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Planning a SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2007 migration

Instructor and author James Pyles outlines a step-by-step approach for developing a SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2007 migration plan, including testing the migration and migrating database services.

The first part of your plan involves knowing what you're working with. In the case of SharePoint Portal Server 2003, there are only two options, so it's pretty simple:

  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 with Standard Edition Client Access Licenses (CALs)
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 with Enterprise Edition Client Access Licenses (CALs)
About the book:
This chapter excerpt on upgrading and deploying Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (download PDF) is taken from the book MCTS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Configuration Study Guide: Exam 70-630. The book covers topics that solutions providers are expected to know, including configuring content management and managing business intelligence.  

Our working MOSS 2007 deployment for this book has been the Enterprise Edition, but if you'll recall when you first went through the installation process, you had the option to install either the Standard Edition or the Enterprise Edition. The upgrade options are the same.

NOTE: If you are running Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 2.0, you can migrate to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. There is an option to migrate from WSS 2.0 to MOSS 2007; however, it's an advanced option that must use stsadm site transfers.

Determining the migration readiness of SharePoint Portal Server 2003

Before you can do anything, you need to determine whether your current SharePoint 2003 site structure is prepared for the migration. Most likely, the site structure won't be ready by chance, and you'll need to perform tasks during the assessment process in order to make sure the migration goes smoothly. You must investigate several areas to ensure that your 2003 sites migrate correctly to SharePoint 2007.

The first major hurdle is to determine whether any portion of your site collection has been modified or customized in any way. The most common utility used to customize SharePoint 2003 is FrontPage 2003. Any site or portion of a site that has been so modified will not be "understood" by the SharePoint 2007 migration tool and will retain any "look-and-feel" elements that were created by FrontPage. The good news is that after the migration, you can return each modified site to the look and feel you'd expect in SharePoint 2007. The bad news is twofold: first, you must do so on a site-by-site basis so it will be time-consuming, and second, in returning the look and feel as described, you will likely overwrite any of the modifications that FrontPage originally performed.

About the author:
James Pyles is an experienced instructor and is currently a technical writer for EmergeCore Networks. He has participated in numerous installations of hardware, operating systems and wireless LANs and has authored many training materials and books, including PC Technicians Street Smarts: A Real World Guide to CompTIA A+ Skills.

This issue doesn't exist just at the site level. Any customized web parts you added in 2003 will also not be able to migrate correctly to 2007 for the same reason. Because creating customized web parts is a fairly common practice, you will likely have to face this issue; in fact, you'll likely discover that some of the "off-the-shelf" web parts that came with 2003 will also suffer migration problems. There's no workaround here. After the migration is done, you'll need to test every web part in your site collection to see whether it retained its functionality.

You will also need to check any other customizations that were performed in 2003 such as themes, customized branding, any added extensions, and other programmatic tweaks. It is likely that these will have been overwritten during the migration process and will not function correctly.

As you can see, migration is not without its risks. Although the process will certainly have better results if you are migrating a completely "out-of-the-box" version of SharePoint 2003 to 2007, even then the results aren't guaranteed. For that reason, it would be better to test the migration process first in a lab scenario before applying it to your production environment.

Testing the migration in the lab

You, the reader, are ideally positioned to understand this portion of the chapter because you have been working in and have become familiar with a SharePoint lab environment. By now, you should be well acquainted with creating, testing, breaking, and fixing various scenarios in SharePoint. Creating a lab environment for migration testing is just a bit different, though.

In essence, you will need to create a small, mirror image of your production SharePoint 2003 environment. Although it doesn't have to contain the scope of your corporate SharePoint platform, it must contain all the individual elements that you want to survive the migration process. This means that if you have customized some of your websites using FrontPage, you'll need to duplicate those customizations on sites in the test model. The same goes for customized web parts, themes, and so on. In fact, given that even "standard" web parts are prone to breaking during migration, your test platform should contain examples of every web part in your production platform.

In addition to creating your test SharePoint 2003 environment and migrating it to 2007, you must also make it available to a team of subject-matter experts who will represent the end users. Although it wouldn't be very productive to have all the company employees both doing their actual work in the production environment and duplicating their actions on the test platform, you can select representatives to simulate all the typical tasks end users are expected to perform and see how the test environment responds. This is better than just performing the testing yourself since you can't hope to know every detail of every task that people in the company perform in SharePoint on a daily basis. If you're lucky, you'll work in an environment that has a Quality Assurance or other testing department that is trained for such a function.

In preparation for the migration, and particularly once you've created your test environment and subject testing has begun, it is critical that you do not perform any modifications on the production SharePoint platform. SharePoint 2003 must become completely static as far as any changes in design and functionality are concerned, and the test environment must mirror that static state so that you know the data resulting from the testing will truly represent what you can expect when you perform the actual migration on the production SharePoint environment.

Migrating database services

I'm tempted to say "there aren't any issues with migrating database services" and just move on, but since SharePoint 2003 and 2007 must access database services pre- and post-migration, you need to know (and are perhaps relieved) that you aren't required to migrate your Microsoft SQL Server database just because you are migrating SharePoint. SharePoint 2007 supports database services provided by Microsoft SQL Server 2000 SP3a or newer, so you can continue to use whatever version of SQL Server under 2007 that you were using with 2003 as long as it meets this requirement.

Of course, ambitious database server administrators might see this as an opportunity to upgrade their hardware and/or software platform, but ideally the CIO or CTO will make those decisions based on financial and administrative costs as well as overall impact on productivity. Migrating SharePoint and SQL Server at the same time might result in a longer service downtime, and performing a migration of two critical systems at the same time increases the opportunity for something to go wrong.

Planning a SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2007 migration
  SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2007 pre-migration tasks
  Determining a SharePoint Server 2007 upgrade migration plan
  Download the rest of this chapter excerpt

Printed with permission from Wiley Publishing Inc. Copyright 2008. MCTS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Configuration Study Guide: Exam 70-630 by James Pyles. For more information about this title and other similar books, please visit

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