so you'll have to validate before.

But there's nothing worse for a user than to be using the SharePoint 2010 interface somewhere and clicking to go somewhere that looks and behaves completely different, such as SharePoint 2016.

If a migration from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2016 is possible, I would than call it a brilliant move. It's not about trying to move people to the cloud, but about Microsoft delivering the best solutions set to the vast amount of organizations worldwide, whether you build it yourself with SharePoint 2016 On-Premises, use Office 365 Experiences or use both together in a Hybrid approach.

Migration questions that are inevitable if we start thinking about this

SharePoint 2016 Migration questions

If we start thinking about this, a couple of questions and certain "ah ha" moments begin to arise. Microsoft has recently announced that InfoPath Forms Services will be part of SharePoint 2016 On-Premises. -Ah ha makes sense now kind of moment.

And if we think about the SharePoint plumbing, not a lot has changed since 2010. Don't get me wrong, a lot has been added in SharePoint 2013, but the platform hasn't been re-written from scratch. My assumption is that it's not going to be much different in 2016 either. I'm talking about the structure of a SharePoint site (Lists, Libraries, Content Types) and once again, I've never seen this next version so this is all just my opinion based on what I've seen in Office 365.

This leads me to believe that SharePoint 2016 may still be able to run SharePoint 2010 Workflows like 2013 did by default. This is speculating that a SharePoint 2010 to 2016 migration is possible of course.

An interesting thought, and it looks like this could very well be possible if we think about it. A straight migration to get everyone on SP2010 and SP2013 to the next and upcoming release to help as many people leverage Office 365 Experiences if they choose to. Unless SharePoint 2016 fundamentally changes SharePoint, I don't see too many issues from going straight to it. Well it won't be perfect of course, workflows, classic to claims, etc... but they're the same we've encountered migrating to SharePoint 2013 really. It looks to me like this could very well be feasible.

Note: I think I've made this clear that this has not been confirmed by Microsoft and is simply my opinion.

But out of curiosity, what do you think about this? Is it possible? Does it make sense and will it help you or your customers migrate to SharePoint 2016?

Benjamin Niaulin
Benjamin Niaulin @bniaulin

Well known as the SharePoint Geek, Benjamin has been helping people all around the globe reach their goals by simplifying SharePoint solutions. You haven't met Benjamin yet? Look for him at SharePoint conferences and events!