Reading through the summary of this morning’s #CollabTalk tweetjam, there was some healthy discussion around the role that hybrid is playing, and will continue to play, in the era of the cloud. One thing for sure – there is no longer a question floating out there about whether or not Microsoft will release another on prem version of SharePoint. SharePoint Server 2016 is coming later this year, and we’re going to hear all about it at Ignite in May. Already, the messaging is coming out of Redmond – albeit in a much softer tone – about the push toward the cloud. With this push, many organizations are once again considering the state of their enterprise collaboration environments, and contemplating their options for improving communication and content sharing across the organization.
Let’s be honest: for many organizations, the move to SharePoint 2010 still feels relatively recent (and it may have been very recent). For them, until a strong business case can be made for moving to the latest version, they're focused on getting the most out of their current investments. For many other organizations, they’ve made the decision to move to 2013, are moving, or have made the move. The question will nop0w be: what’s the value of moving to 2016? We have very little information so far, but if the primary thrust of this release will be more advanced tools for operating a hybrid environment, taking advantage of many of the Office 365 (and Azure-based) capabilities while maintaining the security of holding their data locally (on prem), it will be a fairly compelling story around 2016. Maybe even more compelling than 2013 was/is IMO.
For those who may have made the jump to the latest version of SharePoint (2013), whether online or on premises, more than likely the process of moving was less than ideal. Migrations can be messy. Some aspects can be (and should be) driven by the end users, but if your environment contains any degree of complexity, your move was probably more of a centralized effort. Migrations are an iterative process. But migrations are also an opportunity to reorganize, to clean up and restart your governance strategy (or to put a missing strategy in place), and to establish more robust change management practices based on your extensive and seasoned experience with SharePoint.
This time of transition is also an opportunity to re-establish your information architecture, clean up and organize your site topology, your taxonomy, your content types and templates. I just published an article over on CMSWire that makes the case for re-evaluating and refreshing your information architecture. In fact, I’ll be talking much more on this topic, with GTconsult having just signed a partnership with South Africa-based Firestring, who offer Serendipity for SharePoint to help automate the identification of metadata in your content as it is added to SharePoint.
I know I’ve written about this topic at length, but as you start thinking about making the transition the the cloud, hybrid will likely be part of your planning discussions. My guidance is that you should remember that there are many differences between how content and systems can be managed on prem versus in the cloud. For example, if your plan is to keep SharePoint on prem for your intranet, but utilize SharePoint Online for a customer or partner extranet, activities like permissions management are different between the platforms. Some reports available on prem are not available online, and without a third-party solution to centralize this activity, you will need to maintain them separately -- which means more overhead, and more governance oversight. Of course, if a hybrid SharePoint environment is the right path forward for your organization, remember that there are some fantastic tools available to help you manage and automate. Lots of options out there today, even more on their way via SharePoint Server 2016, with details coming at Ignite in May. Hope to see you there!