The Secret when Upgrading to SharePoint 2013: “Don’t Upgrade Crap”

I was able to slip away from the Bamboo Booth at Ignite to check out a session called “Upgrade to Microsoft SharePoint 2013 and Ready for Cloud Potential.” Todd Klindt and Shane Young, seasoned SharePoint MVPs from Rackspace, walked the jam-packed audience through the do’s and don’ts, regarding upgrades to SharePoint 2013, sharing what they called “upgrade nuggets” of information with us. Here are some of the best “nuggets” I wanted to share:

Nugget #1- My Sites and One Drive for Business. With SharePoint 2013, you can redirect your on-premises My Sites to Office 365. In order to do this, you must have Service Pack 1. The thing to remember, however, is that this is not migrated automatically. Each user can do it manually, or else you will need to lean on a third-party provider to help migrate for you. Interestingly enough, this feature has also been made available in SharePoint 2010, as long as you have the February 2013 or later update installed.

Once you switch it to Office 365, your My Sites icon will now direct you to your new My Sites location in O365. In order to access your old My Sites (so you can access the data in order to copy it over), you will need to manually type in the existing URL, or you can access it through the “About Me” section.

Nugget #2– If you’re still in 2007 or 2010 and are thinking about waiting until 2016 to upgrade, DON’T. They highly recommend not skipping 2013 and upgrading now. With the recent announcement that 2016 won’t be available for about another year (currently slated for a Q2 2016 release), Todd predicts that organizations won’t have SharePoint 2016 up to and running in production until the end of next year. That’s a long time to wait. He recommends upgrading to 2013 now in order to ease end-users into the new experiences of SharePoint.  2013 was a significant change from 2010, and you can expect even more change in 2016.

Don’t shock your end users, or adoption will be long and difficult. Plus, Microsoft doesn’t let you upgrade directly from 2010 to 2016, so you will need to install 2013 anyway.

Nugget #3– Prepare to buy more hardware. If you’re still a 2007 or 2010 organization, you better put in a budget request for additional hardware soon. Todd and Shane estimate that you need about twice as much hardware for 2013 as you needed for 2010. Here are the main reasons why:

  • 2010 and 2013 cannot exist on the same server, so you need access to another server to install 2013
  • In 2013, office web apps have to live on their own server. In 2010, they could live on the SharePoint server, but that changed for 2013
  • Search functionality in 2013 eats resources for dinner. They highly recommend that you put search capabilities on their own server, or you may experience some serious performance issues.

Looking to the future, they expect the hardware requirements for 2016 to be very similar to 2013, so if you invest now, you will be more prepared when you move to 2016.

Nuggets 4, 5, and 6, I will call “mini-nuggets”, as they are some quick notes to remember when upgrading to 2013:

#4– Add managed paths manually before attaching databases.

#5– Always upgrade the database that contains the root site collection first. All site collections look back to the root site for certain references, so if your root site doesn’t exist, all other site collections will fail.

#6– Try to use the same URLs when upgrading. This makes it easier for end-users that may have had shortcuts saved.

Lastly, the guys spent a good amount of time talking about Authentication methods. In 2013, you should stick to the default claims-based authentication. Classic is history, so you need to switch at some point. This leads me to the final nugget:

Nugget #7– When switching from classic to claims-based authentication, do it in your 2013 environment, NOT in your existing 2010 environment. The main reason is that 2010 is your PRODUCTION environment. If you switch it in production and something breaks, then people notice. But if you spin up your 2013 environment, then switch to claims and things break, guess what? No one will know, because it’s not yet in production! Simple, yet smart.

While I’ve only scratched the surface of the “nuggets” provided by Todd and Shane, I hope you find this to be useful information when you prepare to upgrade. Good luck!