The Hidden Price of “Lift and Shift” Migrations

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Two questions I get frequently from customers are, “how much will my Office 365 or SharePoint migration project cost?” and before I can even answer they will ask, “and how can I do it for less than that?”

I get it. We are all trying to derive maximum value from our IT projects, and no one has an unlimited budget. In this context, a simple lift and shift migration can have a certain simplistic appeal. Why not just bring everything?

  • No need to have potentially challenging conversations with different business units about their data, their unique workflows or even heavily customized SharePoint sites
  • No need to determine if the information management, governance and security policies that have been put in place are actually being followed
  • No need for a discovery process that could potentially complicate your project timeline

But fair warning. The Siren song of lift and shift, like the creatures of Greek mythology, will capsize your project and drown you in unnecessary and unseen costs.

Here is why lift and shift is absolutely the wrong approach for your SharePoint or Office 365 migration.

Without a Discovery Process; You Miss the Migration Tripwires

According to Gartner, through 2019, more than 50 percent of data migration projects will exceed budget and/or result in some form of business disruption due to flawed execution. That right there is the unacceptably high cost of lift and shift migrations.

More often than not, flawed execution on a migration project can be traced directly back to a rushed or non-existent discovery process. For example, let’s say one of your business units is leveraging a complex SharePoint designer workflows connected to InfoPath forms.

Right now, there is no migration tool on the market that can migrate heavy customizations like that. A lift and shift approach may get the data to Office 365, but the team that relied on this customization now faces a potentially large business disruption.

A discovery process can identify these customizations or data that is incompatible to migrate to Office 365 allowing you to optimize your migration plan and work with your project stakeholders to determine solutions rather than scrambling to put out fires created by a lift and shift.

Paying For What You Don’t Need…Three Times Over

Migration Costs

Organizations that consider a lift and shift approach know they are considering paying to move data they don’t really need. Typically, the thought is that the speed and simplicity from moving everything will outweigh any costs associated with the discovery process.

Security Keyboard Hero

That’s a big assumption considering the average enterprise manages 347.56 TB of data, yet only 28% of that data today represents any value to the day-to-day business (IDC, Forbes).

Management Costs

But what about the cost of managing and backing up useless or dark data? It’s not a frivolous budget line item. IDC estimates the average cost of data management data is 3.5% of annual revenue.

That’s an ongoing, annual cost that can be avoided. A file analysis and discovery process can potentially reduce the costs organizations with ten terabytes or more spend on data management by up to a third.

Not to mention your end users will be more satisfied and productive if they don’t have to navigate through the clutter.

Security Costs

Finally, if you haven’t taken the time to scan, identify, tag and map your sensitive data you are opening yourself to a higher risk of data breach.

Again, this has a very real cost. An IBM/Ponemon Institute survey found the average cost for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information was $141 in 2017. If the data breach falls under the new GDPR regulation, it could cost up to 4 percent of the company’s revenue.

Don’t Lift and Shift Your Way to Office 365

Going through a discovery process before migration will ultimately save time and money, reduce the attack threat surface, and ensure your new system is secure, efficient and in compliance.

To learn more on how to best discover it, check out this ESPC recording of a presentation I did on Accelerate SharePoint Success: How to Best Plan, Manage and Control Migration Projects.

If you are interested in some of the hidden gems in Office 365 check out my latest Petri podcast, the “Enterprise Dish” with Brad Sams. We have a blast discussing technology, challenges and news in the enterprise tech world. We will be publishing a podcast regularly, so be sure to subscribe!


Dux Raymond Sy is the CMO of AvePoint and a Microsoft MVP and Regional Director.