September 14, 2015 // By Scott Diehl
"We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”
The fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) surrounding the future of Microsoft’s SharePoint offerings has provoked many anxious watercooler and boardroom conversations in 2015. “Everything is changing…what I will do with my hard-earned coding skills?” asks the SharePoint developer. “How will I justify my decision to invest heavily in our SharePoint intranet/extranet?” asks the IT executive. Many indicators in Q3 tell us not to panic, even if the messaging from Microsoft was less than clear earlier this year.
Rigidly Defined Uncertainty
I recently had the good fortune to attend a webinar hosted by Gartner’s Jim Murphy on the topic of “Getting the Most from SharePoint: OnPrem or Online.” Mr. Murphy’s expert analysis speaks for itself, and it affirms the key strategic considerations we have been sharing with our Magenic clients:
- Inflection Point – It is prudent to be cautious. The SharePoint Platform is undergoing a time of (potentially positive) transformation unlike any we have seen before in the industry, making decisions more complicated for IT professionals.
- Bright Future - SharePoint Server on premise is NOT going away, and Microsoft has expressed its explicit commitment to this multibillion-dollar business. Few organizations are likely to stay on premise in perpetuity, and many are considering moving to a "hybrid” (mixed SP on-prem and online) deployments.
- Continuing Innovation – Microsoft is encouraging customers towards Office 365 and cloud-based solutions (no surprise here). Most future innovation will be focused on the online/cloud-based products lines. The lines of demarcation between SharePoint and Office 365 are gradually becoming more blurred.
- The Soul of the Platform is changing - SharePoint's identity is shifting, with certain responsibilities being stripped out into other products and services (Secure Storage [OneDrive], Search [Delve/Office Graph], Social [Yammer]). Focus for the future will be on Content Management, Portals and Sites.
Evolution Not Revolution
When faced with any level of doubt, I appreciate the feedback of other professionals struggling with the same challenges. During the aforementioned webinar, Jim Murphy conducted an ad-hoc online poll of the executives and software practitioners in attendance, for which I recorded the results to understand the direction in which our colleagues are moving. It should be noted that this was an informal poll – not an official Gartner survey – and the results represent a “self-selected” group of attendees, as opposed to the broadest, most complete sample of IT organizations. Your mileage may vary, so please read with a critical eye.
Which statement best describes your current SharePoint situation?
Takeaway – On-premises is still king. Movement online is gradual.
- Most organizations (~60%) are still focused on on-premises SharePoint
- Full transition to O365 SharePoint (16%) is occurring gradually, with a comparable percentage (17%) dipping their toes into the new world
- Few organizations are taking advantage of the “half-step” of putting SharePoint into an Azure- hosted VM (IaaS), although at Magenic, we have seen clients leverage Azure hosted VM’s to quickly spin up development (DEV) environments
The Most Promising Aspect of a Cloud-based SharePoint is…
Takeaway – Future flexibility and “speed to market” appear to trump other factors (cost) and industry trends (supporting mobile).
- Less than one in five of the polled organizations rate “controlling costs” or “contextualized experience” (e.g. using SharePoint to serve up mobile content) as a compelling driver to move into the Cloud
- Business Agility and Reduced Dependency on Specialized Skills (e.g. in-house SharePoint Administrators, or developers exclusively focused on SharePoint development) are compelling value propositions
- All of the top-ranked factors – Business Agility, Reduced Dependency on Specialized Skills, and Rapid Innovation speak to how quickly and painlessly an organization can deploy a SharePoint application
The Most Troublesome Aspect of SharePoint’s Shift to the Cloud is…
Takeaway – Microsoft is still working to overcome the “cloud trust” hurdle.
- Surprisingly few organizations seem concerned about vendor lock-in (deep commitment to Microsoft) or a synergy between products that looks a lot like “vendor entanglement”
- Security and regulatory concerns with the Cloud are still the biggest issue; Azure has a good story here, but most IT professionals will need to focus their due diligence in this area, to build trust within their organizations
- One in five organizations worry about the churn in development approach (Full Trust, Sandbox, SharePoint Apps) that has occurred over the last three versions of the platform (2007, 2010, 2013)
Which statement best describes your current SharePoint Plan?
Takeaway – Many organizations are experimenting with different deployment models, to see which solution mix works best for them. You’re in good company.
- Pretty even split among organizations when it comes to their near-term plans for a SharePoint deployment model. Slight bias – as to be expected – towards on-premises, although that is clearly changing
- Virtually no organizations anticipate being on-premises in perpetuity
I view the evolution from on premises to online as an encouraging step in the SharePoint platform’s growth. The new features, development approach, and diverse deployment models provide us with viable – and arguably compelling – options for making our SharePoint environments more flexible, maintainable, and easily upgradeable.
As a technology leader or advisor, staying current on the recent changes in the SharePoint platform’s direction is your best means for aligning investments with the problems and challenges specific to your organization.
If you’d like to contact Magenic directly, email us or call us at 877-277-1044.