Migration to M365/O365: A Decision Tree | HCLTech

Migration to M365/O365: A Decision Tree
July 28, 2021

Cloud adoption, consolidation, and separation has been accelerated (due to COVID-19 pandemic) in global enterprises, but the scale, volume and complexity of migrations still pose significant challenges. According to Garner’s 2020 Digital Workplace Survey, 89% of organizations have adapted smoothly to working anywhere, anytime (including at home) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (or had already adapted prior to the pandemic), compared to 11% that struggled.

89% of organizations have adapted smoothly to working anywhere, anytime (including at home) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enterprises have hastened their cloud deployment plans with a desire to equip their office-based workers, who turned into remote workers overnight, with technologies to support agile work. Thus they intend to undergo cloud migration, whether from on-premises to cloud, or from one cloud platform to another.

When it comes to legacy application migration decision, the success of the application modernization depends on maximizing productivity and security, while maintaining compliance - anything less undermines the ROI.

Some of the common migration challenges include:

  • Inability to map the correct tools and features for target state of application
  • Target solution is more expensive than the current state of operation cost
  • No proper visualization of changes
  • Lack of documentation of current application
  • Inadequate planning on change management

There are different types of application migration or modernization where the right decision is important to make the future state stable and ensure end-user adoption. This blog will focus on Microsoft’s Collaboration and Office Platform – M365, especially on the approaches to migrate out of legacy SharePoint into the M365 Cloud.

Migration Types

  • SharePoint on-premise to SharePoint online or Power Platform
    • Older version of SharePoint applications includes SharePoint 2010/2013. They are mostly designed or programmed based on server centric features that becomes a bottleneck for most organization due to heavy maintenance cost of these applications.
    • Organizations are trying to upgrade or modernize their applications with the help of SaaS or PaaS based cloud architecture or features, to improve the application performance and reduce the operational cost.
  • Lotus Notes to SharePoint Online/Power Platform
    • Legacy Lotus Notes applications are outdated, and most organizations are trying to migrate or modernize their existing business application from Lotus Notes to suitable alternative like SharePoint Online with or without Microsoft Power Platform features.
  • File Share to SharePoint Online
    • Many organizations are trying to migrate their unmanaged user data from local or shared network drive to cloud-based environment for better data security. Also to improve governance on user’s data to improve manageability and reduce the total cost of ownership of the data.

Migration Decision Tree

Modernization of legacy SharePoint on-premise applications to modern cloud-based platform with intuitive features is very challenging in today’s migration program.

A migration decision tree is a very specific type of probability tree that enables us to decide about the process to choose the right tool and technology while modernizing the legacy application to modern platform

SharePoint on-premises to SharePoint online or Power Platform

Modern businesses run on data consolidation. Users interact with data daily from entering their time for payroll, seeking guidance on existing processes, and analyzing  data to make decisions.

The features of Microsoft SharePoint Online and Power Platforms are more user friendly, easy to develop, and maintain. Organizations across the globe are looking for migration of their existing business functionality from SharePoint on-premises to SharePoint Online.

The decision of right mapping of SharePoint Online features would enable their migration program to be successful.

There are different factors including application’s business criticality, data sensitivity, and usage types which would influence the migration decision, as depicted through the images below.


Figure 1: Decision based distribution of customization

Based on the data sensitivity/security, applications will be migrated either into SharePoint Online or Azure.

Applications with different types of customization will help us choose the different implementation strategies. E.g. SPO – Out-of-the box features will be used for all non-custom components and custom components will be further categorized based on different levels of complexity and integration types.

Depending on this, they will be migrated/mapped with different target solutions, accordingly, as described in Figure 1.

The possible mapping between the source SharePoint on-premise features with the future SharePoint online/power platform features is illustrated in the diagram below.


Figure 2: Possible mapping of source and target features

This is an indicative mapping as described in Figure 2 and proper analysis is needed to confirm. For example, while webpart/InfoPath form may be good targets in Power Platform, in very complex and custom cases an Azure web app might be built as a new custom app.

Or a responsive UI with react for forms where customer desires optimum UI and UX. Likewise Azure Synapse analytics will be a candidate for big/complex reporting and analytics in case the customer wants to scale up as part of migration.

Lotus Notes to SharePoint online or Power Platform

Organizations across the globe are looking for modernization of their legacy Lotus Notes applications to modern cloud collaboration platform for better employee satisfaction.

Microsoft M365 (SaaS) – SharePoint online / Power Platform is a good choice for these types of applications to migrate, and correct mapping of SharePoint online features enables their migration program to be successful.


Figure 3: Possible mapping of source and target features

Based on the source component’s type e.g. Form, View, Workflow, and Scheduled Job etc. along with different complexity level, we choose the different implementation strategies.

For example, SPO – Out-of-the-box features are used for simple legacy components like form and view, power platform features (Power App / Power Automate)/ SPFx /web jobs are used for medium to complex /very complex category of form/view/workflow/scheduled job, etc.

The above mapping as described in Figure 3, is indicative and proper analysis of source application is needed to confirm the approach.

File Share to SharePoint online

Many organizations across the globe are looking for better management of their user’s data that includes:

  • Data consolidation into a central repository.
  • Categorization based on content type, volume, and retention period.
  • Implementation of appropriate governance.

The diagram below depicts possible scenarios for user data migration.


Figure 4: Shared Content Categorization and Migration

This, as described in Figure 4, is an indicative view for the File Share content migration decision mapping approach. A proper analysis is needed to firm up the solution for potential customers.

Based on the organization policies and any legally sensitive/protected information that requires unique permissions, the target location of user’s content and content retention period will be defined.

Key drivers of application migration decision

  • Microsoft stopped mainstream support for SharePoint 2010 (SP 2010) in 2015 and the final date for extended support is April 13, 2021. After then, no more updates and no more security patches will be available
  • SharePoint server 2013 service pack 1 will reach product lifecycle end by end of Q1 2023
  • Consolidation of servers and user’s data are needed
  • Limited collaboration features available in legacy Lotus Notes applications and additional license cost
  • Enhance the application performance with Cloud provider’s inherent performance guarantees and related SLA’s
  • Improve user engagement and productivity with modern UI and UX and incorporating mobile experience
  • Improve user data management and data security
  • Reduce operational cost with reduced infrastructure and IT support

Benefits of migration decision tree

  • Business alignment with modern workplace tools and features
  • IT cost reduction through decommissioning of SharePoint Servers and better governance
  • Increased self-life of the platform
  • Opportunity for modernization of business application
  • Improved user’s data management and data security


HCLTech’s Digital Business Microsoft team collaborates with our enterprise customers in easing this journey for cloud enablement and adoption.  

We are able to successfully optimize our customers’ migration programs based on our insight and experience.

Get HCLTech Insights and Updates delivered to your inbox