Forsythe, one of the largest, independent IT integrators in North America, wanted their field consultants to have more flexible access to SharePoint, the company’s knowledge management system. The company was using on-premises SharePoint 2010 to collaborate across business units and share data on various projects and was considering upgrading to Office 365/SharePoint 2013.
Forsythe engaged SPR Consulting to conduct an ROI case and a feature gap analysis to justify the upgrade. The business case addressed the company’s concerns about security, total cost of ownership, and the perceived loss of features associated with Office 365. SPR and the Forsythe project team worked together to provide documentation on Microsoft’s Service Level Agreements and security policies, used a Microsoft ROI tool to evaluate cost, and mapped the current state features to SharePoint online functionality or custom solutions.
The result of the analysis? A hands-down decision to migrate to the cloud.
SPR Migrates to the Cloud using Custom Adaptations in the App Model
To ensure that Forsythe wouldn’t lose important SharePoint features and the migration would cause minimal disruption to production service, SPR used the app model, a new method of developing customizations for SharePoint that helps stabilize complex farms, hybrid scenarios, and cloud implementations of SharePoint with a large array of custom code by separating the business logic from the inner workings of SharePoint itself. Because much of the on-premises implementation could not be translated directly into the app model such as features, site templates, list templates, and event driven configurations, SPR architected cloud-ready adaptations to these solutions for SharePoint Online in Office 365.
SPR implemented the client-side object model (CSOM) for common server functionality, replicated all the important functionality incorporated through solution packages and features into the cloud, and deployed the cloud-ready adaptations to a dedicated app server. This model removed any dependency on the SharePoint farm’s servers to host and run server side code and store custom artifacts. The custom app was isolated and facilitated upgrade with much less risk.
A Group Effort Increases Institutional Knowledge
The migration project was staffed by a blend of resources from Forsythe and SPR, the client’s resources leaning on SPR to map the features between systems. The blended team worked through code while SPR documented how things were completed and how to properly code the update. Eventually, SPR Consulting transitioned the project—slowly giving the Forsythe developers more responsibility and coding time. Forsythe gained the administrative and configuration skills needed plus an understanding of how SharePoint works so they could ultimately complete the tasks on their own.
Testing Delivers Solid Results
SPR’s SharePoint prototyping and testing was multifaceted. SPR used test environments in both on-premise and Office 365 environments and tested various business use cases such as migrating data to Office 365 using a third party tool, replicating content types, and building and testing site and list templates using the app model.
Because of the migration to Office 365, Forsythe’s field consultants benefit from easier access to the company’s document repository, improving corporate collaboration. In addition, the IT department no longer has to manage on premises infrastructure. Their SharePoint environment has improved security at no additional cost. Because custom adaptations were developed using the app model, SPR helped to future proof Forsythe’s investment in SharePoint.