Migration Madness: SharePoint 2010

Now that SharePoint 2010 is shipping, partners are primed to handle upgrades on customers' terms.

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past six weeks, you're probably well aware that the 2010 versions of Office and SharePoint have arrived. Now that the new Microsoft content authoring and management platform is finally shipping, with it comes a new helping of tools and consulting services to support migrations of the eagerly awaited software.

The official launch was May 12, when Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, took the wraps off of Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 at NBC Studios in New York on the set of "Saturday Night Live," just days after actress Betty White made her own debut as host on the very same stage.

The Office/SharePoint release was followed a few weeks ago by a bevy of new migration and administration tools, as well as value-added apps that a swath of vendors launched at the Microsoft Tech•Ed 2010 North America conference in New Orleans.

As outlined in our 2010 product roadmap, SharePoint 2010 ranked among the most important new products of the year (see "2010 Wave of Microsoft Product Crests," February 2010). Though partners are enthusiastic about the prospects for revitalizing new IT projects (see "Chomping at the SharePoint Bit," April 2010), it remains to be seen how quickly the Microsoft customer base will upgrade.

"Companies have made a lot of investments in [SharePoint] 2007, so I think they're going to try to get some mileage out of them," says Gartner Inc. analyst Mark Gilbert.

Also, many organizations may not have the infrastructures needed to run SharePoint 2010, a potential opportunity for those who deploy infrastructure. "The initial feedback is that SharePoint 2010 is vastly improved, but there are a lot of people who don't have those 64-bit farms in place. It's not just the server hardware, [but] the memory," Gilbert adds.

Another potential source of delay: Customers may wait to see what the 2010 version of SharePoint Online looks like. It's expected to be a vast improvement over the current hosted version. "I'd say 25 percent of our clients are looking to evaluate the online version," says Markus Sprenger, global solution director for information management at IT services firm Avanade Inc.

The online version of SharePoint 2010 is due out later this year, Microsoft confirmed at the launch. Other organizations opting for premises-installed products may wait until the first service packs are released, a common approach to new software releases, though it's more common with desktop products than server platforms.

Cautious Migrations
Del Monte Foods Co. is among those enterprises that are interested in deploying SharePoint 2010, and in fact showcased its interest on a customer panel at the launch event. But officials at Del Monte, which has older versions of SharePoint, say they're not rushing into an enterprise SharePoint 2010 migration, either. "We're still trying to finalize our plans," says Jonathan Wynn, manager of advanced technology and collaborative services at Pittsburgh-based Del Monte.

"There are still a couple of approaches we need to take," Wynn adds. "First, we need to certify our existing enterprise applications that we currently have. We do have some applications that have add-ins and hooks into other products like Excel and we need to go through a full compatibility test of them before we go ahead and certify them and roll them out. Then we typically do a refresh of all our PCs within our organization. We do one-third every year, so whether or not we do it through the tradition of refreshing our PCs or whether we push it out to the end users, we haven't really figured that out."

 "We do have some applications that have add-ins and hooks into other products like Excel and we need to go through a full compatibility test of them before we go ahead and certify them and roll them out."

Jonathan Wynn, Manager, Advanced Technology and Collaborative Services, Del Monte Foods Co.

Del Monte already has enterprise agreements with Microsoft via its Software Assurance licensing plan, adds David Glenn, the company's director of enterprise operations.

"We're ready to execute on all the new tools that are coming from the 2010 wave," Glenn says.

The company is currently running SharePoint 2010 within its labs with some proof-of-concept apps for departments already developed, Wynn says. Del Monte now is in the process of pulling a plan together with partner Ascentium to revamp all of the portals within the organization, according to Wynn.

"They're doing a lot of the look-and-feel stuff, a lot of the governance work and a lot of the metadata services," Wynn says. "It's a great opportunity for us to hook up with a partner who's really done some fabulous work and has a very good track record," Glenn adds.

