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How to Prepare Data for a SharePoint Migration to Microsoft 365

Considering migrating from SharePoint on-premises to Microsoft 365? Here are 6 key steps you can take to prepare your data to ensure a smooth transition to SharePoint Online.

Promoted by archTIS
Fri, 31 Mar 2023
How to Prepare Data for a SharePoint Migration to Microsoft 365
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Cloud migration projects can be complicated. The process requires significant planning, coordination, and management to ensure successful outcomes. There are many risks to consider including data quality control, exposure, loss, and the costs involved. If your organisation is migrating from SharePoint Server to Microsoft 365 (M365) you must take steps to prepare and ensure a successful outcome.

SharePoint Data Migration Preparation

To prepare data for migration, you will need to analyse its sensitivity, access, and usefulness. The key questions that need to be answered include:

  • Where is your sensitive data located?
  • Who has access to any sensitive data?
  • What can they do with it?
  • Should they have that level of access?
  • How much stale data exists? Can it be deleted or archived?
  • How much data is duplicated elsewhere?
  • Does all the data need to be migrated to Microsoft 365?
  • What other steps you can take to reduce risk?

Answering these important questions using the steps below will make the migration path much easier, keep costs in check and ensure data remains protected throughout the process.

1. Understand Your Data Footprint

By understanding your current data footprint, organisations can ensure that data migrated to Microsoft 365 is usable, secure, and well-organized. It also ensures that time and resource is not wasted on moving data that is no longer needed.

Determining classification criteria is a key first step in prepping your data. You must assess the content’s sensitivity, its value to your organisation, and the potential impact of a breach. You will then define a classification scheme that reflects the criteria you have identified for your sensitive data.

Next, running a data discovery scan will allow you to identify data that has value or sensitivity. You should also check for unused or inactive files that can be deleted or archived to reduce exposure risk and migration costs.

Products like NC Protect can greatly aid in the SharePoint migration process. NC Protect offers data discovery using out-of-the-box policies that allow you to find regulated information such as Personally Identifiable Information (PII), healthcare information (PHI), and financial data. It also allows you to develop a set of rules to automatically classify sensitive files and apply file-level protections that can be migrated with the data to the Cloud. It also supports custom identifiers for company information such as Intellectual Property (IP) so it can be labelled and protected.

2. Run Permission Map Scans

A permissions map scan examines SharePoint to identify all the permissions granted to users and service accounts. It’s essential to run this ahead of migration, as the permissions will need to be replicated in your Microsoft 365 environment.

Permission maps also help to reduce risk by providing insights into potential vulnerabilities and access control issues. Conducting a permissions map scan with NC Protect allows you to identify which users or applications have excessive permissions that could potentially increase the risk of a data breach.

By reviewing the permissions granted to sensitive data and only permitting access to what is necessary, an organisation can significantly reduce the risk of data exposure or a breach.

3. Remove Duplicate Data

Duplicate data management is an important part of the SharePoint migration process. Deduplication reduces the amount of data that will need to be transferred to the Cloud and helps reduce overall storage costs.

Aside from wasting time and resources to migrate it, duplicates also pose a problem for users who may be working with the wrong version of a document due to multiple copies in circulation. Additionally, removing unnecessary copies of sensitive data reduces the attack surface that a potential attacker could exploit.

With NC Protect’s Duplicate Document Manager, quickly detect and resolve duplicates of documents. When a duplicate is detected, the file is assigned to the original document by NC Protect. Any attempt to open the duplicate document will be redirected to the original file.

4. Classify Data by its Sensitivity

Data classification not only provides better insight into your data landscape but also enables compliance and information security teams to prioritize efforts to secure data in accordance with its value or sensitivity. It also helps mitigate the risk of sensitive data exposure during migration.

It is important to note that companies have different data governance requirements. NC Protect allows users to tailor how data is classified and what variables are used to identify what is sensitive, non-sensitive, active, and safe to remove according to their unique needs.

5. Monitor Data Changes

Data is subject to change as information is added or edited. NC Protect monitors files for changes and automatically reclassifies them ensuring that your data is always classified properly and accessed in compliance with relevant regulations. It ensures that your valuable sensitive data is protected throughout its lifecycle, from the point of creation to changes and every access attempt.

Protecting Data Before, During, and After a SharePoint Migration

You don’t have to wait until you migrate your SharePoint data to Microsoft 365 to take advantage of dynamic classification and protection. NC Protect can help prepare your data before you move to the Cloud and ensures sensitive data is protected in its current repository. NC Protect’s classifications, access controls, and protection policies can be exported from SharePoint Server to your Microsoft 365 environment to ensure data is consistently protected throughout the digital transformation process and beyond. Learn more.

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