Don’t Put All Your Eggs in PreUpgradeCheck

I’m preparing to drive across town to present at today’s SharePointPalooza event, doing a quick refresh of my deck on migration planning, and thought I’d add a quick note on the topic of migration (or upgrade) preparation. This is based on one of the common questions I hear from customers when discussing tools and process that help with planning, and specifically the identification of source system customizations: “Why do I need to use anything but PreUpgradeCheck to identify issues with my environment?”

Talk to enough people who have managed migrations, and you’re bound to find people who only use PreUpgradeCheck and who were able to quickly and successfully migrate their farm. But more often than not, this just isn’t the case. Migrations can be messy. Migrations are a phased, iterative process that includes trial and error – and require much more planning and prioritization than they usually receive. My advice? Don’t get overly reliant on any one tool for identifying issues with your environment/farm prior to a migration or upgrade. Use multiple tools. Take the time to catalog and prioritize your site collections, customizations, and end user requests.

Here are my recommendations (not necessarily in this order):

  1. 2010_pre_upgrade_checkerPreUpgradeCheck
    It can be inconsistent, so run the tool multiple times throughout your migration. Chunk up your migration, moving pieces at a time, running PreUpgradeCheck after each iteration to verify the health of what is about to be moved.
  2. ReadyPoint
    A free utility from Axceler, ReadyPoint will scan your 2007 environment and looks for important data, such as the number of active versus unique users, how much disk space is consumed by your content databases, the number of managed properties on your farm, the number of blogs and wikis relative to the number of sites, and other critical data points to help you prepare for the move. This information should be folded into your overall migration planning so that you can target those areas that require prioritization.
  3. Davinci Migrator’s pre-migration analysis
    The latest release from Axceler’s Davinci2acquisition of echoTechnology, Davinci has a unique and powerful pre-migration analysis tool that matches your source (2003 or 2007) source system against 2010 and an onboard rules engine to tell you exactly what is wrong, where it is, the severity of the issue, and recommendations on whether to ignore or clean up the issue. No other solution on the market provides you with a comprehensive view as Davinci – and you don’t have to wait until a migration fails to find out why. It’s pretty slick.
  4. Talk to your end users
    Migration is not for introverts. Get out there and talk to your end users. The tools above are necessary to help you identify customizations on your source system, but they can’t help you prioritize what needs to be moved, in what order. Before you spins cycles on migrating sites and content and permissions and master pages….find out what you end users actually want out of your new environment. Yes, a simple content migration could evolve into a much more complex taxonomy re-architecture and metadata cleanup effort, but it could also help you identify a wealth of sites and content that do not need to be migrated, saving you time and heartache.

As with any project, fail to plan for a migration, and you might as well plan to fail. Go into it with both eyes open. Know as much about your environment as possible so that you are able to make the right decisions….and your chance of success will increase dramatically.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.