SharePoint Online, Hybrid or On-Premises: Making SharePoint 2016 work for you

SharePoint Online, Hybrid or On-Premises: Making SharePoint 2016 work for you

Microsoft has finally announced the general release of SharePoint 2016 featuring SharePoint Online, Hybrid and On-Premises. With this release comes the latest features of tech giant’s storage and collaboration platform.

Our post today will look at a number of the new features and investigate what many CIOs and IT directors have likely been contemplating up until now (and will continue to think about beyond this release)—if you are thinking about a migration to SharePoint 2016, what is the best option for your organisation? It’s the SharePoint Online vs On-Premises vs Hybrid debate.

SharePoint Online vs On-Premises vs Hybrid: The Online option

It seems like talk recently is all about the Cloud, so if you’re considering SharePoint Online, you’re certainly not alone. Moving your platform online, you will reduce your IT infrastructure to its minimal; reducing operational costs without compromising on function. A great option for any large, or small, company looking to keep overheads low while remaining competitive and getting set-up rapidly.

Always the latest and greatest software on your evergreen platform

With SharePoint Online, you automatically get the very latest version of the software and its additions. Microsoft do the hard work for you, so that means no more patches and upgrade maintenance, allowing you to focus on what’s important for your business.

No more cost to upgrade

You buy a licence for SharePoint Online and that’s it. You don’t have to pay for any upgrades or ‘new versions’ that come automatically, meaning you can realistically set your IT budgets and not have to worry about resources expiring or adding an unexpected cost.

Move your content only once

When you move your content to SharePoint Online, you do so ‘for life’. There’s no time limit on how long you have to stay until you need to move to the next new version – unlike the on-premises versions where you will need to upgrade (with all the costs and hassle) every three to five years.  Imagine what your IT department could do with the extra time, expense and stress they’ll save.

SharePoint Online – better together

By utilising the power of the Cloud you get all the value of the other online tools and solutions from Office 365: Exchange Online, Skype for Business, Yammer and more all talk to each other better in the Cloud. All the wiring, all the plumbing, all the backend IT is taken care of by Microsoft – so again you can just plug in and go.

Bottom line: SharePoint Online option is the simplest and quickest way to get to value the fastest. 

SharePoint Online vs On-Premises vs Hybrid: The Hybrid option

Let’s not ‘beat around the bush’, of the SharePoint Online vs On-Premises vs Hybrid debate, SharePoint Hybrid is going to be the reality for most organisations for the coming years. The reason for this is that most companies already have a lot of data On-Premises in existing SharePoint investments. What will happen here is that they will set up the online version and put the new content online, but will still have the old stuff On-Premises. The challenge for the IT department will be trying to work with the business to figure out what content is important to keep, what should be archived and what they can discard.

Sensitive Data

You might be a business who has signed contracts with your clients promising to keep sensitive content and data on your private servers. Therefore, you’ll need to retain at least a small SharePoint on-premises farm that will contain content ‘in house’ and the rest of your data—your general content, internal projects, HR policies, and day to day, etc.—can live in SharePoint Online.

This will reduce your server structure considerably and enable you to reduce costs, and simplify your IT infrastructure – a big win.

Unified App launcher

This can be synchronised between  SharePoint Online and On-Premises. If the user is on the On-Premises SharePoint and clicks on Office 365 or Delve, it will go seamlessly to the online version of SharePoint, making it simple for users to navigate between environments.

Synchronised follow sites

When you click on the ‘follow’ site button, these will sync between On-Premises and online; and all will appear in followed sites list. A big boost for ease of use and finding the sites you visit the most.

Cloud hybrid search

Perhaps the biggest new feature within the 2016 release is the general availability of cloud hybrid search for SharePoint On-Premises 2013 and beyond (i.e. 2016) allowing both On-Premises and Office 365 content to be found in the same search result. A report by IDC found that people spend one day a week – 8 hours – searching for documents, people and information. Having a single, unified search in place could be one of the biggest time savers for your business.

SharePoint 2016 feature packs

Another update worthy of mention is Microsoft’s plan to make some of the advanced features of SharePoint 2016 available as ‘feature packs’ for 2013 (and possibly 2010) iterations. Older versions of SharePoint will be able to avail of the latest great features—you could have a SharePoint 2013 farm, SharePoint 2016, and SharePoint Online, and with the feature pack you could have a unified App Launcher and navigation system that works with all three farms.

Document library changes

Microsoft have used real-user statistics to determine what buttons people use most from the millions and millions of OneDrive consumer users and the functions they don’t use at all, and simplified the SharePoint document library interface based on these stats. The benefit here is that this could be released in a feature pack so this interface change could be applied to on premises 2013 SharePoint farms – so from a user point of view, the content can be 2013, 2016 On-Premises and Online and the document libraries will all look and feel the same.   This makes collaboration easier and there is less user resistance to change.

Bottom line: One of the promises of SharePoint 2016 is the option to stay On-Premises for core content while still benefiting from the advanced and new functionality provide by SharePoint Online. Not sure about a full move online or want to slowly introduce your company to the process? Hybrid is the option for you.

SharePoint Online vs On-Premises vs Hybrid: The On-Premises only option

The On-Premises option should only really be considered if you are a company that has a very real reason to stay On-Premises and also deep pockets. You will have to be willing to invest in longer ongoing costs, taking care of your own patching, harbouring your own upgrades and maintaining a big server farm.

You will always be behind on the latest features and you’re not going to have the full power of the likes of Delve, Graph, or Office 365 working the way they will together with the Online or Hybrid option.

Bottom line: You need a big bank balance, but you do have complete control on your SharePoint estate and your content.

No one size fits all

Often, when faced with a decision like whether to migrate to a new version of SharePoint or to choose what option is best for your business when weighing up the SharePoint Online vs On-Premises vs Hybrid debate, contemplating the needs of your employees for advanced collaboration, your budget, as well as the security and compliance necessities of your organisation can be a challenge.  Keep in mind is that Microsoft understand the different circumstances that various companies face when contemplating a move, and that’s why they are concentrating their efforts on making a move to both the Cloud and Hybrid versions of SharePoint 2016 as easy as possible.

So if you can’t make up your mind whether to make the move, these advanced features packs may be the perfect bridge to take your collaboration and productivity to the next level without having to commit fully to a large migration of your data, or at least give you an idea of whether a full migration is the right option for your company.

Content+Cloud can inform your decision

Ultimately, the choice of what version of SharePoint you will deploy depends on multiple factors; but this newest release is a commitment from Microsoft to take the wide variety of circumstances into consideration – a SharePoint for almost every set of circumstances.

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