Sharepoint 2010: To Cloud or Not to Cloud?

A new Forrester report reveals surprisingly high adoption rates for Sharepoint 2010. Is this an indicator of Office 365 cloud migrations to come? Well, yes and no.

Research firm Forrester just released a meaty report on Sharepoint 2010 usage based on a survey of over 500 enterprise IT leaders.

The report, entitled "Sharepoint Adoption: Content and Collaboration Is Just the Start", authored by Forrester analysts Rob Koplowitz and John Rymer, includes praise for the high adoption of the latest version, Sharepoint 2010. Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents have upgraded to Sharepoint 2010 despite the fact that it has been generally available for only 14 months, the report states.

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In addition, despite hassles such as slow deployments, a need for third-party products, and a lack of Sharepoint experts, 79 percent of respondents reported that SharePoint meets IT's expectations, and 73 percent said the product meets their business management's expectations. The most popular Sharepoint 2010 workloads are collaboration tools (78 percent are either satisfied or very satisfied) and team sites and intranets (73 percent are either satisfied or very satisfied).

All of this leads to a larger question of whether to keep Sharepoint in-house or migrate it to the cloud now that Microsoft's productivity cloud service, Office 365, is hitting its stride.

Enterprises are at least open to cloud migrations, according to the Forrester survey. When respondents who don't use SharePoint in the cloud were asked why, only 17 percent said cloud was never a consideration. Top reasons for not considering Sharepoint Online include security concerns, functional gaps in the SharePoint online options, or just lack of availability at the time they deployed SharePoint. It remains to be seen if Office 365 can deliver the great experience that will ease these fears.

Still, 19 percent of Forrester's survey respondents reported using Sharepoint in some sort of cloud/hosted environment, which is a "high number considering how new cloud-based SharePoint products are."

Forrester predicts Sharepoint cloud usage will stay on an upswing, yet also face a few constraints. Here are two pros and two cons for migrating to Office 365 and Sharepoint Online, according to Forrester.

PROS

The Cloud Simplifies Sharepoint Ownership

Managing the technically complex and expensive Sharepoint on-premise is a challenge, according to Forrester survey results, and the costs of sustaining large Sharepoint farms at an enterprise will inevitably grow. An in-house Sharepoint upgrade, it seems, is the last thing an IT manager wants to go through.

"Our bet is that a substantial number of customers will try to simplify their SharePoint investments by letting Microsoft or its partners run the farms required to support their applications," states the report.

Sharepoint in the Cloud Will Be Cheaper, for Some

The cost of buying hardware and training people on Sharepoint can be daunting, particularly for smaller organizations, the report states. With a pay-per-user model, these potentially high deployment costs are no longer a problem.

Forrester contends that Office 365 will make SharePoint more affordable and easy to implement. The greatest impact will be among smaller organizations.

CONS

The Problem of Customizing Code in the Cloud

Forrester's survey revealed doubts about the viability of using custom code in SharePoint servers in the cloud. The concern is primarily about performance.

"Given that custom applications are already the most challenging workload, we expect most shops to view custom code in SharePoint clouds as a wild and risky frontier," the report states.

Information Workplaces in the Cloud Are 'A Bridge too Far.'

An "information workplace" in Sharepoint is a content platform that mixes business data with collaboration and communications tools. This scenario is ideal for Sharepoint on-premise, but Sharepoint's main business integration service, called Business Connectivity Services, is not available as part of Office 365. And until it is, it will hold back potential cloud migrators, according to Forrester.

Do you have plans to migrate to Office 365? If not, what's holding you back?

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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