Tim Coalson is a Senior Consultant in the Transformation Practice at ThreeWill. Tim has been developing solutions on the SharePoint platform for over 15 years and has been a developer/consultant for over 30 years. Tim has been involved in migrating SharePoint on-premises farms to the Microsoft Cloud, Power Apps, and Power Automate (aka Flow) which are part of the Microsoft no code/low code solutions.
File Shares. What was once a great solution has now become an anchor that most companies are challenged to deal with. Most corporate file shares grew out of control years ago and now you are left with the challenge of what to do with all those files. Truth be told, many of those files have long since outlived their value and may possibly be a liability. However, there are other files that are still being used for reference or are actively being used.
Why should I migrate my File Share?
Since the introduction of File Shares years ago, technology has advanced to include more appropriate file storage solutions. SharePoint has become the primary file storage technology at Microsoft and SharePoint includes features like file versioning and a two-stage recycle bin that allows users to retrieve previous versions of a document or recover a file accidentally deleted. In addition, SharePoint supports new features like co-authoring where multiple users can all edit the same file in real-time. Also, migrating your documents into SharePoint unleashes the power of the Microsoft Power Platform where document approval and other process automation can be applied by your “citizen developers”. And, of course, living in the cloud instead of a corporate file share provides safety and security from a failed server that could bring things to a sudden halt.
From a practical perspective, announcing that a File Share will be turned off becomes a catalyst to motivate individuals and teams to identify what files are needed and required to be migrated. This in and of itself should help identify files that are no longer needed and can be deleted permanently. Be aware that there could be files in your file share that are used by Applications, so raise this awareness with your application development teams to ensure these applications work after the migration.
For those who may not be as familiar with Microsoft Teams and OneDrive, the back-end file storage for these products is SharePoint. So, migrations from a File Share to the Microsoft cloud are just different versions of migrations to SharePoint.
Where should I migrate my File Share?
At ThreeWill, we like to categorize files into personal files, collaborative files, and authoritative files. Personal files, as the name suggests, are owned by and are for an individual. These files should be migrated to Microsoft OneDrive. Collaborative files are files that are owned by a team of at least two people and are used internally to support a process or work in progress to ultimately become or contribute to an authoritative document that will be “published” for the benefit of others. Collaborative files should be migrated to an appropriate Microsoft Team that is secured to the team of people who contribute to this content. Authoritative files are documents of record generally “published” to a community of users to communicate facts. These files are recommended to be part of a company intranet which is implemented using Microsoft SharePoint.
So, before you begin migrating files from a File Share to the Microsoft cloud, you can see that there is work to be done to identify file ownership and to determine the proper destination for the file to be migrated. It is likely that most if not all employees already have OneDrive so individual users can be responsible to copy this content into their own personal OneDrive. However, when it comes to migrating files into Microsoft Teams and a SharePoint intranet, more thought and planning needs to be given. If your organization is already using Microsoft Teams, many of the destination Teams will already exist. If not, they can be created. However, before you create a new problem by creating sprawl in Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, proper planning should be done to ensure the end result is organized in a meaningful way that can serve the organization for years to come.
ThreeWill offers a Teams Enablement service and an Intelligent Intranet service to help an organization properly prepare for such a migration to ensure not only a successful File Share migration but rich collaboration in Microsoft Teams and an intranet that communicates compelling and authoritative content to the organization.
How should I migrate my File Share?
Once the target SharePoint sites have been created for the files that need to migrate, there are several ways that content can be migrated depending on the volume of content, the timeframe, and any specific requirements.
The most basic but possibly the most effective method to “migrate” files is “drag and drop” or “cut and paste”. Individuals or Teams can move their own files from the file share into SharePoint whether that is OneDrive, Teams, or Intranet sites. It’s all SharePoint and SharePoint supports drag and drop.
If there is a requirement to maintain the original author, original permissions, date created or date modified, there are tools that can be used, free and paid, to migrate the content. However, the biggest challenge in performing a file migration is not choosing the right tool. There is a lot of planning and communication that needs to take place to minimize any impact on the user community. There is also training to ensure that your users know how to use OneDrive, Teams, and SharePoint so they are not frustrated and also to avoid a lot of support calls during the migration.
ThreeWill is well-versed in handling large file migrations. We know how to work with your team that is responsible for the migration to make sure the proper planning, communication, and training are in place to be successful. And we know how to execute the plan and keep the chief stakeholders informed to ensure no surprises along the way.
If you are considering a file share migration to the cloud and would like a partner to help, please reach out to us here.