Planning Your Move from SharePoint 2007 to 2010 : Upgrade and Migration Options

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6/27/2013 4:16:14 AM

1. Upgrade and Migration Options

Now that we’ve identified some of the key items that you need to consider before you move to SharePoint 2010, let’s cover the ways in which you’ll get there. Microsoft tools support two strategies to move from 2007 to 2010: an In-place Upgrade and a Content Database Migration. A third option is to rebuild your environment completely from the ground up, migrating content as needed. Table 1 highlights some of the details associated with each choice.

Table 1. Some Pros and Cons Associated with the Various Upgrade Options
Upgrade ApproachDescriptionProsConsComments
In-place UpgradeUpgrades everything in one attemptSimple; updates existing environment on current hardwareEverything is offline while it runs; no ability to revert back to an original siteBest option for single server or small farm; must meet infrastructure requirements of SharePoint 2010
Content Database Migration (Database Attach)Creates new farm and then manually migrates the old databases to the new serversNew farm, minimal downtime as the existing 2007 environment is availableComplex; many manual steps; search scopes must be recreated; additional hardware is requiredBest when moving to new hardware
Rebuild and Selectively MigrateCreates a new farm and then manually migrates the content from the old servers or purchases third-party migration toolsNew farm, selective data migration; allows for a fresh start with taxonomy and security model; new functionality is available at the start and does not need to be retrofittedComplex; requires many manual steps and custom code or third-party tools; requires business and technology resources to properly design and implement a new portalBest option when redesigning your portal and collaboration environment from the ground up; especially true if the current environment is dated or heavily customized

In-place Upgrade

The In-place Upgrade requires that you take the server farm offline and run the SharePoint 2010 installer. This process updates existing databases and servers in a single step. This is by far the simplest approach, given that it is an automated process with minimal manual intervention. The challenge with an In-place Upgrade is that it requires that your existing infrastructure complies with the requirements of SharePoint 2010. As an example, that means increased RAM and 64-bit hardware on all servers as well as specific requirements on the operating system version (Windows Server 2008 SP2+). If you have not kept your infrastructure to current Microsoft recommended patching levels, or you have a large farm, or you have made customizations, an In-place Upgrade may not be an option.

Note that just because an In-place Upgrade is not viable for a production upgrade doesn’t mean you can’t use this approach in a test environment to gauge the viability of the upgrade. In fact, we highly encourage it. With the wider adoption of virtual server technology, creating a test environment that meets the infrastructure requirements of SharePoint 2010 and allows for an In-place Upgrade test is very straightforward. The biggest value this approach offers is that it allows you to see where potential upgrade hurdles exist and, as needed, test the fixes.


No matter how small or simple your SharePoint 2007 environment is, you should always test an In-place Upgrade with a copy of your data first. This will also validate that you are working with the appropriate and sufficient hardware.

Content Database Migration

A Content Database Migration requires that you build a brand new server farm for the new environment. Once MOSS 2010 is installed in the new farm, you then attach the WSS 3.0/MOSS 2007 content database to the SharePoint Foundation 2010/SharePoint Server 2010 farm. At that point, the content upgrade will run automatically for that content database. The Windows SharePoint Services 3.0/MOSS 2007 farm stays available and untouched by upgrade, which allows you to keep the old farm up and running. This is a good option for large and complex deployments or where you are deploying new hardware. In fact, we suspect that this will be the most common upgrade approach.

This is also another example of a process that can be tested (and retested) in a virtual test environment. If your upgrade fails during initial testing, you have the ability to troubleshoot and resolve these issues before going live.


Content Database Migration is also known as a Database Attach.

Rebuild: Create a Separate Farm and Selectively Migrate Content

Rebuilding is a good option if you want to completely redesign your SharePoint 2010 environment from the ground up. Like the Content Database Migration, you build a new SharePoint 2010 server farm. But rather than letting SharePoint upgrade your content databases automatically, you create a new set of content databases and then selectively migrate content. This process is more manual and time-consuming, but has the advantage of creating the “cleanest” outcome because it gives you the opportunity to upgrade your content and infrastructure at the same time.

