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The future of SharePoint

16th October 2013

All signs point to the cloud

A recent report from AIIM Research suggests that user adoption and security issues are stifling the growth of SharePoint Online, with most organisations opting to stick with SharePoint On Premise. According to the research, as a result of the concerns, 43% of businesses have no current plans for storing SharePoint content in the cloud.

Historically, organisations have needed a means of hosting SharePoint themselves, but the launch of SharePoint Online in 2008 has meant that hosting and its associated issues can now be left to Microsoft. The downside is that SharePoint Online offers fewer features and less opportunity for customisation than the On Premise counterpart. Perhaps more significantly, it requires a change in working practices for organisations that are used to managing their own SharePoint deployment and raises questions about security and migration for users.

AIIM President John Mancini said, “There are many benefits to tapping into the power of SharePoint 2013, specifically the mobile and social aspects, yet as our research indicates, many business and IT leaders are wary of security issues around cloud technology.”

Whilst it is understandable that these questions will be raised within organisations, they are largely unfounded. Migrating users from SharePoint On Premise to SharePoint Online is a relatively straightforward process due to the similarities between the versions – and the security offered by Microsoft with SharePoint Online is likely better than what most companies would already have in place. In reality, the biggest obstacle for Microsoft in moving its SharePoint customers to the cloud is changing the status quo – any major change to a software platform within an organisation can cause upheaval that most would rather do without.

Regardless of what the perceptions or reality of the situation are though, one thing is certain – Microsoft wants you to use SharePoint in the cloud and that’s ultimately what will happen, obstacles or not. For Microsoft, SharePoint Online means lower costs of production and a more regular revenue stream.

This point was well summarised by Gartner Analyst Jeffrey Mann during his talk at the 2013 Gartner Symposium: “Killing on-premises SharePoint makes sense for Microsoft and ultimately for its customers as well. It will deliver a better user experience, at potentially lower cost for the client, while also ensuring steadier revenues for Microsoft.”

Changing the status quo is never easy but Microsoft are masters of the long game.  It’s no accident that Windows and Office are standard business platforms. As such, although shifting the SharePoint user base to the cloud will take time, the long term benefits to both Microsoft and end users mean that, ultimately, it’s just a matter of time.

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