Determining When to Move SharePoint to the Cloud

By Christian Buckley posted 06-23-2015 23:24


Microsoft is now a couple years into their cloud strategy, moving aggressively to transform their long-dominant consumer and enterprise products and platforms to meet their cloud-first, mobile-first vision of the future. While most would agree that Microsoft is directionally-correct in their strategy, the transition toward a cloud model has been anything but smooth. With Office365 setting growth records, and Windows Azure proving to be a bright spot in Microsoft's strategy, organizations are investigating the options, trying to understand how their business requirements fit into the cloud model.


For many SharePoint on-premises customers the shift toward software-as-a-service is more than just moving SharePoint's increasingly business-critical capabilities to the cloud. This new direction is forcing many customers to rethink their business requirements, re-architect their customizations and solutions for Microsoft's app model, and re-examine SharePoint’s very role within the organization. In short, the cloud strategy has been extremely disruptive for many businesses.

The disruption has many long-time SharePoint supporters asking about the future of the enterprise customer, many of which will maintain on premises installations for years to come -- which is *the* reason behind Microsoft's emphasis on hybrid this past year. Yes, there will be future versions of SharePoint on prem (SharePoint Server 2016 is due out in Q1 2016) with major versions on 3-4 year release cadence, as in the past. But with the rapid innovation cycle around the cloud, the company is still very optimistic that the rate at which enterprises and small to medium-sized businesses alike will move to the cloud will only increase, and so they will continue to put their R&D efforts into the cloud.


With interest in hybrid SharePoint solutions increasing, the majority of SharePoint customers are at least exploring the idea of moving data and business workloads into the cloud -- while many are openly stating their plans to maintain on premises workloads for years to come.


As the Microsoft cloud matures over time, however, I think we'll see the rate of pure-cloud adoption increase. But for now, and for most enterprises, it's not just about moving CAPEX expenditures to OPEX budgets. Widespread adoption of cloud solutions will only happen when business requirements can be met, pure and simple. Ultimately, I am still very optimistic about the growth and potential of SharePoint. As stated by Dave Martin, VP of product marketing at Gimmal during a panel event last year, "The difference between SharePoint and the other established/traditional information management platforms is that we have only touched on the value SharePoint can bring." And I completely agree.