Evolution Conference Roadshow: SharePoint 2013 vs. Office 365, Who Should Stay and Who Should Go?

In case you are living under a rock, this topic is hot right
now. Independent SharePoint Consultant Nigel
Price
was kind enough to lend his expert opinion in the second session I
attended in Cardiff. The first thing he asked was: “What is the ideal
SharePoint environment?” According to Nigel, it’s a trick question; the ideal
environment doesn’t exist. There will always be drawbacks no matter what you
do. The task then is to figure out what is the closest to ideal environment
that you can use and manage. It also comes down to what your business wants and
needs. Do you want the latest and greatest? Do you want to be able to keep your
legacy systems? Do you want to make the most of a small budget? What about
network speed? As you can see, there are a number of considerations that vary
from company to company.

So what are the benefits of Office 365?  It’s cheap when
considering the whole picture: there is no need to have space in a data center,
no need to have the staff to manage the infrastructure, no need to have in
house servers, etc. There is also a lot of maintenance that is taken care of
Microsoft. Specifically, you get patches and upgrades automatically, backups
are done for you, and the availability is likely better than you can provide
yourself.

Remember what I said about always having drawbacks? As can
be predicted, there are a few with Office
365
. You get patches and updates automatically… WITHOUT warning and without
any notion of what they are going to be. It has become commonplace for people
to come into the office in the morning and find their site is broken because of
an update. Since you don’t get a choice of installation, you have to just live
with it. Another thing you have to deal with is when search runs. It runs when
it runs, meaning you might upload files and they may not show up in search for
a day or more depending on the crawl settings (which you can’t see). Office 365 also does not allow custom
site templates. Are you a person that likes to make a few templates then choose
from those?  Too bad, with Office 365 you can’t.

At this point in time, most people are pretty familiar with
the pros and cons of on-premises SharePoint. To summarize: it’s more expensive
and more involved to build/service/maintain, but allows you almost infinite
control. So what about the hybrid environment, which is a mix of both? You get
the benefits of having someone else do the back-end maintenance and the larger
scope of control with updates, etc., but you still have to build the site in
the first place.  Likewise, it’s only marginally
cheaper since you are still maintaining an on-premises environment.

When choosing the right SharePoint for your organization, the
decision will come down to what your business needs are. Can your business keep
up with the rapid changes that come with Office
365
? Do you need to maintain a legacy system and/or keep your third party
applications? Nigel had some helpful recommendations and suggestions. For one,
customization is not a good idea with Office
365
.  Additionally, usage reporting
is rather sparse. Storage is limited with Office
365
and it is taking a long time for Microsoft to get all of its Business
Intelligence running in the cloud. A hybrid solution could be the best of both
worlds (we are certainly seeing that at the moment), but it should be clear
that it is the hardest to set up.

So while it’s never a win-win, there are some clear
differences that could lead you to a decision. Nigel’s final piece of advice
was to include all the stakeholders in the decision, focus on security, and
think long-term.

Are you thinking of switching to Office 365?  Bamboo Solutions
is curious as to what YOU think – When it comes to SharePoint 2013 vs. Office
365, Who Should Stay and Who Should Go? 
To help understand and drive the market, we encourage you to take a few
moments to take our
survey on the future of SharePoint

Please note that this survey is being conducted Bamboo Solutions and
has nothing to do with Nigel Price or any of his affiliates.


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