Note: This is NOT Official Microsoft word but my observations based on what I have seen in SharePoint Online 2010, SharePoint Online 2013 Preview, and SharePoint 2013 On-Premises Preview bits.
As Microsoft have RTMed SharePoint 2013 couple days ago and stated that they will be rolling out new Office 2013 features to the Office 365, many companies would ask same question – How does Office 365 and SharePoint Online upgrade will work? Will Microsoft automatically upgrade our SharePoint Online environment? What if our business is not ready and we don’t want to get upgraded?
My understanding is as Microsoft will roll out new features of SharePoint 2013 to the SharePoint Online, Microsoft will upgrade underlying infrastructure and SharePoint Services to SharePoint 2013 and allow business to upgrade their Site Collections from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 as needed.
I had a great conversation on twitter this morning with Rene Modery and Nigel Price and what I felt, it was obvious based on what I seen, noticed that it may not be obvious to many others.
Of course, we don’t have any official word on how Office 365 and how SharePoint Online 2013 upgrade will work but based on what I have seen and my recent experience with SharePoint Online & SharePoint 2013, I have come to conclusion that MS will upgrade infrastructure and allow business to upgrade their site collections on case by case basis. If you think about, these are best of both worlds – From both IT and business perspective – Not only, as a IT, you don’t have to worry about upgrading your infrastructure from one SharePoint version to another (which could be nightmare if you have engaged in any of SharePoint 2003 to 2007 to 2010 on-premises upgrade) but allow business to upgrade their end-user facing site collections as needed and apply new UI/UX as needed by ensuring proper user adoption and organization change. In fact, this is the best Upgrade Story we may have seen in our SharePoint lifetime.
You may ask – how I came to this conclusion. Obviously, I don’t have any insider news from Microsoft and we are still waiting for official word from Microsoft on how SharePoint Online & Office 365 Upgrade will work. Here are the 3 major things I have seen where this intelligent guess or speculation came from.
1) Upgrade Story for SharePoint Online Clients – If you are SharePoint Online customer, your business may not be ready for upgrade as Microsoft pushes out the Office 2013 updates to the SharePoint Online & Office 365. With the model like Office 365, Microsoft knows they can upgrade infrastructure and allow customers to run their site collections with SharePoint Online 2010 experience until business is ready to upgrade their site collections to the SharePoint 2013 Online.
2) Better story of SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2010 Site Experience Co-Existence and Better story of SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 Upgrade Path – I have just blogged this morning on how SP2010 and SP2013 co-existence would work in SharePoint 2013 here. If you have SharePoint 2013 Preview VM, there are two different places you can see that SharePoint 2013 can run both SP2010 Experience and SP2013 Experience side by side. There are both 14 and 15 folders on the file system and you have even choice of creating both SP2010 and SP2013 site collections experience in SharePoint 2013.
3) SharePoint 2013 Online Preview has Upgrade button for each Site Collections – If you visit SharePoint 2013 online site collection page, you have new option “Upgrade” in the ribbon bar. For the new site collections created with SP2013 experience, this upgrade button provides link to the site collection upgrade page. Since current preview has only SharePoint 2013 site collections, clicking preview link will take users to Site Collection upgrade page with the confirmation and detailed status page stating that this site collection has never been upgraded.
If you have SharePoint 2010 online site, upgrade link will take you to the Site Collection Upgrade page where you can manually upgrade site collection. Note – This screen is taken from the SP2013 Preview On-Premises, SharePoint 2010 site but I believe it would work same in SharePoint 2013 online.
By default in Office 2013 preview, you can create only 2013 site collection experience. Under settings page, there is an option to allow either only SP2013 experience or both SP2013 & SP2010 experiences or only SP2010 version of site collections. Although this option can’t be changed in current preview, it suggests that SharePoint Online will support both SP2010 and SP2013 experiences side by side and it means, once Microsoft upgrades underlying infrastructure, tenants will have option to upgrade to SP2013 experience as needed.
Hope this is how it will work!! This is really exciting and worries free upgrade times!!!