Why Hybrid SharePoint Isn't Halfway to the Cloud
Despite a strong push or desire by organizations to move to the cloud, 2015 will undoubtedly be the year that many organizations move to a hybrid SharePoint environment. And that’s where the confusion begins. The term “hybrid SharePoint” can mean different things depending on how you choose to adopt the cloud.
Everyone from Microsoft to third-party cloud hosting providers offer differing definitions of hybrid SharePoint. For me, it means running SharePoint on-premises and in the cloud leveraging Office 365/SharePoint Online, third-party hosting providers, or simply running SharePoint with your favorite IaaS provider.
Ultimately hybrid SharePoint is a safer approach as organizations already have long tail plans to move to the cloud when the time is right. And hybrid solutions allow organizations to provision new workloads or start moving existing workloads to the cloud. For many organizations the long-term goal is to move as many workloads to the cloud as possible. Hybrid SharePoint offers these organizations additional flexibility and granularity that allows teams to move, manage and secure one or several workloads.
In addition, a new practice is emerging which sees SharePoint admins using the cloud to create new workloads in test environments that will eventually replace their current workloads. While this involves more effort, it’s a clean and practical approach that provides SharePoint professionals with an option eliminates the legacy dependencies that occur when moving existing workloads to the cloud.
As you can see, hybrid SharePoint has many meanings. For one admin, it might mean embracing Office 365 as a way to collaborate with external users or trading partners. For another, it could mean offloading critical workloads to better support a mobile workforce. Yet, the one overriding observation that we can take from all of this is that for many the hybrid cloud is considered a halfway step to the cloud.
In short, it isn’t.
SharePoint admins need to treat hybrid solutions as cloud solutions. Why? Hybrid changes organizations just as much as a full cloud solution. Cloud isn’t just another blade in a storage farm, it’s an externally hosted service that comes with additional risks, management responsibilities and compliance standards. That means that a vast majority of the best practices that SharePoint admins use today on-premises won’t translate to hybrid SharePoint environment.
If on-premises best practices are used on hybrid deployments, you assume the risk.
When companies move any single system over to any cloud, they must revisit their best practices and consider the new dynamic of living in the cloud. Backups, recoveries, compliance, governance, storage, security and other best practices need to change too. The good news is that as organizations begin the decision making process to move to a hybrid solution, they can look at the wealth of information and expertise that has already been shared from full cloud migrations.
Additionally hybrid SharePoint provides organizations with a way to slowly transition workload, new or existing, to the cloud while revising their best practices for ongoing management of cloud based SharePoint solutions.
The point is simple: Leaping to hybrid is the same as leaping to the cloud and while organizations may only move a few systems to the cloud to begin with, adopting cloud thinking and best practices early in your journey reduces your organization’s long term risk.