Review: Metalogix Content Matrix Migration Express Delivers Impressive Functionality, for Free

Written by Kathryn Birstein. Posted in Administration & Infrastructure

Metalogix Content matrix Migration Express

Metalogix Content Matrix is a multi-purpose content migration and consolidation tool which can connect to and move data into SharePoint from a number of sources: other SharePoint farms, file shares, websites, blogs, Exchange public folders, PSTs and eRoom. You can get a list of all the supported targets and sources on Metalogix's Tech Specs web page. The express version, Content Matrix Migration Express, however, supports only SharePoint, files share and public folder sources.

Recently Metalogix has come out with a free version (not a trial, the license is for 1 year, single use) that will allow you to migrate up to 25 gigs of data, a generous offer given that the 50 gig version is $1,995.00 and the 100GB version $3,995. Note that Content Matrix Migration Express supports migrating from SharePoint 2007 to 2013 in one-hop without an intermediary stop in SharePoint 2010, and from SharePoint on-premises farms to Office365, neither of which is supported by SharePoint out of the box.
Even though new SharePoint versions come along only every three years, many IT decision-makers dread the thought of upgrade due to the costs involved and disruption it can cause. In fact, these issues have severely impacted the adoption of new SharePoint versions despite the important feature enhancements and upgrade to current web standards they provide. 

Content Matrix Migration Express is designed to handle the upgrade challenge, allowing you to migrate as painlessly as possible while offering the ability to rearrange content and selectively choose what to migrate. In many cases, this ability to improve the farm during migration can be the carrot that convinces management to go forward with a SharePoint upgrade.

Installation

To get a copy of the free Content Matrix Migration Express, simply click the "Get It Now" button on the Metalogix homepage and fill out the contact form. You'll get an email with a link to the download and a license key. While Content Matrix Migration Express can be installed on any computer that has network access to SharePoint, for the best performance it’s recommended you use the Web Front End of the target SharePoint server (the one you're migrating to or want to rearrange data on) for migrations to on-premises SharePoint Servers. With this configuration, Content Matrix Migration Express can make use of the SharePoint Server Object Model. For migrations to Office 365, the best performance can be achieved by installing the Content Matrix Migration Express on the Web Front End of the source SharePoint server.

To avoid permissions hassles, you should be logged on as your farm account and make sure the farm account is a Site Collection Administrator on any site collections you're going to work with. To install choose the "Custom" setup and check the three editions that are included with Express. The setup will try to validate your license key online but if your server doesn't have an internet connection, you can download the Offline Install File (request a link from the Metalogix team).

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In the most common scenario, you will be upgrading from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013. In order to connect to the 2010 farm from the 2013 farm, you need only to install the Metalogix Extensions Web Service (the second to last option on the screenshot above) on the 2010 Web Front End server. However, keep in mind that installing on a SharePoint server is not required, and it is possible to install the Content Matrix Migration Express consoles on a standalone machine, and still connect to both source and destination SharePoint servers, giving you the flexibility to meet the needs of your particular environment.

SharePoint Edition

Connecting to your local farm with the SharePoint Edition is easy. Just choose the target type "Farm" from the "SharePoint Logon" dialog box that appears when you choose "Connect to SharePoint" from the "Connection" menu. Note that this will connect to everything, including every My Site personal site, so you may want to restrict your connection to the web application or site collection level, or use the Explorer View ‘Filter:’ option referenced below to only show specific Site Collections under a given farm or Web Application connection at any given time.

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Once you’ve connected and you’re seeing sites, click on the "View" menu option and check and uncheck the five options - Show 2nd Explorer, Show Jobs List, Show Checkboxes, Show Internal List Names, and Show Web URLs - to see what they do. Notice that when a list is checked you have three views of the list, Explorer, Item and Browser, and, on the bar directly under these tabs, filter and sort options.

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I found the easiest way to learn the interface was simply to click around and experiment. There are many, many options available to you and the best way to understand them fully is to try them out for yourself. In general, however, you are either copying whole objects, like a site collection, web or list, or you're copying and pasting discrete parts (by using the "Paste Special" option) of these objects, like alerts, permission levels, or web parts.

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Initiating a copy is very intuitive - click on a site collection or web, choose "Copy Site", then right-click on a destination site and choose "Paste Site". Here’s the hard part! You are now presented with the "Configure Site Copying Options" dialog box which includes twelve sections, many of which spawn additional dialog boxes. Note that these paste options will vary depending on what copy operation you are performing. 

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Besides features you expect to find in a migration program, like the ability to copy list metadata, there are many other powerful features available, such as the ability to rename lists and folders (in "Mapping Options") and transform site columns into managed metadata (in "Taxonomy Options"). Therefore, make sure you go through all the options carefully before you do anything in production. Otherwise you may miss out on something that might have been very useful in your situation but you didn't know it existed! Going through the “Help Topics” available on the “Help” menu is the best way to make sure you don't miss out on anything important.

Having used Migration Manager several years ago with SharePoint 2007, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Metalogix has added significant capabilities since then, especially the ability to migrate SharePoint Designer and Nintex* workflows and automatically generate PowerShell Scripts from jobs by simply clicking on the job in the Jobs List and choosing "Generate PowerShell Script". I generated a PowerShell script this way from a site collection move I tried and pasted it into the SharePoint Edition PowerShell Console (provided as part of the setup) and it ran without a hitch. This feature is vital for scheduling jobs to run off-hours to minimize load on your production servers. It’s also useful for splitting up a migration into multiple discrete operations or running migration jobs from multiple machines in parallel.

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Also, be sure to pay attention to the "Configuration" section in the "Help Topics", particularly "Server Side Configuration" and "Configuring Global User Mappings". Server Side Configuration is very useful in a program as powerful as Context Matrix Migration Express. You can create a XML file that allows you to disable any actions you don't want program users to be able to perform as well as exempt anyone who should not be subject to the restrictions. The "Configuring Global User Mappings", which allows remapping of users, domains, URIs and GUIDs, is also a great feature. Consider the situation where users have left the company or changed their names and you want to remap the user names on SharePoint objects. And the GUID mapping can also be a lifesaver in many situations where duplicate GUIDs are a problem.

Conclusion

The free edition of Content Matrix Migration Express is something every SharePoint administrator should look into for upgrading or migrating content to SharePoint 2013 or Office 365. It is also a very useful tool for moving or rearranging lists, promoting Sites to Site Collections or vice versa in SharePoint, importing documents from a file share (using the File Share Edition) or migrating data from Exchange or .PST files (using the Public Folders Edition.) If you choose to use it, plan to take the time to work with it so that you can take full advantage of all the available features.

Although the "Help Topics" are very useful, I found myself wishing Metalogix would provide more documentation and videos, especially on the more advanced features. Right now there is a weekly online demo Tuesdays at 2pm ET that you can sign up for and a brief but helpful features slideshow on the site that gives you ideas on how to use the product. Fortunately, Metalogix has shared that they are in the process of providing more videos, which will give admins a welcome leg up on mastering the program, along with excellent inline help in the powerful ‘Configure Site Copying Options’ screen, which should help you understand what each option does without having to try it.

For more information, visit Metalogix Website.


* Nintex workflow migration is available with the paid product.

 
Kathryn Birstein
Author: Kathryn BirsteinWebsite: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kbirstein
Kathryn is a SharePoint Architect who has been working with Microsoft technologies for 20+ years and SharePoint for the past six. She has consulted with many companies incl. JPMorgan Chase, UBS, the Federal Reserve Bank, the NYPA & Alliance Bernstein.

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