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Do Not Pass Go, Skip Straight to SharePoint 2013

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SharePoint 2013 raises the bar for collaboration and knowledge sharing within your organization. Since SharePoint Conference 2012, the buzz surrounding the release has reached a fever pitch and many are now looking to the new version as the next step in the evolution of their content management strategy.

In fact, our SharePoint Content Survey revealed that nearly 60% of organizations would like to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 by the end of the year.

The reasons for this are far-ranging and vary by organizations, including the new, cleaner user interface designed to encourage better adoption within an organisation. The new version also provides enhanced mobile device support—a feature that topped the list for driving interest in our SharePoint survey—and new social features that will spur more instant collaboration on content.

There is the desire for organizations to be on the latest and greatest, and the early reviews of SharePoint 2013 have shown that the new version is worth the move. It will come as no surprise if we see a wave of organizations taking the leap to SharePoint 2013, especially those with multiple SharePoint farms that want to consolidate on the same version moving forward.

There is one issue, however, that has bubbled up already as a roadblock to SharePoint 2013. As revealed in our survey, 40% of organizations are still running at least one SharePoint 2003 or 2007 environment.

This leads to a quandary for these SharePoint professionals—how do I successfully upgrade from an older version to SharePoint 2013?

It's a daunting question that initially appears to have no good answer.

The increasing business critical nature of content in SharePoint, lack of suitable out of the box options and an ever-increasingly demanding workforce means that many IT departments are now stuck between a rock and a hard place.

For organizations still running SharePoint 2003 or 2007, it has been suggested that they did not upgrade to SharePoint 2010 because the out-of-the-box upgrade was too unreliable and time consuming and lacked the necessary capabilities to facilitate a complete upgrade. The release of SharePoint 2013 again brings these issues to the forefront as they investigate a possible migration.

If you scour the Internet with your search engine of choice, you'll see Microsoft's official position on an upgrade. Namely, there is no way to upgrade directly from SharePoint 2003 or 2007 to SharePoint 2013. First, you must upgrade to the next adjacent version, such as from SharePoint 2007 to 2010. Only then can you upgrade to 2013.

Microsoft defines an upgrade as the complete A to B transfer of the SharePoint Databases from one version of SharePoint to the next. The databases are then physically changed (or "upgraded") to the new version's schema and attributes. This means that, using the Microsoft definition, you cannot upgrade SharePoint directly from 2007 to 2013. You have to do the intermediate hop to 2010. The gap between anything other than successive versions is too wide for a Microsoft upgrade to cope with.

Therefore by the Microsoft rule book, you cannot upgrade from SharePoint 2003 or 2007 to SharePoint 2013. You can, however, migrate directly from SharePoint 2003 or 2007 to SharePoint 2013.

Notice the difference? You can migrate but you can't upgrade. Sounds like semantics but there is an important difference.

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