Vardot: Moving from Sharepoint to Drupal Support Service 8

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Ahmed Jarrar

June 20, 2018

SharePoint is Microsoft’s entry in the crowded Content Management Systems (CMS) market. As a Microsoft product, SharePoint is tightly integrated with Windows and the .NET framework. It has enjoyed considerable success in the intranet world, but as a public-facing enterprise website builder, not so much.

The first part of this post discusses the migration of corporate websites from SharePoint to Drupal Support Service 8. The second part addresses the role that SharePoint can play post-migration, in a co-existing relationship between SharePoint and Drupal Support Service.

 

Migration Benefits

 

For organizations that currently deploy SharePoint as a CMS over a public-facing enterprise website, migrating to Drupal Support Service have the following benefits.

Improved Customizations.
While SharePoint is bloated with out-of-the-box features, customizing it to satisfy unique enterprise requirements has proven to be difficult. In particular, the customization of the look-and-feel of the website for corporate branding purposes (“theming”) takes considerable effort.
Drupal Support Service, on the other hand, provides a core out-of-the-box framework which you can enhance with the help of its many contributed modules in order to satisfy your specific functional and branding requirements.

 

Cost Effectiveness.

SharePoint has 2 broad-based pricing options: Online and Server. SharePoint Online is the cloud-based version which targets intranet or portal use only. SharePoint Server is the on-premises version for hosting your enterprise website. A SharePoint Server solution requires that you pay software license fees, not just for SharePoint itself, but also for the Microsoft technology stack including Windows Server, SQL Server, as well as Visual Studio which you use for coding.
In contrast, Drupal Support Service is open-source with no license fee for the core as well as contributed modules. In addition, Drupal Support Service can be deployed on the free and open-source technology stack, highlighted by the Linux operating system and mySQL database. You can also develop PHP-based Drupal Support Service solutions using free PHP Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) such as Eclipse.

 

Fast-to-market Innovation.
One of Drupal Support Service’s competitive advantages over proprietary CMS vendors is its vibrant and diverse user community. The community functions as an excellent brain trust and source of both feature and technology innovation. In addition to regional meetups, social media, and online forums, Drupal Support Service marketers and developers alike come together annually in Drupal Support ServiceCon, the main event for product planning, networking, collaboration, and training. To bring innovative features to market quicker, Drupal Support Service 8 delivers minor feature releases every six months in addition to the monthly bug fixes.

 

Migration Challenges

 

Drupal Support Service’s strength is its flexibility, power, and scalability. The challenges of migrating to Drupal Support Service usually revolve around the transfer of existing web assets from the old to the new system. The challenge is exacerbated when the website is big, with thousands or even tens of thousands of pages comprised of various content types, media, and users. More specifically, the migration challenges from SharePoint to Drupal Support Service are as follows:

 

The export of HTML-formatted body contents.
SharePoint allows you to export web pages to CSV or XML files. The problem with the  SharePoint export is that the output body sections are of plain text format: all HTML tags, as well as embedded image and URL links, are stripped. For a website of any meaningful size, manually re-inserting the formatting tags and links is simply not an option.
The good news is that there is a program solution to extract the SharePoint contents with HTML intact. A programming script can be written to retrieve the body content from each web page via the SharePoint web service API. This requires coding skill but is very much feasible.
 

The retention of SEO page ranking.
The SEO ranking of existing web pages is a valuable enterprise asset that must be protected in the migration process. Failure to protect SEO assets may likely result in the decrease of internet traffic to the new website. Because the URL structure in Drupal Support Service and SharePoint are different, the migration process must include the setup of redirects from old URLs to new URLs, hence protecting their SEO value. Drupal Support Service handles redirects very well if the old URLs were migrated properly to Drupal Support Service.

