IT Tips & Tricks
12 April 2021
SharePoint 2010 End of Life — The Phoenix Phenomenon
With SharePoint 2010 poised to retire, the question is: Have you identified your new phoenix?
The phoenix — that iconic, mythical creature, rising undefeated from the ashes — is a fitting metaphor for the SharePoint 2010 End of Life situation.
Since a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor, think of SharePoint 2010 as the predecessor and whatever you’ll be replacing it with as your brand new, victorious phoenix. While legend has it that the old phoenix dies in a vivid show of flames and combustion, we doubt the demise of SharePoint 2010 will be as dramatic as that (although it may feel that way for some), but the replacement options certainly could be viewed as a gloriously victorious ascent from the ashes of the old.
Beyond updates and bug fixes, End of Life means very real security risks.
This article outlines some of the options available to you.
… determine whether on-premises or the Cloud is ultimately going to serve you better.
SharePoint 2010’s End of Life is set for 13 April 2021, but don’t get trapped into believing that you’re doomed if you haven’t made any changes yet. If you’re still on SharePoint 2010 and have not yet migrated to something else, there’s still an opportunity for an astute alternative and we’ve outlined your options below. And, trust us, some of these options potentially feel very much like the victorious phoenix rising from the ashes.
If you’ve been running SharePoint 2010 (on premises), there were initially two potential routes open to you: 1) stay on-premises and upgrade to a newer version of SharePoint, or 2) upgrade to SharePoint Online (in the Cloud) in Microsoft 365. As that window of opportunity gradually draws to a close, the options have shifted.
End of Life 101
First, let’s cover a couple of fundamentals, much of which you may already know, but it never hurts to review. Then we’ll get down to business and talk about what this means for you.
In the case of SharePoint 2010, what exactly is “End of Life”? In a nutshell, it means no more updates or bug fixes and no more security patches. If you’re a SharePoint 2010 user, it means, to all intents and purposes, that your organization is at severe risk for interruptions to critical business functions and security breaches.
End of Life for SharePoint 2010 was originally set for October 2020, but given that 2020 was also the year of Covid-19, Microsoft graciously announced an extended support period that expires on 13 April 2021.
If you are using 2010 on-premises and want to remain on-premises, you may be wondering if a rapid upgrade is possible.
Here’s the reality: The first step would be the migration to SharePoint 2013. Theoretically, next would be the migration to SharePoint 2016 and, finally, to SharePoint 2019.
We do have an idea for you that prevents one of the most common causes of data loss during a migration …
(Yes, if your destination is SharePoint 2019, you do have to migrate to each of these successive versions. You’d think a company with thousands of software engineers could come up with a faster, more-direct upgrade path.)
But there’s no need for three back-to-back migrations right as the curtain comes down on SharePoint 2010. Only one is required right now: SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013.
Staying with SharePoint on-premises may require hardware version upgrades by 2023.
For most medium- to large-sized companies, a single migration can take up to a year. In light of that, attempting to condense three migrations into a tiny sliver of time seems unrealistic and, fortunately, is unnecessary. In short, there are alternatives available to you.
For smaller- to mid-sized companies, for example, moving to SharePoint 2013 is not a bad idea, on the proviso that you accept you’ll have to perform another migration before SharePoint 2013’s End of Life in 2023.
Now remember, migrations are often plagued with other issues. Bear in mind that each migration potentially subjects the organization to human error and dreaded data loss, and we’ve not yet even considered issues such as labor costs and end-user training.
(We do have an idea for you that prevents one of the most common causes of data loss during a migration, which is covered toward the end of this article.)
Did we also mention that SharePoint 2016 and 2019 might not run on the same server version that SharePoint 2010 uses? Depending on usage and current set-up, you may have to upgrade your hardware version (or the hardware itself) as well as your current installation. Please bear in mind that all SharePoint versions already have End of Life dates.
If you were thinking, “Well, we’ll just update to 2013 for now and think about the rest later,” congratulations, you’ve bought yourself more time in which to determine whether on-premises or the Cloud is ultimately going to serve you better.
Here are the End of Life dates, as published by Microsoft:
- SharePoint 2013: End of Life: 11 April 2023
- SharePoint 2016: End of Life: 14 July 2026
- SharePoint 2019: End of Life: 14 July 2026 (Yes, the same date!)