All-Purpose Enterprise Tool
Indeed, a growing number of clients like Del Monte are looking to use SharePoint to do more robust management and searching of content within the enterprise, says Mike Doane, a content architect at Ascentium. "Clients are now asking us for strategies and implementations for taxonomies in SharePoint 2010, whereas before it was still a new topic for them, so it's exciting that they're coming to us as opposed to us having to educate them," Doane says.

For Ascentium, SharePoint was a platform that allowed it to create its own area of focus, branding itself as a digital "experience agency" focusing on helping customers use social media to communicate internally, externally and with business partners.

"The lines are starting to get blurred between B-to-C, B-to-B and B-to-E," says John Kottcamp, Ascentium chief marketing officer. "As all these different avenues and channels of communication start blending, especially at the enterprise level, you need to be able to start creating and using platforms that allow you to manage that communication."

As a Gold Certified Partner, Ascentium is handling a broad array of implementation requirements and offers the full gamut of Microsoft apps, including BizTalk Server, SQL Server and Office, in addition to SharePoint. One of the key new capabilities released in SharePoint 2010 that Ascentium sees demand for is the optional FAST search engine. Targeted at larger enterprises, it adds sophisticated search capabilities to the SharePoint platform.

Sprenger, of Avanade, sees SharePoint 2010 bringing together fragmented SharePoint 2003 and 2007 deployments. "Companies have deployed SharePoint in departments mainly for collaboration team sites, and now they want to use SharePoint 2010 to a true enterprise rollout, with global taxonomies, global rollouts and global security models," Sprenger says.

Because these are complex migrations, organizations need to plan out the IT and business-process implications of moving to SharePoint 2010, according to Sprenger. "If you see how SharePoint has evolved in a lot of companies, it has become a mission-critical application," he explains. "A lot of processes, a lot of information is in SharePoint, and upgrading the change management that comes with these upgrades is significant, so these are complex projects."

ISVs Seize the Opportunity
That complexity has bred opportunity for ISV partners of Microsoft. A slew of ISVs have released migration and management tools for SharePoint 2010. They include Axceler, AvePoint Inc., Idera, Metalogix Software Corp., Quest Software Inc., Tzunami Inc. and Vyapin Software Systems Ltd.

ISV partners say they're seeing high demand for migration tools in part because Microsoft only offers basic tooling -- but more pointedly, interest in upgrading to SharePoint 2010 is high.

"We see it going from zero to 60," says Rick Pleczko, Idera president and CEO. "We're amazed at the amount of demand we've had." Pleczko says demand for SharePoint 2010 is outpacing that of SQL Server 2005, until now the most widely upgraded platform in the seven-year history of Idera.

Looking to bolster its portfolio of SharePoint administration tools, Idera last month at Tech•Ed said it has acquired iDevFactory, a supplier of security administration software.

In addition to offering SharePoint administration and migration tools, Idera, a division of BBS Technologies Inc., supplies administration and management software for Microsoft SQL Server database and Windows PowerShell.

Despite its tight focus, Idera, a Gold Certified Partner, says it has 7,000 enterprise customers ranging from small to the very largest of shops. The addition of iDevFactory gives Idera a tool that will give administrators and systems auditors a view of the security of the SharePoint environment, according to Pleczko.

"It allows you to manage the rights, managements and permissions to documents and content stored in SharePoint," Pleczko says of the iDevFactory software. "It's a fairly rich product."

Known as the iDevFactory Universal SharePoint Manager, Idera is renaming it the Idera SharePoint Security Manager. In conjunction with the acquisition, Idera is launching a new release to support SharePoint 2010. The new release adds support for multiple forms management and the ability in SharePoint Web Parts to delegate functions to end users. The new release starts at $4,995 per server. Pleczko says the team of iDevFactory, which consists of fewer than 10 employees, will join Idera. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal is the second recent acquisition for Idera, which also acquired the Sonar performance management tooling from Binary Wave Ltd. in October. The latter company is a SharePoint consultancy.

