Collab365 Community were recently added to the long list of sponsors of the Hybrid SharePoint research project being conducted by CollabTalk and the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University, and sponsored by Microsoft, PixelMill, B&R Business Solutions, and several other leading Microsoft partners – including Collab365. This entire effort is being led by Office Servers and Services MVP Christian Buckley, who serves as Chief Marketing Officer and Evangelist for Beezy, and is the founder of CollabTalk. With just under a week to go before the survey closes (March 22nd), we reached out to Christian to share some details around the survey, and why he organized this independent research effort.
If you are unsure of what hybrid is or want to understand how it can be used, then check out 'The Ultimate Guide to Hybrid SharePoint' by Nick Brattoli.
So what did Christian have to tell us?
Mark Jones: Christian, how did this project come about? Maybe you can share some of the background.
Christian Buckley: My interest in putting data around hybrid actually goes back a few years. Back in 2001, I was hired by a well-funded startup called E2open to build a hosted collaboration platform (called Collaboration Manager), and as the platform went live, I moved from a product role to building out the company’s first deployment team. Working with a number of huge customers like Hitachi, Matsushita, and Seagate taught me a lot the difficulties of moving enterprise workloads to the cloud.
I joined Microsoft in 2006 as part of the Microsoft Managed Services (MMS) team, which became Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) and then finally re-branded as Office 365. In my first few weeks on the job, I was sent out to Connecticut to work with a customer to help them make the transition to our platform, and it was a painful project. It wasn’t just that the technology wasn’t yet ready for prime time – people rebelled against the idea of moving their data to servers that were outside of their control.
So here we are 11 years later, and the technology has evolved so much. While there are still some concerns about moving a company’s intellectual property to the cloud, there is cultural momentum behind the move. The goal of this research is to identify – and quantify – the areas where people still have concerns around moving to the cloud, but to also put data around the number of organizations who view hybrid SharePoint as a *strategy*, as opposed to those who believe they have no other choice but to deploy hybrid solutions.
Mark: So your research is not just for those people who are actively using hybrid SharePoint solutions?
Christian: We definitely want to know what hybrid solutions customers are leveraging, for sure, but we also want to hear from people who are on-prem and plan to stay on-prem, or who are bypassing hybrid and going straight to the cloud. We want to understand the reasoning behind each of these constituencies, and slice and dice the data.
Mark: Do you expect to see much of a difference in data between these groups?
Christian: Definitely. The enterprise has always been a laggard when it comes to major technology changes, so I expect their concerns to be very different from the companies that had no problem making the jump to the cloud. For example, I would expect to see migration and security very high on the list of concerns of enterprises who have not started the transition to the cloud, where these issues will rank much lower for cloud-based customers. But I want to see definitive data behind these assumptions. With respondents in 45 different countries (so far, we’re seeing more than 60% of responses coming from outside the US), one-third are reporting active use of hybrid SharePoint solutions, almost 50% are completely on-prem, with the remainder of companies entirely in the cloud. Our final research report will show the motivations and concerns for each group.
Mark: What would you say the drivers are for moving to a hybrid solution?
Christian: Well, the number one reason you hear from people who are making the move to the cloud is cost savings, but that may not apply to hybrid. In my experience, the organizations utilizing hybrid have concerns about security or governance, and hybrid is a way that allows them to maintain the control they require while taking advantage of the latest cloud features.
Mark: Since you brought it up, is hybrid less secure vs on-prem vs online? And is data sovereignty really an issue?
Christian: I’m not an infrastructure or data security expert, but generally speaking, the more moving parts you have to a system, the greater number of points of failure. As with any enterprise system, you should understand the risks versus the rewards. With proper planning, you mitigate the risks – or decide that the costs outweigh the benefits. Having said that, I would trust my intellectual property in a Microsoft data center over a server farm maintained by my IT department any day. Data sovereignty is a slightly different issue, where the government has decided that data must be handled a certain way. Look at Germany as an example. I’m sure there are plenty of customers there who would be fine with hosting their content on Microsoft servers across the border, however they don’t have a choice because the government has established rules. Microsoft is working to solve these sovereignty issues – and has opened a data center in Germany to offer a “sovereign cloud” option to that market.
Mark: And one from our perspective as an ISV -- How many 3rd party apps don’t yet work in SharePoint Online? (I bet it’s more than we think)
Christian: Yes, I agree. Obviously, I don’t have numbers on that, but you’ve touched on another major driver for hybrid. The customers who have spent years building out SharePoint on-prem likely have a number of those 3rd party apps and tools that have become essential to their business. While Microsoft is innovating for the cloud first, many of the cool features being delivered are net-new to the platform, and do not necessarily map to these 3rd party solutions, or other customizations that companies have built themselves. It will take time for some companies to transition away from them – if they ever transition away. There are organizations still running COBOL-based platforms built in the 1980’s and updated for Y2K, believe it or not.
I’m a big believer in the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Hybrid is a way to leverage the best from both worlds. The problem is when organizations don’t understand the management overhead sometimes required to maintain a hybrid environment.
Mark: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, Christian. We’re looking forward to the research results.
Christian: Thanks Mark, and thanks again to your team for sponsoring this initiative.