It is great to have such a wealth of thought leaders in the SharePoint Community. I read a recent blog post from Dan Holme (@danholme) on IT Unity. He had a great follow-up blog post up to Julia White’s (@julwhite) post on “Evolution of SharePoint“. Ok, it might look a little silly to have a blog post to a blog post that was a follow-up to another blog post, but we like things in 3’s here at ThreeWill!

IT decision makers, developers, administrators and consultants who have made significant architectural and career commitments to the platform are watching the evolution and direction of SharePoint closely.  At ThreeWill, we have our ear to the ground on SharePoint’s future so we can best advise our clients what direction is best for their particular situation.  Therefore, seeing mature views of SharePoint’s direction is refreshing.

In his blog post, Dan mentions some key points on how SharePoint is evolving in light of Microsoft’s move to the cloud and within the reality of what enterprises need from their current collaboration platforms.  Based on my review of Dan’s post (The Evolution of Microsoft, SharePoint & Microsoft 365), I had two key takeaways…

The SharePoint Pie is Now Multiple Mini-Pies

Dan made the following observation of the transformation of SharePoint Services into Microsoft 365:

Microsoft has broken apart “the SharePoint product into its constituent parts and services in Microsoft 365. We went from having one ‘SharePoint pie’ in the sky to having individual mini-pies. SharePoint social began to be replaced with Yammer… My Site document libraries became OneDrive for Business… SharePoint business intelligence has been broken off to PowerBI and Excel.”

Having these “mini-pies” emerge as products that could stand on their own is exciting to see.    With having service-oriented architecture for Microsoft 365 and Office Graph as the a way to interrelate content with context, the silos of communication in SharePoint, Exchange, Lync and others can come together into new services/portals like Delve or Microsoft 365 Groups.  It is interesting to see these new services emerge and how Microsoft is giving examples of how content from different collaboration mechanisms (email, Yammer discussions, calendars, etc) can be seamlessly aggregated through the underpinnings of new architectural services such as the Office Graph.

SharePoint Fades to the Background in Microsoft 365 and Hybrid SharePoint Model is a Reality

Another key takeaway for me on the evolution of SharePoint is what Dan pointed out on SharePoint Online.  He says SharePoint Online has lost its traditional identity of an independent server product and has moved from a monolithic platform to a set of composable services in the cloud.  But on-premises, SharePoint will live on for the foreseeable future.  In particular, Dan stated that:

     “Microsoft has seen this coming. Those of us who pay close attention to the space have had no doubt. Now it’s clear. SharePoint is dead. But only as an identity, and only in the cloud. It will live on, on-prem. But in the cloud, we’ve reached the tipping point where we leave behind SharePoint Online as a monolithic platform-in-the-cloud, and begin to see it as an evolved higher being, where each of its strengths are now individual services crafted into experiences.

Julia’s blog post emphasizes a point I’ve been making for years: Microsoft 365 is different than SharePoint. It’s more. It’s better (as a broad statement). But it’s not enough. On-prem SharePoint will continue to support key use cases for many customers, and Microsoft’s investments in the on-prem server product will continue for the near-to-foreseeable future.”

I know statements like “SharePoint is Dead” has been used in titles of several articles and blog posts for the past year or two and these articles tended to highlight losing the traditional SharePoint capabilities and not looking at how this change creates better options for the SharePoint community.  It is good to see more mature views of the future of SharePoint.  Organizations that have SharePoint as core platform (or a services providers for SharePoint like ThreeWill) all know that it is just “a matter of when and not if” when it comes to companies going to the cloud with SharePoint.   When they do go to the cloud, we believe it will be in a hybrid model for most large enterprises that have made a significant investment in SharePoint on-premises.  Also, each of these hybrid models will be unique to that business’ need.

Because of the investments enterprises have made with SharePoint on-premises and Microsoft’s promise to continue to release new versions of SharePoint Server (i.e. SharePoint 2016), SharePoint on-premises will be here for years to come. Is that 5 or 15 or 30 years, who knows.  What we do know is Microsoft is committed to bringing us to the cloud, but giving us freedom to do that on our own terms and in a way that gives us more options than any other cloud provider.

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