Wondering if you should upgrade to SharePoint 2013? Join the crowd. A fair bit has already been written about the many improved features and capabilities of this much-anticipated release.
If you’ve missed them, our new SharePoint hosting 2013 site offers a great overview.
But with these improvements also comes the single most common question that accompanies any new release: Is it worth upgrading, and if so, when?
If you’ve just recently upgraded to SharePoint 2010, are the improvements in 2013 good enough to warrant back-to-back upgrades? And if you’re still running SharePoint 2007, is 2013 worth making the intermediate upgrade to SharePoint 2010 now?
We’ve been getting these questions a lot lately. Not only from our existing Hosted SharePoint 2007 and 2010 customers, but from many IT pros contemplating shifting more of their organization’s IT needs to the cloud as part of their overall strategy.
We recently sat down with Philippe Pepin, one of our in-house SharePoint admins to get his take. Here’s what he had to say.
Philippe, what are the strongest drawing points of SharePoint 2013?
PP: There were three main pillars that drove Microsoft’s development of SharePoint 2013: social, mobile and cloud. My favorite is definitely the cloud functionalities.
What does this mean for customers deploying a hosted SharePoint solution?
PP: With earlier versions of SharePoint, organizations that wanted to benefit from the advantages of a cloud deployment—whether reduced costs, improved performance, better scalability, etc.—had to make certain compromises on their “in-house” flexibility. Because key SharePoint configurations were located at the farm level (admin level), hosted customers had to go along with the hosting provider’s general configuration and had few features available at the site collection administration (client admin level). The 2013 edition of SharePoint is more cloud friendly in the sense that many of these features are now transferred to the site collection admin (client). That’s something most hosted customers will appreciate.
Can you give us an example of a specific feature with enhanced customization?
PP: The search function is one. Not only is it more powerful in SharePoint Foundation 2013, but most of its configurations can now be done by the client. For example, clients can create custom columns in a list they create in SharePoint and index it to be visible in a search. They can even configure their search results page to prioritize these columns so that they appear in custom presentation and priority ranking.
What about the other two pillars you mentioned, mobile and social? Do they warrant upgrading to SharePoint 2013?
PP: Definitely for mobile. The mobile experience ranks as the second biggest reason to switch, in my opinion. Our businesses habits are changing as fast as our personal habits, and I think Microsoft has really captured this trend and made some great strides in this area.
What about Social?
PP: Yes… but with a caveat. Again, SharePoint 2013 offers a greatly improved social experience. But it’s important to keep in mind that the Foundation 2013 release is very limited in social features. If it’s a cultural change you’re looking to implement in your organization, I strongly suggest you look at the Standard version of SharePoint.
Any areas where SharePoint 2013 disappoints?
PP: For some customers, the platform’s fast evolution might be a problem. Although all the features in 2013 are great, it can be hard for some clients to keep up with such a fast release time. Every three years might be too often. Lots of customers are still with SharePoint 2007 and Office 2007. If you want the full featured capabilities of SharePoint 2013, I strongly suggest you have Office 2010 or 2013. For example, the 2007 version of Office will not be able to support co-authoring and content management features for example.
Any advice for readers gearing up for a migration to 2013?
PP: Migration is a good opportunity to do some spring cleaning on your site and reorganize information, such as moving older documents to a new sub-site dedicated to archiving. When creating new sites, it’s best to avoid using special templates unless absolutely necessary to avoid compatibility issues when performing upgrades.
If the thought of migrating is causing you migraines, take a look at our SharePoint migration service. Our experienced team really does make migrating easier.
Have you upgraded to SharePoint 2013? What advice do you have for others still weighing the pros and cons?