Microsoft has clearly favored promoting SharePoint Online over on-premises SharePoint. However, the age of SharePoint 2016 on-premises is fast approaching, bringing tighter integration with Office 365/SharePoint Online.
Microsoft explains the value this way:
- SharePoint Online is part of a Go-to Office Anywhere.
- Microsoft is responsible for the infrastructure and application upgrades and changes.
- Security is built into SharePoint Online, and in the near future it will include content encryption.
- SharePoint Online is feature-rich and integrated with the Office 365 ecosystem, which includes the Office Suite, Yammer, Power BI, and more.
Indeed, using SharePoint Online is compelling. The reduced time, effort and costs for infrastructure alone can provide a return on investment for many organizations. Still, many organizations ignore some critical considerations before moving to SharePoint Online:
- Does all of your content even belong in SharePoint Online? In reality, no medium to large sized organization can, or will, move all content to SharePoint Online. Legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements will make it difficult to move all content to SharePoint Online.
- Can SharePoint Online support your internal business processes? Many companies are moving simple collaboration sites to SharePoint Online, but what about custom built applications that integrate with internal systems as part of business processes?
- Will SharePoint Online resolve findability and sprawl problems? In and of itself, it will be just as easy to have the same issues in SharePoint Online that currently exist with SharePoint on-premises.
- Can I custom-brand SharePoint Online? Branding SharePoint Online is more difficult than branding SharePoint on-premises, as branding changes online may be broken by Microsoft updates.
The reality is that in most cases, only smaller companies will move to a pure SharePoint Online environment. If an organization is not ready to fully commit to SharePoint online because of legal/privacy concerns for some data, custom applications that are too difficult to move to Cloud, or for other reasons, there are two options.
A hybrid model is one in which SharePoint Online is used for some purposes and content, and SharePoint on-premises is used for other purposes and content. For SharePoint 2016, the path ahead is a hybrid one - where the on-premises version is extended by cloud-only features, with the value of shifting from on-premises to cloud over time escalating as the path widens.
The Hybrid Value of SharePoint
On January 20, 2016, Microsoft announced that SharePoint Server 2016 and Project Server 2016 Release Candidate were available.
Building on Microsoft's announcement of SharePoint Server 2016 Beta 2 in November 2015, Microsoft was pleased to announce the availability of SharePoint Server 2016 Release Candidate (RC).
SharePoint Server 2016 RC is mostly feature complete and represents an important milestone for customers looking to deploy and evaluate SharePoint Server 2016 before general availability in Spring 2016.
As Microsoft shares: The collaboration and communication platform that helps organizations worldwide achieve more is SharePoint. And with a hybrid deployment of SharePoint, enterprises can be connected from almost anywhere to the resources and content need to collaborate and function at peak efficiency.
To date, over 5,000 customers have downloaded the SharePoint Server 2016 previews, which, through Microsoft customer feedback, resulted in a high-quality Release Candidate. SharePoint Server 2016 is Microsoft's most reliable, scalable, secure and high-performant server release ever. With built-in hybrid cloud capabilities, it is a premier choice for organizations looking to take advantage of the latest innovations in Microsoft Cloud offerings while also maintaining critical content or custom applications on-premises.
SharePoint Server 2016 will help organizations unlock breakthrough performance and resiliency as well as quickly build solutions and extend data across on-premises and Office 365 with the confidence that their data will be safe and secure.