Friday, April 26, 2013

EPC's Understanding SharePoint's Communities- Power Users and Operational on

The original article post on can be found at:

We've already looked at the Knowledge community in SharePoint, now it's time to look at the Power User and the Operational Communities to see who they are,  and what the specific needs and best practices are for each.

The “Power User”\“Super User” Community

The “Power Users” \ “Super Users” who supports the “care and feeding” of SharePoint communities where I mentioned in the previous article “keep the lights on” and ensure security, performance, governance, compliance and business continuity should follow the following high-level as well as more granularly listed best practices:


Because IT and the “Operations” community is usually extremely busy working on “keeping the lights on” the “Power User” community can be your first line of defense as well as a friendly face to engage the business and work with IT to resolve community issues.

The “Operational” Community

SharePoint Operational Community and Related Roles support the following in SharePoint:

People (Permissions, Active Directory, Groups, etc.)

  • Roles & Teams
  • Sponsorship

Process and Policies (Enforcement)

  • Security
  • Content Management (Policy Enforcement from a technical level)
  • Hardware & Services
  • Procedures (From an automated or technical level)

Communication and Training (From a technical level)

  • Communication Plan
  • Training Plan
  • Support Plan
It is also key to have these permissions and responsibilities in the operations roles persistent throughout all communities (SharePoint sites \ farms). The roles and responsibilities defined below are specific to SharePoint Communities used for operations and maintenance of SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2010.

Note: These will vary based on your specific requirements as well as the site templates and technology versions you have implemented but is a very strong “core” list to pull from:

RoleResponsibilities and TasksGroupPermissionsTrustee
SharePoint Team Manager
  • Responsible for all SharePoint Product and Technology Efforts.
  • Leads SharePoint Steering Committee.
  • Leads SharePoint Team.
  • Major SharePoint Technology Decision Maker
SharePoint TeamFull Control: full control given at the web application policy level for every web application in all farm locations.
Admin Control: full control to all central administration and SharePoint services in all farm locations.
May or may not have system administrative or SQL administration rights.
Application Manager/Infrastructure Architect
SharePoint Application Architect
  • SharePoint Development Team Lead
  • Third Party Configuration
  • Line of Business Integration
  • Governance Model/Best Practices Enforcement
SharePoint TeamFull Control: full control given at the web application policy level for every web application in all farm locations.
Admin Control: full control to all central administration and SharePoint services in all farm locations.
Has system administrative or SQL administration rights in non-production systems.
SharePoint Team Manager
SharePoint System Architect
  • AD and Exchange Integration
  • Profile Synchronization
  • Patch Management (Validation and Testing)
  • Responsible for SharePoint farm infrastructure design, installation, guidelines and best practices.
  • Governance Model/Best Practices Enforcement
  • System Administrators day to day support
  • Search Administration
  • Farm Administrators day to day support
  • Third Party Configuration
SharePoint TeamFull Control: full control given at the web application policy level for every web application in all farm locations.
Admin Control: full control to all central administration and SharePoint services in all farm locations.
Has system administrative or SQL administration rights in production systems.
SharePoint Team Manager
Active Directory Manager
  • Active Directory Management
  • DNS Management
  • Exchange Management
Infrastructure TeamWill not have access to portal or site configuration settings and will not be able to make any changes to the application.SharePoint System Architect
Network Engineer
  • Firewalls
  • WAN
  • WAN Optimization
  • Remote Access Management
  • External Access Management
  • Load Balancing
Infrastructure TeamWill not have access to portal or site configuration settings and will not be able to make any changes to the application.SharePoint System Architect
SharePoint Solution Manager
  • Responsible for SharePoint services, policies, procedures, and governance/best practice enforcement.
  • Liaison between business users and SharePoint Team.
  • Day to day support for Site Collection Managers.
  • Serves as SharePoint champion for all locations.
SharePoint TeamWill not have system administrative or SQL administration rights.
Local Full Control– full control given at the site collection level
SharePoint Application Architect /SharePoint System Architect
SharePoint System Administrator
  • Responsible for SharePoint farm infrastructure change requests.
  • Responsible for day to day maintenance of SharePoint farm OS operations and uptime.
Infrastructure TeamWill not have access to portal or site configuration settings and will not be able to make any changes to the application.IT Manager
SharePoint SQL Database Administrator
  • SQL Server database backup and recovery, SQL configuration, SQL upgrades and monitoring.
  • Responsible for databases, site collection, and site backups.
Infrastructure TeamWill not have access to portal or site configuration settings and will not be able to make any changes to the application.
SQL Administrative rights
IT Manager
SharePoint Solution Analyst
  • Tests custom code and third party tools in non-production systems
  • Defined requirements for proposed solutions to determine whether the solution is Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS), requires custom development or requires feature extension
SharePoint TeamFull Control: full control given at the web application policy level for every web application in virtual lab environments
Admin Control: full control to all central administration and SharePoint services in virtual lab environments
Has system administrative or SQL administration rights in virtual lab environments
SharePoint Application Architect / SharePoint System Architect