2. What Plan Is Best for You?

Because every SharePoint environment is different, every upgrade effort is different. So which upgrade option should you choose? In some ways it depends on both the state of your current SharePoint environment as well as your strategic vision for how you will use the new features in the next version. Table 2 offers some real business cases and the associated recommended upgrade strategy. The table presents a very general recommendation for simple scenarios but offers general guidelines on where to begin planning efforts. It is important to note that regardless of upgrade choice, the effort associated with planning and testing is significant. The actual technical upgrade is only one piece of the total upgrade effort.

Table 2. Some Guidance about Selecting the Appropriate Upgrade Strategy Based on Relevant Business Cases
Business CaseRecommended UpgradeComments
  • Relatively simple SharePoint Server 2007 environment

  • Few customizations or third-party Web Parts

  • Simple taxonomy that still is consistent with business needs

In-place Upgrade (same hardware) Database Attach (new hardware)Because the environment is consistent with native capabilities and because no dramatic changes are required, an In-place Upgrade will provide the quickest path to an operational SharePoint environment.
  • Multiple organizational and team sites

  • Team sites are being heavily used and members need the Recycle Bin and workflow

  • Corporate content in portal areas is small and not heavily used

Separate content into different Site Collections; then perform In-place Upgrade on each Site Collection separatelyTeam site users will recognize immediate benefits from using SharePoint Foundation 2010. There is less of an urgency of upgrading the portal. Moving to SharePoint Foundation 2010 first will allow team members to leverage new features while the portal content is reviewed and eventually upgraded to SharePoint 2010.
  • Very mature SharePoint Portal Server 2007 environment

  • Site taxonomy is dated and does not reflect current business vision

  • Lots of customization and unghosted pages

Database Attach


Rebuild and Migrate
Going to SharePoint 2010 can be a good time to evaluate your current portal environment and do any necessary course corrections. The advantage of starting from scratch (and migrating content) is that it allows you to leverage new tools as they were intended (without having to retrofit changes).
  • WSS 3.0-based intranet that started as team sites and grew to become a corporate intranet

  • Lots of pages with no easy way of navigating between pages

  • Search is not effective and has become a major user enhancement request

Double In-place Upgrade


Rebuild and Migrate
You cannot go directly from WSS 3.0 to SharePoint Server 2010, but you can go from WSS 3.0 to SharePoint Foundation 2010 and then upgrade again to SharePoint Server 2010. This will maintain the current site taxonomy but will offer better navigation and search (in addition to all the other native SharePoint features). You could also build a SharePoint portal from scratch and migrate content. Again, the advantage is that you can build a new taxonomy with a more enhanced security model.

3. Upgrade Considerations

No matter which process you select, there are several issues you may run into due to the customizations made in your WSS 3.0/MOSS 2007 environment.

The following customizations could complicate your upgrade from WSS 3.0 to SharePoint Foundation 2010 or from MOSS 2007 to SharePoint 2010:

  • Styles, graphics, and branding for WSS 3.0 & MOSS 2007: You will need to re-create your branding using the new ASP.NET master pages associated with SharePoint 2010.

  • Sites based on a custom site definition: You will have to re-create the site definition to include SharePoint Foundation 2010/SharePoint Server 2010 elements as needed and then add your definitions to the mapping file.

  • Custom and third-party Web Parts: You will have to redeploy these Web Parts and ensure they still work.

  • Web Part connections: You may have to re-create the connections.

  • Data view Web Part connected to a line-of-business database: You may need to either re-create the Web Part or consider using the Business Connectivity Services instead.

  • Customized JavaScript (for example, OWS.JS) as well as jscript. You will need to test these to ensure they still function properly.

  • Document libraries with large numbers of and/or many subfolders: You may want to alter the list design based on SharePoint 2010’s ability to handle many more than the 2000-item limit of SharePoint 2007.

