No N-2 Upgrade is Just Fine: Upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint Server 2016 via SharePoint 2013

Dan Holme

by Dan Holme on 5/6/2015

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No N-2 Upgrade is Just Fine: Upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint Server 2016 via SharePoint 2013

On March 6, 2015 at the Microsoft Ignite conference, Senior Technical Product Manger Bill Baer announced that upgrade to SharePoint Server 2016 from SharePoint 2010 will require a "hop" through SharePoint 2013. This "grandfather upgrade" or "N-2" upgrade process is identical to past upgrades. For example, you could not upgrade from Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to SharePoint Server 2013 – you had to 'roll through' SharePoint Server 2010.

I know that an "N-2 upgrade" was a target for Bill and the team – Bill tweeted about it earlier this year. So I'm sure this was a tough one to 'let go' from the goals for SharePoint Server 2016. Like any software company, Microsoft can't do everything, and has to make difficult decisions based on what they think will provide the most value to customers with the engineering resources they have at hand. I'm certain that some of the other things Microsoft is baking in to SharePoint 2016 will, in fact, be higher value in the grand scheme of things.

In my experience, an N-2 upgrade sounds great on a marketing checklist, but isn't really that helpful in the real world. Organizations running services on N-2 versions are generally suffering from "pain points" and "lessons learned" that they can and should correct as part of a migration or upgrade. Carefully thought-out business processes supplemented by third-party migration tools is, in my experience, a far better approach than a "roll-the-legacy-into-the-future" migration.

So while I would have loved to see Microsoft be able to deliver an N-2 upgrade just to reduce noise and "disappointment" from the community, I actually think the practical implication for Microsoft is minimal and that, for customers, it ends up being a constructive "tough love" that will help them move to SharePoint 2016 in a much healthier way.

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