In-Depth

Q&A with Matthew McDermott: Upgrading to SharePoint 2016

As companies grapple with the question of upgrading to SharePoint 2016, noted expert Matthew McDermott offers his thoughts.

SharePoint is not a simple application or productivity tool. It is a colossal collaboration platform. Upgrading from one version to another is a relatively major undertaking, so organizations looking at the new SharePoint 2016 are understandably cautious.

If your company is even considering moving to the new SharePoint, you owe it to yourself to check out Matthew McDermott's workshop session on Upgrading to SharePoint 2016 on Monday, Dec. 5 at  Live! 360 in Orlando, Fla. . McDermott is a noted SharePoint expert, the founder and director of Aptillon and the co-chair of Office & SharePoint Live! During his workshop, he'll run through all that's new about SharePoint 2016, help you decide whether or not you should make the upgrade and, if so, how to proceed.

What do you think is the number one feature in SharePoint 2016?
Search. For me it has always been about finding content. There are capacity improvements in SharePoint 2016 that improve the capacity of the search index to 20 Million items.

What is the primary thing IT pros should be aware of when upgrading their SharePoint farm?
Two things, actually: Start now and fix everything you can in 2013 before you upgrade. So many companies put off the inevitable and wait until it's a problem for the upgrade process. There are many things you can do in 2013 today that will improve your position with respect to upgrades. You need to start now.

What are the top risks they need to mitigate?
The number one risk is the corporate culture and the acceptance of change. Many companies are skipping SharePoint 2013 and going from SharePoint 2010 straight to SharePoint 2016. We will discuss strategies for this during the workshop, but you have to ensure your users are prepared for this change.

Did anything surprise you about SharePoint 2016?
Not really; it's very similar to the version of SharePoint online we've been using for the past year.

What is the number one thing IT pros should not do when upgrading?
Trust developers. Seriously, I see testing as the challenge for upgrades when it comes to planning. If you are upgrading a farm with Full-Trust Solutions, you need to thoroughly test them before proceeding with the upgrade.

How important is planning for these kinds of upgrades? What is your number one planning-related tip?
Practice, practice, practice! I see companies that think they know how the upgrade is going to go. Then they fail to test properly. They should do several practice runs before the go-live date.

How long do you think the typical upgrade should last from start to finish (including planning)?
This can vary widely from company to company, as it is based on so many variables. Even a simple upgrade should consist of planning and investigation phases, and deciding whether or not you are going to upgrade Service Applications. There is more to an upgrade than just the content on team sites. You have to consider external dependencies as well, like Workflow and Office Online Server, and how you are going to perform directory synchronization.

Find out more about Live! 360 2016 in Orlando here.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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