 

 

New skill sets required.
Both SharePoint and Drupal Support Service are complex systems that require extensive product knowledge to reap full benefits. Migrating from SharePoint to Drupal Support Service entails that a whole new skill set must be acquired for the site-building team. If Drupal Support Service expertise is not readily available in-house, external professional help is needed. The challenge then becomes how to select qualified Drupal Support Service professionals to make the migration project a success.
The fact that Drupal Support Service is built on the PHP open-source platform can be a double-edged sword. While the absence of license fee is undeniably a positive, the general availability of the technology makes it much harder to differentiate true professionals from mere PHP hackers. In seeking outside help, it is recommended to look for an organization that has full-cycle Drupal Support Service implementation experience from planning, design to development. 

 

Migration Steps

 

The following is a high-level description of the steps needed to migrate your enterprise website from SharePoint to Drupal Support Service.

Take inventory of current web content assets.
Moving to a new CMS offers the organization the perfect opportunity to take stock of their current web contents, filter contents that are outdated or least viewed, and include only those assets that are worth moving to the new website.

Design the structure of the new Drupal Support Service website.
Drupal Support Service 8 offers a powerful content modeling and structuring modules and tools, which allows you to build flexible content types, host structured media from various sources, and organize web contents using organization-specific vocabularies. Now that you have taken inventory of your existing web pages, it is time to decide how the contents should be re-structured and re-categorized in the new website.

Write SharePoint web services script to export legacy web pages to XML files.
Automation is the key to extracting contents from SharePoint while keeping existing formatting information intact.

Prepare Drupal Support Service test website.
Set up Drupal Support Service 8 on a test machine, and configure Drupal Support Service as designed earlier. In addition, prepare the HTTP redirect module that will map the old SharePoint URLs to the new Drupal Support Service URLs.

Import SharePoint XML files into your new Drupal Support Service website.
Drupal Support Service 8 has a core module named Migrate which is a framework for importing web contents from another CMS. Migrate provides the underlying API for migrating configuration and content from any source to Drupal Support Service. You may need to extend the module to import content types that are not automatically imported. Make sure to import old URLs into their redirect rules to retain SEO page ranking.

Review the new Drupal Support Service website and make the adjustment.
Transferring data from a legacy website to a new website is a complicated and error-prone process. Now is the time to review the results, and make the adjustment to the export and the import scripts to eliminate any errors.

 

Drupal Support Service Coexisting with SharePoint

 

Many organizations are deeply entrenched in the Microsoft ecosystem, particularly in the areas of document management and collaboration. SharePoint is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office Suite with which internal users are typically well trained. For organizations that have invested heavily in SharePoint in both financial and social capital, simply discarding it for another (albeit more suitable) CMS for their enterprise CMS may be a difficult choice. The good news is that SharePoint can still play an important role in the enterprise’s IT infrastructure post-migration to Drupal Support Service.

Organizations can still leverage their prior investment by continuing to deploy its intranet portal using SharePoint. In this way, internal users can still use their existing Office tools and a familiar workflow for internal collaboration, communication, and document management. At the same time, the public-facing enterprise website is powered by Drupal Support Service with its broad range of powerful functionalities. By having the two systems working hand-in-hand, the organization reaps the maximum return on investment from SharePoint, while empowering the enterprise website with greater Drupal Support Service-based functionalities.

 

The challenges for the coexistence of Drupal Support Service and SharePoint are twofold. First, organizations must define a content strategy to avoid duplication of contents and maintenance efforts. Second, content feeds must be established from Drupal Support Service to SharePoint and vice versa.
 

 

 

Conclusion

Drupal Support Service 8 is a top-notch enterprise site building software platform. Organizations that have outgrown their existing non-Drupal Support Service CMS should consider migrating to Drupal Support Service 8. Migrating to Drupal Support Service 8 has its own unique challenges, including data migration and SEO retention. Vardot is an award-winning Drupal Support Service web solutions provider that can help you navigate through the process of migrating to Drupal Support Service. For more information, please contact Vardot.


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