Local Group Roles in the Operational Community (End-User Roles)

  • These community (site) roles will be managed by the Farm Administrator.
  • Community (site) users may belong to more than one group to add additional permissions.
  • Community (site) users may also be removed from lower level roles as higher level roles permissions may encompass the permissions of the lower level role.
RolesResponsibilities and Tasks Training PermissionsTrustee
Site Collection Manager (IT) (Top Level Communities or Sites)
  • Manage Features and Solutions for site collection.
  • SharePoint site provisioning for site collection
Instructor led with good understanding of site administration, security, content creation, feature deploymentAccess defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level.Farm Administrator
Site Collection Owner (Solution Manager in Development, IT in Production)
  • Site Collection Owner. Content creation. Manage content.
  • Sub-site management
Instructor led with good understanding of site administration, security, content creationAccess defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level.Site Collection Manager / Farm Administrator
Site Owner (Solution Manager, IT and End User)
  • Site Owner. Content creation. Manage content.
Instructor led with good understanding of site administration, security, content creationAccess defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level. Site Collection Manager / Farm Administrator
Developer (IT Dev is the SharePoint Team). This group exists on all sites at time of creation but is removed prior to go-live.
  • Manage the site layout and structure.
  • Create custom workflows.
  • Create custom Web Parts, solutions and features.
  • Responsible for building the framework and features of the portal.
  • Modify SharePoint templates as needed.
  • Write ASP.Net code.
  • Participate in design tasks as needed.
  • Participate in development and testing as needed.
    Create custom forms.
Instructor led training with CBTs. MS training for Visual Studio, and SharePoint Designer “Developers”Full control of non-production systems.
Access defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level.
Access does not exist in the production environment.
SharePoint Application Architect
MemberContent creation (documents, lists).
Contribute to collaboration sites (blog, wiki).
Initiate workflows.
CBT with good understanding of document libraries and listsAccess defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level.Site Owner
  • Approve content (documents, lists).
  • Initiate workflows.
CBT with good understanding of content approval and workflowsAccess defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level.Site Owner
ReaderView contentN/AN/ASite Owner

End User Community Permissions

The following is an example of “end user” community permissions based on the user roles for the community (sites) are listed below.

List Permissions

Community Site PermissionsSite Collection ManagerOwnerDeveloperMemberApproverReader
Manage Lists - Create and delete lists, add or remove columns in a list, and add or remove public views of a list.YYYNNN
Override Check Out - Discard or check in a document which is checked out to another user.YYNNNN
Add Items - Add items to lists, add documents to document libraries, and add Web discussion comments.YYYYNN
Edit Items - Edit items in lists, edit documents in document libraries, edit Web discussion comments in documents, and customize Web Part Pages in document libraries.YYYYYN
Delete Items - Delete items from a list, documents from a document library, and Web discussion comments in documents. YYYYNN
View Items - View items in lists, documents in document libraries, and view Web discussion comments.YYYYYY
Approve Items - Approve a minor version of a list item or document.YYYYYN
Open Items - View the source of documents with server-side file handlers.YYYYYN
View Versions - View past versions of a list item or document.YYYYYN
Delete Versions - Delete past versions of a list item or documentYY NNN
Create Alerts - Create email alerts.YYYYYN
View Application Pages - View forms, views, and application pages. Enumerate lists.YYYYYY
Manage Permissions - Create and change permission levels on the Web site and assign permissions to users and groups.YNNNNN
View Usage Data - View reports on Web site usage.YYYNNN
Create Sub-sites - Create Sub-sites such as team sites, Meeting Workspace sites, and Document Workspace sites.YYYNNN
Manage Web Site - Grants the ability to perform all administration tasks for the Web site as well as manage content.YNNNNN
Add and Customize Pages - Add, change, or delete HTML pages or Web Part Pages, and edit the Web site using a Windows SharePoint Services-compatible editor.YYYNNN
Apply Themes and Borders - Apply a theme or borders to the entire Web site.YYYNNN
Apply Style Sheets - Apply a style sheet (.CSS file) to the Web site.YYYNNN
Create Groups - Create a group of users that can be used anywhere within the site collection. .YNNNNN
Browse Directories - Enumerate files and folders in a Web site using SharePoint Designer and Web DAV interfaces.YYYYYY
View Pages - View pages in a Web site.YYYYYY
Enumerate Permissions - Enumerate permissions on the Web site, list, folder, document, or list item.YYYYYN
Browse User Information - View information about users of the Web site.YYYYYN
Manage Alerts - Manage alerts for all users of the Web site.YYNNNN
Use Remote Interfaces - Use SOAP, Web DAV, or SharePoint Designer interfaces to access the Web site.YYYYYY
Use Client Integration Features - Use features which launch client applications. Without this permission, users will have to work on documents locally and upload their changes.YYYYYN
Open - Allows users to open a Web site, list, or folder in order to access items inside that container.YYYYYY
Edit Personal User Information - Allows a user to change his or her own user information, such as adding a picture.NNNNNN
Manage Personal Views - Create, change, and delete personal views of lists.NNNNN N
Add/Remove Personal Web Parts - Add or remove personal Web Parts on a Web Part Page.NNNNNN
Update Personal Web Parts - Update Web Parts to display personalized information.NNNNNN's Editor's Note: To read the preceding article to this, see Understanding SharePoint's Internal Communities, Goals, Best Practices

