My session at SharePoint Conference is on Social Intranet strategy on Thursday at noon SPC 291 (Lando 4204-4306) at #SPC14. In the process, Shane Young was reaching out asking for best practices and considerations around upgrade. I put together this list as I was thinking about all the things people are likely to miss in their upgrade and deployment plans. To some this list may seem like things to get you distracted, but ultimately I think you need a wholistic strategy and answers to many of these things, even if the answer is… our plan is to wait until after upgrade. While the upgrade itself is pretty similar between a SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 with a few exceptions (mostly the services). I have found that SharePoint 2013 upgrades about communication and planning. The actual upgrade is really pretty simple technically.
1. SharePoint and Yammer Analytics are very weak and disappointing (worse than in 2010). Have a Plan. – They are worse than they were in 2010. Make sure you are well aware of your plan for web analytics. SharePoint 2013 Analytics A Big Step Backward. Also I would encourage you to look at ViewDo Labs analytics solution for Yammer that has an option for SharePoint relay to see a combined view. While I’m not as big on the SharePoint relay service, I am a big fan of the simple reports in the ViewPoint app for Yammer (Product Analysis: ViewDo Labs ViewPoint – Enterprise Social Analytics) which can help with monitoring and reporting. Cardiolog and WebTrends have put together analytics solutions for SharePoint. [Disclosure I do Evangelism for ViewDo Labs and I’ve done a review on Cardiolog, but I think the part about SharePoint and Yammer analytics both as lacking are pretty obvious.] Step 1 in touching your new design, plan to incorporate your analytics solution into your masterpage if you want awesome reporting. I know in a past life, it was our deep integration in our new masterpages with Omniture that finally got the business interested in what was really going on with the Intranet. As we rolled out the master pages and global navigation bar we called the feature bar across 100% of all of the SharePoint sites was a huge win for transparency into what was being used and how. We also finally got great global rollups on how people were searching and where they were navigating. Don’t discount analytics in your deployments of ESN, Social Intranets, or global SharePoint rollouts. You’ll need that data to answer where you should go next. 10 Yammer User Tips to Get Started
2. SharePoint Social is BIG in SharePoint 2013 have a plan – I encourage people to use the upgrade as an opportunity to pull in Yammer integration. I think it’s a mistake to roll out the SharePoint social features without ensuring you’re committed to 2 years at least if you get your users using it. It’s not fun for users to use SharePoint 2013 social features and then be told to go use yammer some 6 months or 1 year down the road. I’m totally cool with SharePoint social being a feed or being committed to it, but don’t go half way. I do support SharePoint 2013 social with yammer as an activity feed, but I simply find that the SharePoint feed is yet another place to post your microblog. Why confuse the users? Yammer is SharePoint and 5 Additional SharePoint Roadmap Insights for SharePoint 2014 and Beyond… Here are a few information architectural considerations Social Architecture for Yammer, Office 365 and SharePoint 2013 also a good time to freshen up on limits that support consolidation SharePoint Outer Limits: SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 File Library List Limits. Also consider the Newsgator social if you aren’t doing yammer NewsGator Reveals New Social Case Studies
3. Communities – Communities are a new site template that can definitely confuse users if they already have Yammer groups. There are ways of turning off that template. As cool as it is the community features in SharePoint 2013 were cool, but half baked. As a result I tell people either be serious about SharePoint social or turn it off. Some have embraced these new templates with reputation. I was reassured they would be supported going forward, but I remain skeptical about their future improvement. Is this the new blog that never get’s updated?
4. Architectural changes – First while many are simply going it’s all about the cloud, many are faced with hybrid considerations, or afraid of what’s next. SharePoint is NOT Dead and even on-prem is alive and well! Search is a major consideration in hybrid or on premises topologies and architecture. It’s more plastic and easier to scale out. Fast is baked into everything in SharePoint 2013. The Distributed cache service is a PAIN. It’s the new profile service in terms of getting it configured right. Search is very important, it needs to be crazy fast. Most should review requirements on search which may require additional hardware. Microsoft is recommending many customers to consolidate their farms so they can beef up search/indexing/crawling infrastructure.
5. Responsive Design – Responsive Web Design has changed the industry. Anyone who doesn’t educate themselves and SERIOUSLY investigate building a 2013 masterpage built to leverage the HTML5 and CSS improvements is shooting themselves in the foot. A major consideration in any design refresh. Don’t spend too much time on “Channels” in SharePoint 2013. How Quickly Can Responsive Web Design Make a Difference to Mobile Usage? Are You Designed To Take Advantage of Mobile? SharePoint and Enterprise Mobile – Transformational Yet Most Struggle and Don’t Know What To Do…
6. Mobile Support – There’s all the mobile apps for SharePoint, but those don’t work so well if the infrastructure isn’t setup and tested to support the mobile apps. You should seriously have a test and evaluation and security plan for firewall testing, remote user testing and mobile support for either MS mobile apps or one of the vendor solutions that add even more security considerations like harmon.ie mobile, Colligo, or Mobile Entrée or the many others that are way better than the simple apps MS provides (that are all new for SP 2013!).
7. Browser support – Older versions of Internet Explorer become non supported/not tested. IE 8 stops being supported on Office 365 for example in April of 2014. The improved browser support in SharePoint 2013 is worth shouting from the roof tops as to one of the big reasons why the business should get excited about the upgrade, let alone the multi file upload drag and drop capabilities from mac to chrome to safari and beyond. Here are some great references Seriously Time to Revisit Your Enterprise Browser Standards, SharePoint 2010 to 2013 Browser Comparison Report Card, Office 365 will No longer support Internet Explorer 8 after April 2014. If you’re looking for other things to tell the business for “Why upgrade” here’s a decent list: SharePoint 2013 Top 10 New Features
8. OneDrive for Business – Step 1. Admit you can’t do OneDrive better than MS for as cheap as they can. If you disagree with this statement, you’ve got some serious work to do in your planning for rolling out 10GB-100GB Drives for your users. I will tell you right now, this is the best toe in the water, personal extranet that you can buy from Microsoft. More reasons why at #SPC14 watch my blog for more info on the announcements, and I do mean announcements that will be happening this next week. 5 Reasons OneDrive for Business on (SkyDrive Pro) Office 365 is Better Than Yours
9. Office Web Apps – New server requirement means topology considerations. There is some considerations around licensing (read only is free). If you’re going to do read/write then you need licenses.
10. Dev App Model – One of the most significant impacts is this question of to support custom server solutions or to not. I believe upgrade time is a great time to evaluate what was used effectively and to consolidate and separate. Remove dependencies that are no longer needed. (This is an operating procedure that requires great skill… don’t take removing solutions lightly.) If you can remove all of the custom server solutions then you should be asking why you are not in the cloud. If you have many server solutions, you should question the pace and the value going into SP 2013 with so much custom and consider pushing the app model. As well, consider how Azure will fit into future development plans to reduce server footprint. From now on you should seriously consider keeping server footprint light and restricted to third parties that you really trust.