SharePoint 2013 Evaluation Site Collections

Published by on January 31st, 2013

“Try Before You Buy”

SharePoint 2013 Upgrades in a Nutshell

Welcome to the second post in our “SharePoint 2013 Upgrades in a Nutshell” series. This post will cover a new feature in the SharePoint 2013 upgrade story – Evaluation Site Collections. Evaluation Site Collections lend site collection administrators the ability to try out the 2013 version of their site collection before actually upgrading the production site collection’s UI and content. If allowed by the farm administrator’s configuration, the two versions of the site collection will run in parallel.

Evaluation Site Collection Life-cycle

Evaluation site collections are meant to be a temporary copy of a production site collection that allows the administrators to test and prepare for the actual production site collection upgrade without affecting end users productivity. Every evaluation site collection goes through the following life-cycle:

  1. Requested
  2. Queued
  3. Created
  4. Expired

Creating the Request

After you’ve attached the databases to the farm (and a web app), when you navigate to your root site collection you’ll see this handy message:

SharePoint 15 Upgrade Notification Bar

SharePoint 15 Upgrade Notification Bar

After clicking “Start now”, you’ll be taken to the “Prepare for takeoff” page. I’m not personally a fan of their “witty” copy here, but even so we must march on.  This screen allows you to choose to upgrade the site collection now (queued) or try a demo upgrade (queue an evaluation site collection).  We are going to queue up an evaluation site collection now.

The SharePoint Upgrade Options Screen

The SharePoint Upgrade Options Screen

We’ll next observe the confirmation dialog which sets the expectation that it might be a while before the evaluation site collection is provisioned:

Evaluation Site Queued  Confirmation Screen

Evaluation Site Queued Confirmation Screen

The Upgrade Queue

When a site collection administrator requests an evaluation copy of their site, the request is put into a queue. The queue is monitored by a timer job which runs every night at 1am by default. This timer job will do the work of the site collection copy and evaluation site collection creation. You can expedite the running of this timer job (named “Create Upgrade Evaluation Site Collections job”) by clicking “run now” on the timer job definition page within Central Administration.

Create Upgrade Evaluation Site Collections job interface within Central Administration (SharePoint 2013)

Create Upgrade Evaluation Site Collections job interface within Central Administration (SharePoint 2013)

In order to see all the site collection requests in the upgrade queue, we can use this PowerShell command in the SharePoint 2013 Management Shell:

Get-SPSiteUpgradeSessionInfo –ContentDatabase <yourDBname> -ShowInProgress –ShowCompleted –ShowFailed

SharePoint 2013 Site Collection Upgrade Queue

SharePoint 2013 Site Collection Upgrade Queue

To see our site collection in the queue, you can use this PowerShell command in the SharePoint 2013 Management Shell:

Get-SPSiteUpgradeSessionInfo –site http://yoururl

Our Site Collection Upgrade Request Information in the SharePoint 2013 Upgrade Queue

Our Site Collection Upgrade Request Information in the SharePoint 2013 Upgrade Queue

Once the evaluation Site Collection is created, it is automatically upgraded by a separate timer job named “Upgrade Site Collections” which by defaults runs every minute. The URL has a format of http://webapp/sites/sitename-evalIf it is the root site collection, it will have a format of http://webapp/sites/root-eval.

Your Shiny New Upgraded Evaluation Site Collection

Here is our plain-Jane 2010 team site that has been copied and upgraded in the evaluation site collection:

Upgraded Evaluation Site Collection with the SharePoint 2013 User Experience

Upgraded Evaluation Site Collection with the SharePoint 2013 User Experience

All of the SharePoint 2010 functionality copied over should still work, such as workflows, alerts, search, views, etc. This should give you, the site collection administrator, a really good idea of what things will look like and potential areas for end user training.

Evaluation Site Collection Expiration

Evaluation site collections have a default expiration period of 30 days. The deletion is handled by a third timer job named “Delete Upgrade Evaluation Site” which runs daily between 1:00 and 1:30am. The evaluation site collection will also automatically be deleted when its parent production site collection is upgraded.

Recap

Evaluation site collections are a new feature in the SharePoint 2013 upgrade story. They allow site collection administrators to play with and preview how their site will look and function after upgrade before upgrading the production site.  During this trial period, the site collection administrator can familiarize themselves with the new UI, produce training content, and test customizations. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more exciting information on SharePoint 2013 upgrades!

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About Andy Milsark

Andy Milsark has written 43 posts in this blog.

Andy, a proud new daddy, enjoys learning as much as humanly possible about SharePoint, PowerShell, and Private Cloud Automation. When he needs a break from battling SharePoint, he can be found throwing around weights at the local Crossfit gym. Follow Andy on Google+

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  1. Khushi
    January 23rd, 2014 at 13:51 | #1

    Thank You Thank you Thank you so much Andy!!! Your post was really really helpful. Microsoft should give the Url of the copy site collection after they created. It was puzzle for me to find out what happen after I press “TRY A DEMO Upgrade”.

    Best Regards,
    Khushi

  2. March 31st, 2014 at 10:23 | #2

    @Khushi
    So happy I could help! I actually just had to refer back to this blog I wrote. :)

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