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SharePoint 2013 End of Life Part 4: What Can I Do to Prepare?

Posted by: Stephen Wilson on March 1, 2023

OK, this is the 4th installment of this blog series, and I have to admit that I have sort of tricked you. At one level or another, all of these articles have tried to introduce you to some of the steps to take as part of your upgrade. 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Final Preparation

  1. In this case, because you REALLY need to upgrade, and soon. 
  2. You have to understand, there may be no “easy” option. You will have to look at what is important and make some decisions about what you want after this migration is complete. 
  3. You have to look at what you are migrating to and begin to prepare for what it gives you instead of fretting about all the changes it represents. There are always going to be differences about new things. If the new means too much of what you loved is gone from the platform you are leaving, you either choose a platform that lets you keep more of what you love, or you have to accept what the new platform brings and adapt. 

There is a reason you don’t just buy copies of the clothes you wore during kindergarten in bigger sizes your whole life. Microsoft SharePoint started in the early 2000’s almost as an add-on for Exchange. It was just a tool to allow “workgroups” to manage documents together. Today it has around 200 million users and is still growing and changing as one of the most popular collaboration platforms in the world.  

SharePoint does a number of things, and some of them have changed a little over the years. To start, there are a few things you can use as rules of thumb. 

Most of your document and list content will move without serious issues. The core of your information can be moved with many of the tools we discussed previously. 

Publishing pages and Wikis have been changed in more recent versions of SharePoint and may require additional effort to reformat into other page types. The Microsoft SharePoint migration tool, for example, typically skips the “Pages” library contents altogether. If you have a lot of content invested in Publishing pages, additional research into a migration tool that has more options for those pages may be needed. The PnP PowerShell framework also offers some assistance. 

Subsites have been heavily de-emphasized, so prepare to consider each site as an independent site. This includes planning to migrate each of your current subsites into standalone sites or, in a few cases, maybe consolidate them into one site. Don’t panic-- a feature known as hub sites allows you to “group” sites together in ways that can simulate some of the features of the site to subsite relationship. If you ever realized you should have created a subsite under a different primary site, you will appreciate how easily a site can be assigned to a different hub. 

If you have a highly customized environment either developed in-house, using outside contractors, or commercial packages from well-known vendors like Bamboo Solutions or Amrein Engineering, be prepared to replace them. Very often, customizations built for SharePoint 2013 or earlier will not be compatible with more recent versions of SharePoint on-premises or in the cloud. Always check commercially purchased customizations to make sure there is a newer version that is supported, because simply installing the old version in a new on-premises farm doesn’t guarantee it will work. In SharePoint Online, you can’t deploy the same WSP solutions at all. 

SharePoint Designer 2013 (the latest and last version of SharePoint Designer) ended mainstream support on 7/13/2021.  Extended support is available until 7/14/2026. Custom forms, 2010 and 2013 workflows are no longer under mainstream support. 2010 and 2013 workflows are no longer supported in SharePoint Online, and SharePoint designer custom forms will only work in classic sites (and likely won’t work well in them). The Microsoft SharePoint migration tool recently listed support for being able to “migrate” 2010 and 2013 workflows to the Power Automate platform, though I personally haven’t had a chance to test it. I am 100% sure there will be some things that will not be able to migrate smoothly. Hopefully it will at least give you a boost on moving your workflows to a more modern platform.  

Why am I listing these things that will make this process difficult? Because these are the things you must prepare for. Sub-sites, classic SharePoint sites, custom forms, SharePoint Designer workflows, these still work and are supportable in some versions of SharePoint today. But the writing is on the wall, and even if you don’t need to address them by March, you do need to address them uncomfortably soon. 2026 will mean the end of the line for several of these technologies. Subsites have no official end date, but they have not been recommended for some time and new tenants have them disabled by default in SharePoint Online. When SharePoint 2013 came out, SharePoint, like many platforms, was something that was patched and updated in slow releases. The occasional minor new feature may have been sneaked in. Big changes were uncommon and likely to appear only when the next version of SharePoint was released in 2016. Today, the pace of change has advanced. Many parts of Microsoft 365 use SharePoint features or tie-in to enhance it, and things like Teams and Viva in particular are in rapid development. 

Technology in business rarely sits still these days, and by 2026, I imagine A.I. will have firmly moved into our email and document processes. Eliminating any of the legacy pieces that we know will be exiting the scene soon can make it easier to follow the current arc of how Microsoft is developing its toolbox. Matching that trajectory will best prepare you for the developments as they come and will put you in the best place to take advantage of all they will be offering. 

As always, we at Pait Group are here to assist. We want to help you position your organization to take advantage of the tools in the Microsoft catalog to make your mission a success. Questions and comments are welcome! 

Ready to begin your migration planning? Pait Group would love to help you!

Topics: SharePoint 2013, Migration, Modern SharePoint, Planning

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