Real World Upgrade: What We Learned Last Week

Real world is always more raw and has so many more variables. I think we’ll continue to learn always… not matter how many tests you do.

Even after doing a test upgrade 2 weeks prior. Engineering completed an upgrade and here’s what we saw:

  1. Plan on Doing Visual Upgrade Soon – Sites that were binary upgraded all new sites created underneath existing non visually upgraded sites where in the 2010 look and feel. Yes all new sites were 2010, but also all new webs were as well. Some of these new webs underneath sites that were not visually upgraded had issues with list creation. You could go directly to the create page if you knew the URL, but otherwise it would hang. Work around was to upgrade the root site collection. We weren’t ready to do this due to a custom look and feel.
  2. Workflows can be problematic especially if they have Fab 40 dependencies – We had a number of sites that had problems with workflows. Apparently we had some small bits of an application template that were dependencies. A list definition from a custom site definition in one of the app templates was being used. Yeah, I very upset at those app templates, more because I’m the admin and don’t see the value in them, but also because due to MS not supporting them in SharePoint 2010 we have concerns about supportability. Yes, Kahlil rocks and it’s great he upgraded the Fabulous 40 all those for the rest of us, but it hasn’t been very clean, and I now don’t consider these sites "vanilla." This was supposed to be an easy upgrade of some out of the box sites. I had been saying I didn’t think we needed a third party tool since we just had out of the box sites. Now I’m saying I need a script to track down customizations to a greater detail than test-spcontentdatabase. I sure wish either preupgradecheck or test-spcontentdatabase would actually identify the site collection that’s impacted due to the custom site def or feature, so we could plan on using third party migration tools like Quests Migration Manager for post migration sync, or Metalogix Migration Manager for SharePoint for site migration and workflows or AvePoint’s free 100GB of data deal. Something that will make getting out of these customizations. We were hoping to simply attach these databases and simply ignore the errors. This was a big mistake. While the data looks fine there are a lot of issues underneath with dependencies such as list templates, workflows and so on that apparently break if those features aren’t in place. Those features being specific app 40 templates. Now we’re looking differently at ensuring on the 2007 side things are nice and clean with 0 errors related to missing features. I’ve been stressing that we shouldn’t be getting any upgrade errors or warnings if we’ve actually prepared our databases correctly. We’re looking at separating those site collections that have app 40 templates into a "chocolate farm" separate from our vanilla farm. I think this is a good start to keeping a clean environment and may need to start some type of charge back for those that need application functionality.
  3. Some Excel Webparts ended up slower, but we think this is due to the number of cells we are publishing. We’ve built our own Gantt charts into excel that are data driven and displayed as colored cells. Hence each webpart is rendering thousands of cells. Not sure how we’re going to optimize these webparts since they were faster to render in 2007.
  4. Microsoft support – If you have a Sev A. You do get Microsoft’s attention. We went through a lot of engineers. If you request you can have a dedicated PFE if you’re a large enough customer and actually have them handle the relationship on tickets. We were having an issue with timely returns with lower priority tickets, and Sev A is expensive. So we plan to have MCS or PFE resources lined up this next time we do a big upgrade.

More lessons to come…

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