Microsoft has taken great strides over the number of years to build up a robust cloud offering in Office 365. They also realize not every organization wants (or needs) everything in the cloud, so they’ve also ensured an ability for organizations to leverage a hybrid environment where part resides within Office 365 and part resides on-premises.
SharePoint® is no exception. With the capabilities built into both SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online such as cloud hybrid search (both inbound and outbound), hybrid sites, hybrid profiles, and extranet sharing, it’s easy to integrate on-prem farms into SharePoint Online. This makes the partial or completed transition to the cloud relatively seamless.
The Lackluster Side of the Cloud
However, as with the move of any services into the cloud, it’s not all butterflies and rainbows. Even SharePoint Online comes with some trade-offs that must be addressed.
- Control – In general, internal IT has little (or no) control over the infrastructure and, at best, shared control over the implementation. In the case of SharePoint Online, IT only has the ability to control the configuration of their instance of SharePoint.
- Visibility – While even on-prem SharePoint implementations can grow to such large sizes that having visibility over every server, site, library, and file is nearly impossible, the cloud adds an extra layer of obfuscation, because the servers are no longer under IT control.
- Manageability - Managing both requires experience in both as well. Sure, it’s SharePoint on the front end, but in the interest of simplifying the management experience for less-than-very-proficient SharePoint pros, Microsoft has “simplified” some tasks in SharePoint Online, taking away some capabilities, and streamlining others.
The Real Problem with Hybrid SharePoint
All of these trade-offs culminate into a single overarching problem for those organizations seeking to live in a hybrid SharePoint world. The use of SharePoint is outstanding, but the ongoing management becomes a more difficult task. To be clear, it’s not the day-to-day management – like setting up a site, or modifying permissions – that takes more work. It’s the management of SharePoint that needs to be addressed as the business needs change – merging of sites, searching for and centralizing disparate (and often redundant) repositories of data, compliance- and audit-related activities, and the like.
Because of the lack of, specifically, visibility and manageability when using a hybrid SharePoint environment, these already taxing administrative functions in an on-prem world, now multiply in difficulty.
So, how do you make ongoing management of a hybrid SharePoint environment easier?
For starters, you need to recognize that Microsoft isn’t in the business of keeping you hybrid. Nothing wrong with their stance, but it does set the tone for what kind of assistance you can expect from them. As always, Microsoft provides toolsets, services, and administrative capabilities to get the environment running and to handle the day-to-day. So, the day you acquire a company with a SharePoint Online instance and need to take that data and merge it with an already existing site that is, say, on-prem, you already know native tools simply won’t cover it.
While I’d love to have a native tools answer, the complexity of the tasks (as exemplified by the merge project previously mentioned) would involve a manual discovery and rationalization of the data, more than your share of custom PowerShell scripting, and potentially weeks of time to complete. Third-party solutions exist to automate the entire process of not only scenarios where you need to merge sites, but every kind of management task that may need to be repeated or will span tens or hundreds of SharePoint sites. These include the ensuring of consistent configurations and security, auditing of access, adherence to compliance mandates, and more.
So, while the user benefits of moving to SharePoint Online certainly are attractive, it’s important to understand that managing a hybrid environment will involve additional complexities and will likely require additional help with solutions like DocAuto’s SPorganizer™ solution. SPorganizer makes SharePoint environments easy to use, less expensive to manage, and allows you to make enterprise-wide changes in minutes whether you have on online, on-premises, or hybrid environment.
Interested in learning more? Schedule a demo of SPorganizer today!
SPorganizer is a trademark of DocAuto, Inc. SharePoint is a registered trademark of Microsoft.