Here’s Microsoft’s explanation of SharePoint 2019’s obviously early End of Life:
“Question: Why is the product lifecycle for SharePoint Server 2019 shorter than 10 years?
… the issue that sends shivers down the spines of most IT veterans is security …
Answer: As previously announced in KB article 408 6137, the Microsoft Office 2019 family of products will provide 5 years of mainstream support, followed by 2 years of extended support. This will allow Microsoft to better support our customers as we rapidly innovate these products and Cloud services. SharePoint Server 2016 was released later than the other products in the Microsoft Office 2016 family and therefore has a later extended support end date. To ensure that SharePoint Server 2019 doesn't end support earlier than previous versions of SharePoint Server, SharePoint Server 2019 will align its extended support end date with the SharePoint Server 2016 extended support end date.” — Mark Kashman, Microsoft Tech Community
For most, the ultimate destination will be in the Cloud.
So, if you’re determined to stay on-premises, you’re either going to have to (a) opt to stay with unsupported SharePoint 2010, or (b) perform a migration to SharePoint 2013 (or a later version).
You could opt to migrate to SharePoint 2013 now, then before April 2023, update your servers (if needed) and migrate to SharePoint 2016 and ultimately, if required, to SharePoint 2019.
However, that’s several migrations and possibly new hardware versions to get to SharePoint 2016 or 2019. Although technically doable, this may not be the most efficient strategy.
This brings us to option two, which might, in fact, be the most sensible option at this point: Migrate to SharePoint in Microsoft 365 online, in the Cloud.
Look, the truth is that the world is changing; the way in which we do business is changing; the way employees interact is changing and Microsoft has recognized that much, evolving their products to keep pace with this ever-changing environment.
Let’s take a closer look at on-premises versus the Cloud.
At first glance, it seems logical to simply migrate from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013, if you haven’t already done so. Essentially, this would buy you some time in which to decide whether to continue with SharePoint on-premises. Electing to remain on-premises would possibly require a hardware version upgrade by 2023, which would then buy you additional time until July of 2026.
Whether or not that expense is justified for your organization would require some analysis on your part. What you’d essentially be purchasing is simply a bit more time on-premises, followed, most probably, by a migration to Microsoft 365 in the Cloud by mid-2026.
…each migration potentially subjects the organization to human error and dreaded data loss …
Let’s assume for the moment that you’re either planning a migration to SharePoint 2013 or have already done so. This means that the next fork in your road appears in 2023. One path (path A), leads to possibly upgrading your hardware or hardware version (if needed) and moving to SharePoint 2016 or 2019, which will last you until 2026. The other path (path B) leads to a migration to the Cloud and SharePoint in Microsoft 365.
Of course, path A ultimately leads to the same destination as path B, it’s just delayed by a couple of years. So, the question arises: For your organization, is there any point in upgrading the hardware and moving to SharePoint 2016 or 2019? That answer is going to vary enormously, organization to organization, depending on your budget, the scale of a potential migration and a zillion other factors.
Would it be smarter to circumvent the upgrades of SharePoint 2016 or 2019 and move from SharePoint 2013 directly to Microsoft 365 online? Again, that’s a call only you can make. One thing, however, seems fairly certain: For most, the ultimate destination will be in the Cloud.
Collaboration goals: anyone, anywhere, on any device.
If you’re seriously considering staying on-premises for the foreseeable future, there are a few things for you to consider. On-premises legacy systems will decline, gradually presenting more and more issues, such as:
- A lack of agility,
- Incompatibility issues,
- Greater instability,
- Lower performance and higher consumption of resources,
- Large investment with ongoing hidden costs.
Aside from the loss of technical support after 13 April 2021, the issue that sends shivers down the spines of most IT veterans is security and this definitely applies to those electing to remain with SharePoint 2010. Without the usual security updates, your server becomes vulnerable to security breaches.
As Mark Kashman, Senior Product Manager on the SharePoint team at Microsoft, politely understates: “Your installation of SharePoint Server 2010 will of course continue to run after April 13; however, due to potential end of support risks, we strongly recommend that you migrate from SharePoint Server 2010 as soon as possible.” See that word, “risks”? Yes, exactly. Let’s take a look at the alternative.
