SharePoint 2016 implementation considerations

What's best for your organization?

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For quite some time, I've been told that I'm more of a traditional type of guy in both my personal and professional lives -- and I believe that I am. I find it rewarding and relaxing knowing that I have traditional styles that are noticed and respected. Especially in my personal life, traditional works very well for me and I find no reason to change. But in my professional life, being or staying traditional may not cut it, because of how fast technology changes and how important it is to keep up with it so you won't be left behind.

When this cloud "thing" came along, I was hesitant about using it because one of the primary things -- if not THE primary thing -- that I am used to as a traditional IT pro is control. Yeah, IT pros are generally control freaks, and that is not meant in a derogatory way whatsoever. We have to be, because at the end of the day if something happens to an application or data within an application, it is our job to make sure we are able to "fix" it.

Initially, Office 365 freaked me out (and, well, sometimes it still does), but it has a lot to offer and it has advantages over the traditional on-premises deployment of software: lower costs, access anytime from anywhere, simple to learn and use, one-stop shopping for normal everyday tasks or activities, access to new features faster, and ease of administrative management.

When using Office 365's SharePoint Online, the "ease of administrative management" is where I get stuck. Remember, I'm a traditional guy, so I like to be in control of my software, and although SharePoint Online has so many benefits, I also lose control. So for me (and I did say for me, not for the company or organization), I freak out because I have limited control of the farm-level administration of SharePoint Online. In fact, my job as the SharePoint Online administrator is only at the site-collection level.

So, after several sessions with a therapist, I realized I don't have to be a control freak to be a successful IT pro. With all of the benefits of SharePoint Online, and the idea that SharePoint should empower end users, I realized this is a good time to relinquish some control, free up some time, and reap the benefits of what SharePoint Online has to offer.

This release of control with SharePoint does require that you and everyone else, from the end users up to the C-suite, completely understand which responsibilities are being shifted from the IT pro to the end users, and everyone needs to understand the advantages and disadvantages of SharePoint Online. Whoa, did I just say disadvantages?

Yes I did, because in addition to losing control of the deployment, maintenance and configuration at the SharePoint farm level, you also have limited customizations you can deploy, increased network traffic (meaning you need to regularly analyze and monitor bandwidth utilization) and quicker access to new features.

Yes, I also listed quicker access to new features as an advantage, but it can also be a disadvantage. Because when Microsoft releases a new feature in SharePoint Online, you can’t pick and choose whether you want it and when you want it -- it's just there, and it may not fit what you are, or were, doing with SharePoint.

Oh, by the way, Microsoft chooses when to deprecate features too, so one day you may discover something you were using is no longer available. All SharePoint changes, including new features, deprecated features or cosmetic changes, are deployed through SharePoint Online first, and then are released to SharePoint on-premises.

Now of course there is another option, which I find the most fitting, and that is a hybrid solution of SharePoint. You have your highly customized and secure information on-premises, and your normal everyday collaboration needs moved to SharePoint Online.

The great news is that with SharePoint 2016, Microsoft has made it easier than ever to create and configure a hybrid solution, and this is why a lot of companies are leaning toward a SharePoint hybrid implementation that provides the best of both worlds. Control and manage the information you're most concerned with on-prem, and release control of the less confidential, everyday information into SharePoint Online.

If you want additional information on planning for SharePoint Online, visit this site. If the hybrid solution for SharePoint 2016 sounds intriguing, please check out this site. Regardless of which approach you choose, remember this decision should be based on what's best for the organization, not you.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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