  • Profile database: You will need to reimport your profiles, which takes roughly an hour for every 200 profiles. Make sure you budget this time.

  • Audiences: You will need to re-create the audiences in the new environment.

  • Hardcoded URL references. If you change the underlying site topology, the URLs associated with sites and/or documents may change, causing references to break. Try to identify these early in your analysis.

  • Custom search scopes, content sources, and best bets: You will need to recrawl your content and re-establish any search settings you created in SharePoint 2007.

  • Custom security applied to portal, sites, subsites, and document libraries: You will likely need to revisit the permissions.

For a complete upgrade guide, check out

The following are some things you absolutely must do before your upgrade:

  • Run the preupgrade scan tool that comes with SharePoint 2007 SP2.

  • Do a full backup of your databases.

  • Ensure you meet all infrastructure requirements associated with SharePoint 2010.

  • Inventory all custom Web Parts and custom coding in your SharePoint 2007 environment.

  • Install all prerequisites.

  • Create custom elements (site definitions and so on) for things you’ve customized.

  • For gradual upgrades, you’ll need DNS names for the new environment, which may take time to propagate across your network.

  • Create a communication plan  to let users know when SharePoint will be down, when things will be ready, and what to expect.

After your upgrade, you should

  • Review the sites: Did SharePoint migrate the sites correctly? Are they using the right template? Is the look and feel acceptable?

  • Validate that the security model is correct.

  • Test search and ensure that any custom scopes or managed properties are enabled.

  • Look for errors in the SharePoint log or event logs. Ensure all services are running properly.

Additional Considerations

So far, we’ve outlined several questions to review in advance of your decision to upgrade your existing SharePoint 2007 environment or migrate content to a new SharePoint 2010 environment. The goal is to give you food for thought and, hopefully, convince you that a move to SharePoint 2010 requires careful planning and consideration. The decision to upgrade or migrate will be different for each organization. It will depend on the items already discussed, your users, and your ability to effectively deliver on the value proposition of SharePoint 2010 technologies. So what’s your plan? Here is an outline of some steps to help you get ready:

Educate yourself on SharePoint 2010 features. Read, see demo, find training materials that will help you appreciate the new functionality in SharePoint 2010 and how it maps to your business.

Educate yourself on how SharePoint 2010 will work in your environment. Will the features you need really be available in the configuration you have?

Decide on the proper version of SharePoint 2010? Will you use SharePoint Foundation 2010 only? Or SharePoint Server 2010 Standard? Or, do you need extended business intelligence capabilities, Excel Services, business connectivity services, or a forms server offered by SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise?

Identify the new features that you would like to implement (workflow, offline, and so on) and think about how they will integrate with the existing information architecture.

Document all the customizations made in your current environment. These include templates, Web Parts, and styles. This will serve as your checklist for functional validation as you go into Step 6.

Create a test environment with a copy of your existing SharePoint portal. Test the upgrade. Whether or not you have already made your decision, it is best to validate the upgrade process and identify any potential problem areas. Perform either an In-place Upgrade (or a partial upgrade if you have a lot of Site Collections) and get your portal up and running.

Next, verify that you can get all items that you documented in Step 5 to work successfully. Does the portal meet your needs? Will the downtime of an In-place Upgrade be acceptable to users?

Conduct focus group testing with representative users. Show them the upgraded portal. Demonstrate some of the new features. Talk to them about the positives and negatives of the existing environments. Identify your “killer applications.”

Do a whiteboard session with portal team representatives. Lay out your current taxonomy. Talk about some of the feedback from the focus groups. Identify how the features identified in Step 4 will be integrated. Devise a proposed new portal taxonomy.

Take a step back. Reflect. After going through the process, how do you feel? Will an In-place Upgrade suffice? Or do you need to do a gradual upgrade? Or is this an opportunity to build something new (and better) and introduce significant business value? How will you get there? How long will it take? Do you need help?

Be sure to visit the Microsoft TechNet site for detailed upgrade information at

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