Although the SharePoint 2010 platform formed the bedrock for many organizations, over the years there was also some frustration with a few of the limitations that came with it. More recently, with Microsoft embracing the Cloud, SharePoint has been cleverly revitalized and now forms a stylish foundation for Microsoft 365, Teams and OneDrive. Given the diverse nature of these tools, any organization considering migrating away from SharePoint 2010 should be seriously considering Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online as their home for the foreseeable future. Microsoft believes that legacy systems are a dying technology, hence the recommendation to migrate to either Cloud-based solutions or a hybrid of server and online. What do we know about SharePoint Online?
… the result is a dynamic platform that allows anyone, anywhere, to create and collaborate on any device.
SharePoint Online is contained within Microsoft 365, which is a Cloud-based subscription service that gathers, in one place, some of the finest tools for the way people work today. Not only does Microsoft 365 have a constantly expanding set of tools, they are, believe it or not, also genuinely easier than ever to learn. Additionally, Microsoft has updated their new capabilities so that they require significantly less customization than earlier versions, plus they have a more modern aesthetic, with a fresh new look and feel. Welcome to your new phoenix.
Combine the apps with the powerful Cloud services and the result is a dynamic platform that allows anyone, anywhere, to create and collaborate on any device. Also, bear in mind that the SharePoint Migration Tool can transition you from SharePoint 2010 to Microsoft 365, with sources quoting a migration time frame of anything from less than 30 days up to around 90 days, depending on the scale of your project. What are the negatives?
- Although Microsoft offers a tool to help you perform your migration to the Cloud, it isn’t always perfect (but at least you’ll be able to get support from Microsoft).
- SharePoint Online isn’t necessarily cheap, but it compensates in other ways (as mentioned above).
- SharePoint Online is more rigid than its on-premises counterparts, meaning existing on-premises customization and third-party web parts may be lost, although there are definite compensations within the more modern, upgraded online platform.
Most migrations are a pretty bumpy ride, but there are ways to smooth the road ahead.
Price is often a key factor in decision-making, so bear in mind that there are expenses related to implementation, licenses, optimization and maintenance.
Price, however, shouldn’t be the only determining factor and the results of a transition to the Cloud should not be dismissed without astute investigation and analysis of the plethora of benefits available from SharePoint within Microsoft 365.
From the Horse’s Mouth
Since Microsoft has already extended support for SharePoint 2010 from October 2020 to April 2021, there have been (obviously hopeful) questions as to whether or not they will once again extend support. Here is a direct quote from Microsoft:
“Q: Will Microsoft extend support for SharePoint 2010 beyond April 13, 2021?
A: Microsoft has no plans to extend support for SharePoint 2010 beyond April 13, 2021. This is a one-time extension due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Microsoft strongly recommends that customers complete their migrations and upgrades before end of support on April 13, 2021.”
That sounds like a firm, “No,” to us. If you’ve not yet upgraded to SharePoint 2013, now is the time to get busy. Tick-tock, tick-tock …
The Last Word
As stated, moving to SharePoint in Microsoft 365 will give you a host of benefits: enhanced security, increased productivity and, in all honesty, a pretty advantageous total cost of ownership. Plus, with Microsoft 365, you get out of the perpetual upgrade business, allowing you to simply get down to your business.
We all know that sometimes there is resistance to change, but we also know that sometimes resistance is futile. When one looks at all the improvements, the ROI (return on investment) becomes obvious for many organizations. Microsoft Teams alone, as a single example, offers a significantly enhanced user experience and extended capabilities over the offerings of SharePoint 2010. In fact, it’s hard not to be impressed by some of the changes.
For companies that need to remain on-premises for one reason or another (perhaps clients with highly sensitive or confidential data), one possibility is to eventually upgrade to SharePoint Server 2016 or 2019, which will allow you to take advantage of the latest collaboration and productivity features on offer, with longevity until 2026.
… it may be prudent to maintain a mixed environment (some data in the Cloud, some under your personal control) …
Alternatively, it may be prudent to maintain a mixed environment (some data in the Cloud, some under your personal control), which is also useful if you have tons of inactive data that could be archived, as this would reduce your migration load.
Very few (if any) migrations go 100% smoothly. A common problem is lost or missing data that causes post-migration downtime and upset end-users. One of the most common causes of that missing data is broken links, which, with a product called LinkFixer Advanced, are (a) avoidable if you’ve not yet commenced your migration or (b) repairable if you’ve already completed a migration. If you have any questions about migrations, preventing data loss due to broken links or repairing currently broken links, please feel free to call 727-442-1822 to chat with a friendly Service Consultant or visit us at www.linktek.com for more information.