A Growing SharePoint 2010 Market
Idera is not the only SharePoint tools vendor looking to bolster its portfolio. Axceler, also a supplier of SharePoint administration software, last month announced it had acquired echoTechnology, a provider of SharePoint migration tools.

"The most important thing to SharePoint administrators is migration," says Gail Shlansky, director of product management at Axceler. The company developed the Davinci Migrator for SharePoint 2010, which was released last month. The tool supports migration from multiple sources, including SharePoint 2007 and 2003, Lotus Notes and file shares, Shlansky says.

"The migration from SharePoint 2003 to 2007 was quite complex because Microsoft really didn't provide much of an upgrade path and a lot of the functionality with the two releases was quite different," she explains. "The migration from 2007 to 2010 is better, but still there are a lot of challenges."

Davinci Migrator for SharePoint 2010 includes real-time collection of critical configuration data, which allows for discovery and planning for migrations where there are known risk issues, according to the company. It also includes detailed analysis reporting and has a rules engine as well as a core migration engine designed for consolidating the various platforms. It will be available this quarter.

Axceler also released a new version of its ControlPoint administration and configuration management tool, certified for the new SharePoint 2010 release.

Also at Tech•Ed, Quest Software launched Server Administrator for SharePoint, which allows admins to view server configurations and settings of both SharePoint Server 2007 and SharePoint 2010 systems. The tool is designed to let administrators optimize performance and determine risks associated with configurations. It also has reporting capabilities that help determine if a SharePoint Server 2007 configuration is suited for migration to SharePoint 2010.

The software, which is available now, is priced at $1,495 per server. Its release comes just weeks after Quest released Site Administrator for SharePoint, which helps ensure availability, security and compliance. With the product, administrators can set policies and permissions and generate consolidated reports of log data for compliance purposes.

Gold Certified Partner Metalogix Software, another key provider of SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange Server administration software, released Metalogix Migration Manager for Blogs and Wikis. Migration Manager for Blogs and Wikis is designed to migrate content from blog sites (such as Google Blogger, WordPress, Telligent, Confluence and Wikimedia, or any other blog that supports the MetaWebLogAPI standard) to Office SharePoint 2007/2010 file types. It's priced at $2 per page migrated.

Metalogix Software, which only connects to SharePoint through supported Microsoft APIs, also released SharePoint Site Migration Manager (SSMM) 2010. The tool, which starts at $6,995 per administrator, uses Windows PowerShell scripting to transition systems and content from SharePoint 2003/2007 to the new release. The company says SSMM is suited for all migrations, from routine to very complex.

AvePoint, a Gold Certified Partner, released DocAve Software Platform version 5.5, a suite of administration, storage optimization, reporting and testing, real-time replication and integration, data protection, compliance and migration tools.

Another Gold Certified Partner, Tzunami, released an upgraded version of its Tzunami Deployer for SharePoint, a migration tool designed to move content from a variety of enterprise content management systems to SharePoint 2010. The GUI of Tzunami Deployer supports drag-and-drop editing, and offers automated migration procedures.

Besides tools to ease migrations and administration of SharePoint, the release of 2010 will also spawn new offerings to bolster its capabilities. BA-Insight, for example, launched Longitude V4 for Microsoft SharePoint and FAST Search 2010 at last month's Tech•Ed.

Logitude V4 is targeted at research analysts, sales management and other knowledge workers that need to find and use data that's in multiple formats and locations. BA-Insight added a Silverlight Viewer and connectors to 30 different line-of-business systems.

The frenzied activity in acquisitions and product releases surrounding SharePoint migration and deployment is just one more indicator of the buzz that's been building in the months leading up to the 2010 release. Partners looking to get in on the SharePoint 2010 action will find plenty of tools to help get that practice running.