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The 2015 Enterprise Flight Path – Will Microsoft Ignite or Combust in the Cloud?

By Marc Solomon posted 04-02-2015 03:24


Hey You ... With the Cloud in Your Eyes

A little over a month from now the partisan faithful will gather under a sprawling Microsoft tent in Chicago and high-five to the pulsing thump of post enterprise Microsoft -- a mighty convergence of comforting office apps served over slick interfaces that can be reconfigured as no code solutions by single sign-on citizen developers. The fireworks will meet the sky. But will the rubber meet the road map? That taste of tomorrow will be channeled through the unencumbered lens of no-risk adoptees -- start-up enterprises consisting of some scattered on-prem assets and the promise of blue sky migration along a faster, cheaper, less trodden path of upgrades.

It's always an awkward moment when Microsoft sneaks O365 into the on-prem agenda under the cover of recommended practices. There's a Visual Studio for the masses called Napa that's always game for writing and testing new business solutions across the app model-enabled enterprise. That's the business-as-usual-in-the-way-you’ve-always-wished-for projection that Microsoft could hold out in Chicago to their insatiable ecosystem. Come to the cloud and we'll...

  • Fast track your way up the maturity model ladder.
  • Pick-up all the laundered file shares you left for drying out in Dropbox.
  • Bridge the gap between the build potentials your power users are promised and resources they're given to fulfill them. 

That 3rd point is not just a dig in the ribs. It's the reality of cloud adoption. According to a February AIIM survey nearly half of all enterprises are either dismissive or undecided on their SharePoint-in-the-cloud plans. That lukewarm reception isn’t yet primed – even for the auditioning stage of the post-prem adoption cycle

Outsourced ... or Out-of-Sight?

To be horizon-focused as an enterprise these days is to be in doubt that organizations have found their footing between supporting legacy portfolios, implementing current upgrades, and integrating the two wherever feasible. That doubt swells to a gnawing denial when terms like 'enterprise' and 'legacy' or 'portfolio' or (heaven forbid) 'SharePoint' are absent from the Office 365 brand, if not experience.

Sometimes it's hard to know whose horizon-gazing is more realistic -- the Microsoft visionaries who want to bring the virtues of the commercial internet world we leverage beyond our VPNs or the incrementalists manning the change controls in our organizations. Put in a more public way, corporate legal units are likelier to indemnify the misdeeds of some former disgruntled employee than risk the kingly ransoms of the Targets, TJ Maxxes, Home Depots, and Anthem Healthcare: Breeches we've come to know, expect, (and pray we’re spared from). There is a line in the sand for those trespasses into our phone and wallets. It's called the enterprise firewall, and Microsoft ignores this airtight boundary at its own peril.

Kicking and Screaming into the Cloud

It's hard for the most intractable IT groups not to flirt with earlier-than-expected adoption of SaaS-flavored Microsoft. When those Office 365 demos are going off without a glitch, the temptation is great to leave the lapsed credentials of deletion-shy users in the dust. That’s a big write-off under the most lenient of depreciations. But does the surrender of infrastructure constitute a long-term investment or even a pay-off in the short-run?

How much of the buoyant payoff of instant updates, all-you-can-meter licensing, and off-sourced hosting is left when the road show ends is not a question most enterprises are not comfortable raising -- let alone settling. And that's not Stone Age mentality at work or blatant self-preservation. The melding of Microsoft's footprints into its customers’ blueprints requires a level of control still unaffordable in the wake of big data security concerns, the sunk costs of prior upgrades, and a hornet’s nest of known issues – the flash-points where business continuity issues tend to fester.

Inevitability Factors

What is clear is an absence of a credible challenger to Redmond. The result is that Microsoft continues to drag its feet when it comes to treating the investments of its on-prem customers as assets to manage and not baggage to shed. Customers will need to revisit a storehouse of workarounds and customizations whose importance belies the fact that developers are fixers, not archivists. All that patchwork programming will find unfriendly accommodations in the cloud -- unless that cloud is float resistant and tethered to the rule bound authorities it flies over.

Granted, this is not the same all-powerful incumbent vendor that once dictated adoption cycles so convincingly it was nearly broken up by the feds. What could be more humbling or self-aware of a company that's about to kill off the same brand it used to marshal its forces against the open source forces of Netscape? The browser wars prompted a call for battle (and the anti-trust litigation in the first place)! There’s no such inflection point today.

Still it wouldn't be a bad idea to embrace the business-facing view of us Microsoft shops and not pretend the relationship can be rebooted one browser at a time. Microsoft has become more adaptive, perhaps even innovative over four build cycles of SharePoint. One way we've never seen Microsoft go is viral. No one expects it. And us enterprise customers are not exactly clamoring for it either. Meeting us halfway on-premises will go a long way to securing a future in the cloud for both of us.

#EnterpriseContentManagement #SaaS #securitybreeches #onpremisis #userconference #marketingstrategy #Adoption #InformationGovernance #SharePoint #surveydata #Migration #voiceofcustomer



04-23-2015 08:57

Thanks for the pointer, Mike. Curious that the new messaging was 2 parts cyber-security to one part app-building consumerization. I suppose it reinforces the "on" premise that Microsoft reacts to enterprise IT more than it leads with game-changing innovation.

04-18-2015 10:24

Mark - did the Microsoft blog discussion this week of the continued presence of SharePoint on-premise, even with the delay of SharePoint Server 2016, do anything to alleviate your concerns about on-premise SharePoint being left behind? Mike Alsup