SharePoint in the Cloud Requires Environmental Shift in Thinking

By Christian Buckley posted 07-21-2014 14:15


For many, moving collaboration to the coud makes perfect sense. Most companies struggle with the design and architectural decisions around SharePoint, and, more specifically, they have a difficult time decided whether or not they should mirror the more traditional structure and permissions of their internal portals, or fully embrace the ad hoc and collaborative model of the social platforms that their end users love. 


SharePoint environments are generally setup following the traditional, top-down managed portal, whereas a social collaboration environment is equated with user-driven activities and a more innovative environment. There is no denying that the next generation of employees is pushing toward more social platforms and solutions. With the seemingly relentless barrage of cloud-based, social collaboration tools hitting the enterprise, the activities of the Information Worker are becoming more and more decentralized, making active management of your intellectual property even more critical.


Companies struggle with the decision of which assets to push to the cloud for good reason: these decisions determine how the environment will be managed, the governance policies enacted, how customizations will be supported, and if maintaining hybrid solutions for any period of time, the level of difficulty of future upgrades (because those cloud-based tools will be changing at an almost constant pace).

There is an "environmental shift" happening inside the SharePoint community, where the size of your environment, the server footprint, or the traditional views of security and centralized management have little to do with the  topology and functionality used. The size and complexity of your environment depends on the services used, the performance needs of the organization, and how the environment is designed for scalability -- and especially how the environment is to be managed.


This environmental shift in your thinking must be reflected in your planning efforts before moving to the next version of SharePoint, regardless of whether it will be on prem, in the cloud, or somewhere in between. Regardless of your intent, the key is to understand the services you plan to consumer and their limitations, build a platform that meets your business requirements, and optimize that platform for your performance needs:

  • Define the service applications to be deployed
  • Understand their governance and management capabilities, map them against your governance and management requirements
  • Fill in any gaps through 3rd party tool ecosystem, or building to suit
  • Model your environment for scalability
  • Define and communicate roles, permissions, and security boundaries
  • Understand growth needs for your content, structure appropriately
  • If preparing for a migration from an older version of SharePoint, take the time to clean up your information architecture prior to your move, and understand how you will enforce/manage once inside your new deployment


While moving to the cloud may provide many plug-and-play solutions, allowing your organization to get out of the business of infrastructure management, the reality is that there may be a long (or even permanent) hybrid transition as your requirements evolve to fit the cloud paradigm, and as many cloud platforms mature. 

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