Ever since Microsoft officially announced SharePoint Server 2019 at the SPC NA conference in May, I have been getting a lot of questions about it. Lots of questions about what it will do, how best to leverage it, which side the cog will be on this time around, things like that. As a long time on-prem server guy it does my heart good to see so much interest in it. The biggest questions I’ve gotten though, have been around how and when to roll it out. While I appreciate the enthusiasm, a little more patience might be in order. However, as an impatient person myself I can empathize, so this week I’m going to tell you about 5 things you can to start getting ready for SharePoint 2019. This article is mainly just an appetizer to whet your appetite, we’ll cover all of these activities in greater depth in later articles.
1) Get the Lay of the Land
Upgrading, even for the best of environments, always has a surprise or two in store, even for the most vigilant admin. Getting a good idea what’s going on in your farm right now is one of the best things you can do to improve your changes of a successful, less stressful upgrade when SharePoint 2019 comes around. There are a variety of methods and tools you can use to do that, and we’ll cover many of them in a later article.
2) See How it Matches Your Plan
Mike Tyson is famous for a lot of things, some good, some not-so-good, but one of my favorite things is his quote, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Now, hopefully, you look at your SharePoint farm’s proliferation a bit more fondness than a punch in the mouth, but I think there’s still a lot of wisdom to be had there. Hopefully, when you set up your current farm you had some sort of plan. That plan is usually in the form of a governance plan. It dictates how the farm should grow, where things should go, who should be in charge of what. That kind of thing. Unfortunately, reality often rears its ugly head and we get that punch in the mouth. Now is the time, before you start planning your upgrade, to get a handle on where things are and closely, or not closely they match your previous. This gives you a chance to adjust that plan to better match how SharePoint is being used. It also lets you know areas where more user education could be used. It’s better to do this now, then when you’re in the throes of an upgrade that is also likely trying to punch you in the mouth.
3) Clean up Crap
One of my best pieces of upgrade advice is, “Don’t upgrade crap.” It complicates your upgrade, and even if you’re 100% successful, you just have upgraded crap. After you’ve seen where your farm is, and how it matches where you want your farm to be it’s time to start getting rid of crap. That can take a few forms. It can be abandoned site collections, webs, or web applications that didn’t end up getting used as expected. It can also be third party software that either didn’t work the way you wanted, or just didn’t end up being necessary. Regardless, being proactive about that now will help future you out when you’re upgrading. You’ll thank you, I promise.
4) Move to Office 365
Sometimes content isn’t crap, but it still doesn’t necessarily belong in your SharePoint farm. If you have Office 365 licenses, you can move some of that content up to SharePoint Online today. Everything you move to Office 365 today, is one less thing you need to migrate to SharePoint 2019 when it comes around. This can be obvious things like users’ OneDrives, or more used things like company collaboration content. Getting used to that now will help when you start moving to SharePoint 2019. SharePoint 2019 will be even more focused on Office 365, so the more you know, the easier that will be.
5) Start Prepping your Evangelists
In my years as a SharePoint Admin, I found when of the greatest tools I could leverage to make my SharePoint farms a success was the users themselves. I always had a group of Evangelists that I met with regularly to help me guide the ship. Normally I just sat back and listened while they told me, and each other, how they were using SharePoint. I learned a lot from them. The other way I used them was as advocates when big changes, like upgrades, came through. If I involved them in the process early, they could help me navigate some of the more treacherous waters and let me know how things impacted them. But they also developed a sense of ownership for the upgrade, so they helped quell some of the user discontent that inevitably sprung up. They were there, in the field, helping other users out. Now is a good time, while your upgrade is months, if not years away, to start talking to them. Tell them what you know about SharePoint 2019. Tell them what you found in the other steps. Get their feedback. It will only help.
I know this advice was brief, but I promise there will be more guidance in upcoming articles. Have you already started doing any of these steps? If so, let me know how it’s going in the comments below.