*This is the fourth article in a continuation of our weekly series celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Office 365; Part two Paul Robichaux details his experiences with the advent of cloud voice; In Part three Nicolas Blank shares his experience as a Microsoft Certified Master of Exchange 2010 and how he followed Exchange into the cloud.

The Beginning of My Journey into the Cloud

In June 2011, I was a consultant with EMC Consulting focused on migrating customers’ legacy Notes applications to SharePoint and moving SharePoint 2003, 2007, and 2010 customers to SharePoint 2013. That same month, Office 365 reached general availability, and I wondered how long it would be until there was an offering for SharePoint to be included in Microsoft’s cloud offering.

In July of 2012, a public beta of SharePoint Online was made available, and in February 2013, Office 365 SharePoint Online was released, adding a whole new dynamic for SharePoint migration planning.

I looked at this release as being the first of many releases. This was an online version of what was available in the on-premises product – with some limitations. While the feature set in the online version lagged the on-premises version, I knew this would change over time.

Changing the Conversation

Most of my conversations with customers with regards to Office 365 centered around SharePoint migrations and custom applications. Third-party application providers were quickly moving to provide SharePoint Online migration tools. As a result, all the conversations that I had with customers and other consultants changed.

I started to pitch SharePoint Online as a new and better target for migrations. It was an easy pitch, too:

  • Migrate once to the cloud and stay there
  • No hardware purchases
  • Sell or repurpose your existing hardware
  • Lower administration costs
  • No planning for upgrades or installing fixes
  • Keep on-premises any applications that are complex and cannot run in SharePoint Online

With regards to custom applications, this was a big concern for customers and consultants looking to maximize their SharePoint investment. These concerns extended even more to SharePoint Online. But I saw an opportunity to standardize and simplify most of the applications, and there were some good third-party form and workflow applications available to support my view.

Pitching to Cloud-Weary Skeptics

Of course, in those early days, there were still a lot of customers not ready to buy into the cloud. I explained that they may be able to justify staying on-premises this year. But the argument for going to the cloud would get stronger every year until they would eventually not be able to refute it. Eventually, I believed, changes would happen faster in the cloud than on-premises.

There were usually three types of customers who were ready to make the move:

  1. Moving content from a legacy platform (e.g., Lotus Notes) and starting over on SharePoint Online
  2. Ready to move from SharePoint 2007 or 2010 to the cloud – at least with some of their collaboration applications
  3. Introducing SharePoint Online as the new collaboration solution

The first and second sets of customers had a better chance at adopting SharePoint Online as their users were forced to use it. Both sets struggled with migrating custom applications. The third set of customers managed adoption issues with their users.

Fast Forward to the Present!

In an amazing and fortunate turn of events, I now manage the same migration products I used to recommend as a consultant in my role at Quest! We’ve seen tremendous growth in the number of Microsoft 365 users over the past ten years. We’ve all seen the SharePoint Online platform add many new and amazing features over the past ten years. One of the most popular Office applications ever (Microsoft Teams) uses SharePoint Online for storing most of its content.

10 years later and instead of an on-premises migration, you now have a tenant-to-tenant Office 365 migration. Check out this e-book to learn the Top Five Ways to Prepare for Your Next Office 365 Tenant Migration.

About the Author

Randy Rempel

Randy Rempel has 25 years of experience with designing, delivering, and managing a variety of solutions with an emphasis on legacy application migrations to the Microsoft platform. As a Senior Product Manager for Quest, he manages content migration products that provide solutions related to tenant-to-tenant mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. Randy has earned several Microsoft certifications over the years along with a few IBM, Scrum, and ITIL certifications.

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