Introduction to SharePoint 2013 Upgrade: Part I

In this article we will see what the options are for SharePoint 2013 upgrade features, such as upgrade for service applications, a site health checker, and upgrade for site collections.

In-place upgrade is not supported in SharePoint 2013

As you know, an upgrade to SharePoint 2010 provides an option to install the new version over the earlier version on the same hardware. This is called an in-place upgrade. During this process, the complete installation, that includes databases and sites, is upgraded in a fixed order. Although this is a simple method, an in-place upgrade presents problems in performance and control for a farm administrator. There was no way to control the order in which content is upgraded, and a failure in a particular site collection could stop the whole process.

The database-attaches and upgrade method offers more flexibility, more control, and a better success rate. To use a database attach upgrade, you complete the following tasks:

  1. Create and configure a new farm in SharePoint 2013.
  2. Attach the content database and services databases to the new farm in 2013.
  3. Upgrade the data and sites. You can upgrade the content databases in any order and upgrade several databases at the same time to speed up the overall process.

Database-attach method service application databases

For the SharePoint 2013, we can use the database attach method to upgrade the following service application databases:

  • Business Data Connectivity

    This service application is available for both SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Foundation 2013.
  • Managed Metadata

    This service application is available only for SharePoint Server 2013.
  • PerformancePoint

    This service application is available only for SharePoint Server 2013.
  • Secure Store

    This service application is available only for SharePoint Server 2013.
  • User Profile (Profile, Social, and Sync databases)

    This service application is available only for SharePoint Server 2013.
  • Search administration

    This service application is available only for SharePoint Server 2013.

Deferred site collection upgrade

In SharePoint 2010, administrators use either the in-place upgrade process to upgrade sites immediately, or the command line to upgrade all sites at the same time or individually. In SharePoint 2013, farm administrators can now allow site collection owners to upgrade their sites to the new user interface on their own timeline. The commands for upgrading a site collection are on the Site Settings page in the Site Collection Administration section. There are also Windows PowerShell commands to upgrade site collections to the new user interface

Site collection health checker

Site collection owners or administrators can use a site collection health checker to detect any potential issues with their site collections and address them before they upgrade sites to the new version. The checker is available after upgrade also to detect any health issues on an ongoing basis.

Upgrade evaluation site collections

In SharePoint 2013, the upgrade of the software and data was separated from the upgrade of the site. This means that the sites can truly remain running in SharePoint 2010 mode until a site owner or administrator obviously upgrades the site to the new user interface. Site collection owners can request an evaluation site, which is a separate copy of the site, to review the new interface and functionality. After they have reviewed the site and made necessary changes in their original site, they can then upgrade their sites to the new version. This looks to be a very good option for the site collection administrator.

Notifications for life-cycle events

An email message and a status bar notification in a site collection notify site collection owners when an upgrade is available. Site collection owners can create an evaluation site from email and control the expiration and deletion of that site by using email also. A status bar notification in the site collection also informs all users if a site is in read-only mode.

Throttles for site collection upgrade

To make sure that site collection upgrades do not cause an outage on your farm, there are throttles built in at the web application, database, and content level. This means that even if 100 site collection owners decide to upgrade their site collections at the same time, only some are run at the same time, and the rest are put into a queue to run later. This feature makes sure that our farm is not overloaded with requests.

Work in SharePoint 2010 mode instead of visual upgrade

Visual upgrade in SharePoint 2010 Products lets site owners and administrators see what their site would be like in the new user interface. However, it is not a true preview because the site itself has already been upgraded to the new functionality. Consequently, some Web Parts or other elements do not display properly.

SharePoint 2013 can host sites in both SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 modes. The installation contains both SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 versions of the following types of elements:

  • Features, site templates, site definitions, and Web Parts

    The directories on the file system are duplicated in both the 14 and 15 paths, for example:

    • Web Server Extensions/14/TEMPLATE/Features
    • Web Server Extensions/15/TEMPLATE/Features
  • IIS support directories:

    • _ControlTemplates, _ControlTemplates/15
  • Solution deployment, which lets legacy solutions work in 2010 mode

These features helps us to add existing SharePoint 2010 products. Solutions can be deployed to SharePoint 2013 and continue to function for 2010 sites, usually without requiring any changes.
Log files are now in ULS format.

The format of the upgrade, upgrade error, and site upgrade log files now comply with the Unified Logging System (ULS) conventions for easier review. You can verify the upgrade status from the ULS logs.