Challenges in Migrating from SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2013

Migrating from SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2013 is a challenging task as 2003 is an antiquated system compared to the new and vastly capable SharePoint 2013. Apart from having to adapt to the huge difference in technology, a lot of effort will also be required in cleansing the redundancy in the 2003 database. Besides this, you are required to have knowledge of various templates used in both these systems.

Here is a list of some of the challenges that you may run into during your migration attempts.

1. Overcoming the problem of lack of direct SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2013 migration options
There is no direct method to upgrade from SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2013. Hence it’s difficult to migrate SharePoint 2003 contents to SharePoint 2013. You are required to upgrade SharePoint 2003 servers to SharePoint 2007 or to SharePoint 2010, from where it becomes easier to migrate the content to SharePoint 2013. Moreover you may have to rely on third party tools in the absence of a direct migration option.
2. The necessity to match SharePoint services prior to migration
Migrating Services Farms to SharePoint 2013 can be a difficult task as you have to match the services which may differ between 2003 and 2013. You must have complete knowledge of various individual services and servers configured in either of the Farms to be able to correctly match their assets during migration.
3. The challenge of matching missing server side files
Due to the huge technology gap between SharePoint 2003 and SharePoint 2013, several server side files along with customization in 2003 may not be present or the same in 2013. Hence Sites made using specific templates in SharePoint 2003 may simply not work in 2013. You then have to manually set up all Site Content in a new Site created using the new templates present in 2013.
4. The challenge of managing server downtime during migration
SharePoint content can only be migrated when it’s not in use. This requires the serve to be down during the migration. If the volume of data to be migrated is huge then it has to be divided into batches which are then incrementally migrated at intervals. Hence if a large mass is being migrated, it would mean the Sites are read-only for a long time. Alternatively if migration is done in batches, it would mean repeated offline of servers which can build up frustrations, affect performance and business critical operations.
5. Planning strategies to adopt in case of failures
You also have to keep ready strategies you will adopt to overcome the loss of metadata or contents due to a failed or improper mapping between the versions. And for a reliable migration, its best to move documents at the root Document Library to another Library where it can be migrated without risk. This will also reduce the time required for migration.
6. The challenge of properly mapping contents and metadata in 2003 with relevant objects in SharePoint 2013
It’s necessary to correctly map the existing permissions, customization and configurations in SharePoint 2003 and legacy content repositories to the required permissions, customization and configurations in 2013. If there is an error then the associated assets and metadata will be lost during migration.
7. Switching from a 32 bit SharePoint to 64 bit SharePoint
SharePoint 2003 was built for and worked in a 32 bit environment. Though the content may work in the new 64 bit environment due to backward compatibility, working with some of the SharePoint features that may not have been conceptualized for the 64 bit environment, may require tweaking and can pose challenges to the new administrators and content owners.

Overcoming these challenges will take time, planning and a great deal of effort. But third party tools can help you out of this situation by providing customized solutions to your migration needs.