SharePoint 2013 Migrations and Hybrid Environments
2014 will be a significant year for companies making a move to SharePoint 2013 and getting some of their SharePoint Infrastructure out to the “Cloud”.
Being in the Cloud has the promise of lowering dedicated infrastructure and personnel cost to keep the environment running. It also has the promise of always being on the latest version of SharePoint to get all the latest bells and whistles without the headaches of performing major version upgrades/migrations. SharePoint is entering a new era of enterprise software in the Cloud that has version updates on a scale of multiple times a year vs. every 3 years. Software is moving at a fast pace that demands a Software as a Service strategy (like Yammer is today). To stay competitive, SharePoint is moving to the Cloud to provide customers the benefit of the most current version of SharePoint and not have customers be left behind on a version that was deployed 3-6 years back in their own infrastructure.
Here are some numbers from a recent AIIM White Paper on SharePoint 2013:
9% of smaller organizations plan to move all of their SharePoint content to the 365 cloud, compared to 2% of mid-sized and 3% of largest. 29% overall are looking to a hybrid cloud, but half of these will use a third-party or private cloud, not 365. 24% are not going to cloud, and 43% are undecided. 20% are currently using Exchange 365, but only 8% are using SharePoint 365.
To avoid getting lost in all the terms that are in this post, I have created a quick cheat sheet.
Terms and Terminology
- SharePoint On-Premises – When the SharePoint Farm is deployed within your company’s infrastructure (i.e. behind your company firewall)
- SharePoint Online – When SharePoint is being hosted in the Cloud by Microsoft
- Hybrid – A SharePoint Hybrid Environment is one that incorporates both SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-Premises
- Azure (aka Windows Azure) – Azure has many services. In the SharePoint world, it can go as far as hosting your VMs for your SharePoint farm, but it is usually where you would host your SharePoint Apps
- Cloud – A very overloaded term, but look at it as any software or infrastructure service that is not running within your company’s internal infrastructure (SharePoint Online – Microsoft’s Shared Infrastructure for SharePoint is considered in the “Cloud”)
From our experience, most large companies will not completely move to a full Cloud presence for SharePoint, but opt to go with an Hybrid Environment that will include SharePoint Online, On-Premises SharePoint and possibly infrastructure in places like Azure.
Going to a Hybrid Architecture does make your environment more complicated before it becomes simplified, but it is the most prudent step to take to preserve current investments while getting the benefits of SharePoint Online.
Why Invest in Moving to a Hybrid SharePoint Environment?
- Let Microsoft start managing your server and software upgrades
- Focus your teams on your business solutions vs. keeping a SharePoint environment healthy
- Always be on the latest version of SharePoint and move away from expensive and timely migration efforts
Enterprises moving to the Cloud via a dedicated or multi-tenant environment for SharePoint is not a trivial task and is more effort than a traditional SharePoint On-Premises version upgrade.
Moving completely to the Cloud without some intermediate steps typically is not the most feasible path to preserve your current investments in SharePoint. Because some of your investments need to stay in SharePoint On-Premises for a period of time while you transition into SharePoint Online, you need to architect a seamless experience between the On-Premises and Cloud environments. Not only do you have technology considerations when moving to the Cloud, you will have legal implications to consider when organizations need to keep content in an On-Premises SharePoint Environment because that content is being potentially regulated or highly sensitive. This content should stay On-Premises until more appropriate updates to technology and regulations can address your concerns of properly protecting the content.
During this transition you do not want to confuse the customer by having two places for a user to go to for their SharePoint needs. If you decide to move in the direction of a Hybrid SharePoint Environment, you must consider things like:
- how profiles are managed between your On-Premise and Cloud/Online environments,
- how single sign-on can be implemented to have one login to authenticate you in both environments and
- how to search SharePoint content across your On-Premise and Cloud/Online environments in a way that can be optimized for an enriched user experience within your company’s IT infrastructure and security policies.
These are some of the major considerations among several others that will be key to your success. The folks at ThreeWill are passionate about making sure this transition to the Cloud is done right. We also like to figure out how you can make the transition in a way that maximizes your current solutions as you leverage the benefits of being in the Cloud.
We are Here to Help you be Successful with SharePoint Hybrid Environments
We have already helped companies with this transition to Hybrid and SharePoint 2013, and we see 2014 as a big year for us to continue to help companies successfully navigate all the decisions to be made along the way. Our technology team has started sharing some of our experiences with SharePoint Online and Hybrid Environments on our blog (see the office-365 tag for some of our most recent sharing).
As I said earlier, this becomes more complicated before it becomes simplified. This transition will be significant, but getting to the other side will put your company in a position to take advantage of focusing on your business needs and dealing less with the infrastructure of SharePoint. I think most enterprises do not want to become SharePoint Infrastructure and Migration experts, but want to know enough about SharePoint to use the platform to support the success of their core business. SharePoint Online within Office365 moves companies further in that direction.