Drawing up an Optimal Plan for Your SharePoint On-Premises Deployment
Companies have many reasons to keep their server-based SharePoint deployments. Some businesses stick to SharePoint On-Premises because they want to take full control over their implementations; others want to save their investments into the SharePoint infrastructure and licenses. Organizations also often prefer SharePoint On-Premises to the cloud owing to its customization flexibility and functional richness.
At the same time, owners of SharePoint On-Premises go through hard choices. On the one hand, SharePoint Online, Office 365 and Microsoft 365 lure them to give up on server-based solutions and move to the cloud. On the other hand, poured effort and mistrust to the cloud makes these companies stay on-premises and customize SharePoint solutions to ever-growing business needs and users’ expectations.
So if your company runs a SharePoint On-Premises deployment, you might feel doubtful about your perspectives and future steps to take. Let’s see what options you have depending on your current SharePoint version, budget, and the platform’s role in your enterprise.
Option 1. Keeping Your Deployment as Is
You might think that the only reason to choose this option is a lack of resources. In reality, companies can have several reasons to leave their SharePoint On-Premises deployments unchanged.
- SharePoint functions well and fits your needs. For example, if your custom document management solution based on SharePoint 2010 operates stably and supports uninterrupted document workflows across the company, you can keep it up and running.
- Nobody forces you to use only the latest software versions. You can safely keep your current deployment if you don’t need to comply with regulations that demand you to migrate.
- You use SharePoint 2013 or 2016. With two latest SharePoint versions, your company is on the safe side. Both of them get regular updates and offer extensive sets of features for building custom enterprise solutions.
Who is at risk? Older SharePoint versions (2003, 2007, 2010) put their owners in a risky zone. Companies have to spend substantial effort on tuning these platforms while they can get the same functionality out-of-the-box in SharePoint 2013 or 2016. For example, you get default community and project sites starting from SharePoint 2013, but you need to customize SharePoint 2007 to get these types of sites. To add more, older SharePoint often faces poor user adoption due to outdated look and feel and lack of features, which urges SharePoint owners to follow one of the next two scenarios.
Option 2. Planning an On-Premises Migration
You can plan a migration to the higher SharePoint On-Premises version to refresh your deployment and build more powerful and user-friendly solutions. Such a migration is reasonable in several situations.
- Your SharePoint solution lacks necessary features. When you understand that the existing deployment doesn’t keep in step with your business growth, you have to upgrade it. This is the right path towards richer functionality, easier scalability, and customization of your solutions.
- Your solution’s performance and user adoption decrease. When SharePoint becomes sluggish and cumbersome to use, don’t delay the migration. Such a movement will help you prevent the solution’s rejection and will allow you to get a ‘healthier’ and a more attractive collaboration hub.
- You don’t want or can’t migrate to the cloud. If you aren’t ready for major changes in your SharePoint deployment, if you run deeply customized on-premises solutions or can’t host your sensitive data in the cloud, on-premises migration is the right choice for you.
What are your biggest challenges? First, multistep migrations from older SharePoint versions can be painful. To perform a three-step migration from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2016, you’ll need a professional SharePoint team. Second, you should not only migrate a SharePoint solution, but also improve it by adding new features or redesigning its components. Otherwise, such a migration will bring little advantage to the enterprise.
Option 3. Considering a Cloud Migration
Finally, the most radical step will be switching from an on-premises deployment to the cloud one. This scenario can suit you in the following situations.
- Your on-premises deployment is too large for your organization. Moving to the cloud can be reasonable for smaller companies that want to get rid of the server-based SharePoint infrastructure and minimize their effort on customizing and maintaining their solutions.
- You need a deeply collaborative solution. Adopting Office 365, companies get the opportunity to use a variety of productivity and collaboration apps, including SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, and Planner, to coordinate activities of different departments and teams.
- You trust the cloud. If you feel confident about storing your data and managing your business processes in the cloud, you can switch to the Microsoft cloud completely. You can also plan a hybrid model to take advantage of both deployments simultaneously.
What are possible pitfalls? If you consider migrating to the cloud from an older SharePoint version, you have to be ready for a complex migration process. Since the difference between older SharePoint On-Premises and the modern cloud is impressive, migration will require deep technical expertise as well as new management and usage approaches.
Why Planning the SharePoint Future is Important?
SharePoint is the core of enterprise collaboration that connects employees across an organization and ensures smooth business workflows. As soon as it starts to lag behind your business pace and users’ expectations, it can affect critical working processes and productivity of entire teams and departments. A timely migration and tuning of your current on-premises solution can help you prevent collaboration jams and communication ruptures, as well as make your entire deployment more cost-effective in the long run.
About the Author:
Sandra Lupanava is SharePoint and Office 365 Evangelist at Itransition, a software development and IT consulting company headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Today, Alexandra focuses on the SharePoint and Office 365 capabilities, challenges that companies face while adopting these collaboration-driven platforms, as well as shares practical tips on how to improve SharePoint and Office 365 solutions and take maximum benefit out of them. Employee-centric collaboration and productivity solutions with positive user adoption, cost-effective SharePoint, Office 365 and Microsoft 365 deployments are key topics that Sandra covers in her articles.