I have been blogging on SharePoint Technology topics for almost 5 years now and being a SharePoint advocate, I felt it necessary to use SharePoint for my blogging. It helps me identify the “goods” and the “needs improvement” capabilities of blogging in SharePoint for myself and for when my clients seek advice. Historically, I had my own hosted server running SharePoint 2007 Foundation which I manually upgraded to SharePoint 2010 Foundation. It provided me all the on-premises tools necessary to customize, design, code and cater my blog to my liking.
With the emergence of the “Cloud”, I felt it necessary to make the switch to SharePoint Online within Office 365 to avoid the pains and costs of maintaining my own server and to educate myself in the process. My blogs have been lucky enough to be mentioned in some people’s top blogs list (i.e. Mark Jones Top SharePoint Blogs Listly and Dynamics 10 Top 50 SharePoint Sites) so it was very important to me to ensure all of my historic posts would be migrated to the new system. Some of the decision criteria I had to make included the following:
Will the Office 365 public SharePoint site have the capabilities I need for blogging?
The blog and overall publishing capability within the public version of SharePoint Online is relatively new and doesn’t provide the full functionality that I am used to as on-prem versions (i.e. Content Search Web Parts, etc…). There is no real blog “site” or “site-template”, it is all on the root public site within Publishing Pages and custom blog web parts on those pages. After playing around, it does have the basic functionality I needed to blog although comments seem to now be handled via a new social plug in mechanism and my old comments will now be lost.
What are the steps I would take in transfering my domain over to Office 365?
I had an existing Office 365 Subscription and was easily able to change my DNS and Office 365 settings to point to the new Blog site by following the instructions outlined in Office 365 (basically adding some CNAME and A settings).
How will I perform the migration?
I definitely did not want to manually migrate (i.e. copy and paste) all of my historic posts to the new system so I had to choose a tool. Luckily my friends at Sharegate allowed me to use their tool to do the migration and it was indeed a very easy process using their tool.
How will I design the site?
To design the site, the folks at BindTuning had some nice and easy to deploy templates for the default Office 365 SharePoint Online public site. I customized it on their site and deployed it to my blog site quite easily using their tools and step by step instructions.
How will I post to and edit entries in my new blog?
Over the years, I have been spoiled by using Windows Live Writer for my blogging needs but it is not yet supported with Office 365 yet. Luckily Office 365 has a “Launch blogging app” capability which opens up MS Word for editing the blog and has all the basic capabilities that I require.
Is there a way to not lose my current SEO rankings and links?
I do not have a solution for this (yet) so I will have to wait for the search engines and users to re-crawl and fix up their links to my articles since my legacy links were in a different format.
Overall, it was a good learning experience and I will keep trying to enhance this new blog using a combination of out-of-the-box SharePoint Online tools with SharePoint Designer and I am sure that Microsoft will be making enhancements to what they offer in the SharePoint Online public site as well.