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Navigating the Challenges of Azure DevOps Migration: Lessons Learned and Best Practices

Migrating to Azure DevOps (ADO) can be a game-changer for organizations looking to streamline their development workflows and enhance collaboration. However, an ADO migration, especially a cross-organization migration, comes with its own set of challenges. In this blog, I’ll share insights from a recent migration project that involved moving repositories, projects, and work items between organizations. These lessons learned could help you avoid common pitfalls and successfully navigate your ADO migration journey.

Estimating the Volume of Work


Estimating the volume of work will always be challenging; however, a good rule of thumb is to double whatever estimate you come up with, and you should be in a good spot.


  • Detailed Discovery Phase: Conduct a thorough discovery phase early on to understand the full scope of the migration. Use detailed questionnaires and multiple stakeholder meetings to get accurate information.

  • Flexible Project Planning: Prepare for scope adjustments by incorporating buffer time and resources into the project plan.

Access Delays and Active Usage


Obtaining access to the current source system was delayed, and the active usage by developers required a staged migration approach.


  • Early Access Requests: Start the process of obtaining necessary access permissions as early as possible.

  • Staged Migration: Plan for a phased migration to minimize disruption to ongoing development activities. This might involve migrating less critical repositories first and scheduling more critical migrations during off-peak times.

Aggressive Deadlines


The project was under an aggressive deadline, adding pressure to complete the migration swiftly without compromising quality.


  • Realistic Timelines: Set realistic timelines based on thorough assessments. Communicate clearly with stakeholders about the potential risks of aggressive deadlines.

  • Parallel Processing: Where possible, run migration processes in parallel to save time without overloading resources.

Re-Migration and Coordination


Some repositories needed to be re-migrated to ensure no new commits were pushed post-migration, requiring tight coordination with team members.


  • Freeze Windows: Implement code freeze windows during critical phases of the migration to ensure no changes are made.

  • Coordination Tools: Use collaboration tools to keep all team members informed and coordinated. Regular check-ins and updates can help in managing this smoothly.

Area Paths and Iterations Migration


Migrating area paths and iterations proved challenging due to the hierarchical structure and dependencies.


  • Structured Mapping: Create a detailed mapping of the area paths and iterations before migration. Use scripts to automate the migration of these structures where possible.

  • Verification: Post-migration verification is crucial to ensure that all paths and iterations have been migrated correctly.

Work Item Migration Throughput Limitations


Facing throughput limitations due to the restricted processing power of Azure migration tools.


  • Incremental Migration: Break down the migration of work items into smaller batches to avoid hitting throughput limits.

  • Optimize Scripts: Optimize migration scripts for efficiency and monitor the process to identify and resolve bottlenecks promptly.

User Migration Issues


Issues related to user license types and email domains impacted the smooth migration of user accounts.


  • License Audit: Conduct a license audit to ensure that all users have the correct licenses before starting the migration.

  • Domain Validation: Validate email domains and ensure they are properly configured in the target organization to avoid conflicts.

Migration Failures and Troubleshooting


The migration process often failed, requiring extensive troubleshooting and restarts.


  • Robust Testing: Perform thorough testing in a staging environment to identify potential issues before the actual migration.

  • Comprehensive Logs: Maintain detailed logs to facilitate quick troubleshooting and resolution of issues that arise during migration.

Next Steps

Coordinating the migration process with various teams requires additional time and careful planning. Migrating multiple assets simultaneously can significantly slow down the process and increase the risk of failures. Here are some best practices:

  • Enhanced Coordination: Schedule regular coordination meetings with all teams involved to ensure alignment and address any issues promptly.

  • Sequential Asset Migration: Consider migrating different types of assets (work items, pipelines) sequentially rather than simultaneously to reduce system load and complexity.

  • Backup and Recovery Plans: Always have backup and recovery plans in place to mitigate any data loss or corruption during the migration process.

By understanding these challenges and implementing these solutions, you can significantly improve the success rate of your ADO migration project. If you’re planning an ADO migration and need expert guidance, feel free to reach out. Our consulting services can help you navigate these complexities and achieve a smooth, efficient migration.

Need Help with Your ADO Migration? Contact us today for expert consulting services to ensure a successful migration to Azure DevOps. Our team has the experience and knowledge to help you overcome these challenges and optimize your development processes.

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