Why Large Enterprise and Global SharePoint Deployments Will Not Work in the Cloud

By Errin O'Connor posted 11-10-2011 06:17


“Everyone is going to want one of these,” Gary Dahl half-joking said.  Gary Dahl is an author and advertising executive, but more importantly, the inventor of the Pet Rock.

A Cloud-based SharePoint Server 2010 enterprise-wide (i.e. Fortune 1000 sized company) and\or globally implemented deployment simply will not work.  It may be initially appealing, but without the organization’s Information Technology executives completely owning the environment and its governance, customization, and federation strategy it will be a long-term failure and future migration project (from the external cloud into an internally hosted Private Cloud).

An enterprise SharePoint Server 2010 platform implemented in a Private Cloud, an environment internal to the organization with total control of its servers, permissions \ security, customization and deployment policies, and federation between line-of-business systems and various data sources is the only deployment platform global and large enterprise organization should focus on.

There is a place for a cloud-based SharePoint 2010 deployment in small to medium sized businesses who only mostly require out-of-the-box features and functionality and siloed \ departmental permission strategies. Organizations like these can utilize a cloud-based solution to not only be quickly up and running on a SharePoint 2010 solution but take advantage of the lower cost of ownership.

There may be some folks jumping up and down stating that a SharePoint, cloud-based hosted SharePoint environment, can easily scale to 5,000 or 15,000 users and I don’t doubt it can, but what does “scale to” really mean?  SharePoint 2010 should be implemented as a Service with a Platform \ Hybrid methodology in mind. It will evolve to more than 1 or 2 specific business or functional requirements. It may be a collaboration and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution initially, but will eventually have workflows, executive dashboards \ KPIs, Social Networking, and probably many other capabilities. SharePoint 2010 seamless federation and single sign-on integration with other business systems is a core requirement of many enterprise and global companies.

It is very challenging to federate a hosted SharePoint 2010 solution with your organizations other internally hosted applications and data. It is also a challenge to deploying custom SharePoint-based applications your internal I,T, staff may have built within the cloud.

The SharePoint “App Store” concept is something of beauty but it is limited in scope in a hosted SharePoint cloud. There may be a set of reusable web parts the cloud may offer that may appeal to the masses, like an image rotator web part or commonly applicable solution for Policies and Procedures; simple things like weather or aggregation web parts but they are still mostly limited to data and content within the cloud or data that is publically accessible.

When you are working with business and functional requirements of enterprise and global organizations, you are also going to run across requirements wildcards such as:

  • Countries who have issues with storing data in US-based data centers who must adhere to the Freedom of Information Act as well as the Patriot Act.
  • Organizations who store HIPPA-related data and\or PHI and PII sensitive data.
  • The storage of tax related documents and the way that content must be tracked and secured.
  • The administrative access of the cloud hosting company (as they still can probably give themselves access, if desired, which can open the firm who is hosting their organization’s SharePoint deployment and content there up to possible litigation).
  • Wanting to deploy and host custom applications built on SharePoint within the cloud environment | Deploying custom web parts built internally
  • Federating massive active directory environments to a SharePoint cloud
  • Federating internal data sources and other line of business systems to the external cloud
  • Implementing Executive Dashboards and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that pull from multiple data sources including those that are non-SharePoint based
  • Deploying custom workflows that may have multiple “swim lanes” and may cross and need to access these multiple data sources
  • Managing your organizations future SharePoint Mobile Experience and related "edge devices"
  • Sensitive or Highly sensitive data
    • Both in the private sector as well as in government, there is data that is highly sensitive and possibly top secret. This goes without saying, but you must take your organizations governing laws as well as retention and access control policies into consideration at all times.
    • This includes information security related to applications hosted on the platform for which your data is stored

Myself and my firm at EPC Group have also run across Countries and International Laws that prohibit the storage or access of content outside the borders of their country. We have dealt with this in places such as Germany and many countries in Africa where the ability to search data cannot return results either inside or outside (depending on the scenario, internal or external) of the country.

I believe that the Private Cloud, internally hosted and mostly on virtual platforms, is the only real solution that large enterprise and global organizations should rely on to meet their current and also future I.T. roadmap for SharePoint Server 2010 as its capabilities lead to SharePoint becoming a hybrid ecosystem within most of these organizations.

#SharePointCloud #SharePoint #GlobalConsiderations #ElectronicRecordsManagement #EnterpriseSharePointDeployments