Thursday, April 25, 2013

EPC Group's New Book SharePoint 2013 Field Guide: Advice from the Consulting Trenches

EPC Group's New SharePoint 2013 Book Link on

SharePoint 2013 Field Guide: Advice from the Consulting Trenches [Paperback]

Book Description

August 5, 2013 0789751194 978-0789751195 1
Get a team of senior-level SharePoint consultants by your side, helping you optimize your success throughout your entire SharePoint 2013 initiative!
SharePoint 2013: Advice From the Trenches reveals how world-class SharePoint consultants approach, plan, implement, and deploy SharePoint 2013 to ensure its long-term success. This real-world guide covers every phase and element of the process, including:
  • Initial “whiteboarding” of potential overall solutions
  • Consideration of existing infrastructure, including older versions of SharePoint
  • Developing roadmaps, architectures, and detailed, step-by-step implementation plans
  • Successfully executing your SharePoint implementation plan, testing, and “going live”
Drawing on his personal experience leading nearly 200 SharePoint deployments, Errin O’Connor brings together:
  • Powerful new best practices for SharePoint 2013 planning, implementation, and deployment
  • Expert methodologies for providing content and records management through SharePoint 2013
  • New ways to plan for and deliver support for mobile devices (“BYOD”)
  • Insights for developing new SharePoint apps, either for your own environment or for sale
  • And much more
Using Microsoft’s SharePoint 2013, it’s possible to “change the game,” driving breakthrough improvements in everything from business agility to customer service to compliance. This guide will help you identify your best opportunities to leverage SharePoint 2013 – and then transform its potential into reality!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

EPC Group's Understanding SharePoint's Internal Communities, Goals, and Best Practices

The link to the original article post on can be found at:

When deploying SharePoint within an organization, it is key to look at the needs and requirements of the user base. To simplify this process, EPC Group has identified three key internal communities. When organizations implement SharePoint internally they must accomplish both in-scope business requirements as well as information technology (IT) goals and key benefits in order to launch and support SharePoint for the long term.

From the very beginning of a deployment, communities start to develop. Those related users within those communities have their own sets of goals, processes they wish to improve upon, and collaboration or increased knowledge sharing to perform in a governed and secure manner that SharePoint offers.

This is true for SharePoint implementations of any kind whether it be an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) initiative or a new intranet or increased “social” or “professional networking” related strategy the culture is striving to embrace.

This very granular path or rabbit trail could cause this type of discussion to quickly get “into the weeds” of a technical or business deep dive. To simplify there are three core types of communities that exist within any SharePoint 2013 or 2010 implementation.

There are, of course, many sub-communities and types of users that flow out of these main community types but the three that can be identified at the very top level are:
  1. The “Knowledge” community and related users whose goal is collaboration, knowledge sharing, social\professional networking, and retaining this “knowledge” for the long-term. A goal of this community is to prevent “knowledge” loss when staff members leave the organization and providing their best practices, lessons learned, and intellectual property “knowledge’ when new staff comes into the company.
  2. The “Power User”\“Super User” community who supports the “care and feeding” as well as support to ensure the “Knowledge” community continues to thrive. This group is made up of team members or users who work with both the “Knowledge” community as well as the business leaders who set these goals and the IT and “Operational” community who keeps the “lights on” and ensures security, performance, governance, compliance, and business continuity.
  3. The “Operational” community who supports both the “Knowledge” and “Power User”\“Super User” communities. This community is made of the technical staff with roles such as the SharePoint administrators, Site Collection owners, Site owners, infrastructure, networking, and security. The “Operational” community is also getting ever growing requests to support the “Knowledge” community who is knocking at the door regarding mobility, smartphones, tablets and the bigger BYOD questions.
Note: I completely agree with those who are reading this and naming off many different more granular communities or types of SharePoint Sites (Team Sites, My Sites, Community Sites, Records Center \ Management Sites, etc.) but you can draw a correlation between all of these types of communities or sites to the three main communities I identified above.

The Knowledge Community

One thing I have strived with my team members is to take the word “SharePoint” out of many conversations and focus on the business and functional goals at hand. Microsoft SharePoint is the technology you are using to accomplish these goals but think in terms of how the “technology” can meet the needs of the communities.

There is a bit of a new blurry line when talking about SharePoint Communities today with SharePoint 2013 having a new level or hierarchy of Community Sites (templates) which support specific communities but I think it's key to bring it back to thinking in terms of knowledge management and “Communities of Practice” (CoP) or “Networks of Excellence” (NoE) that initially created many of the best practices and strategies that drive “SharePoint Communities” today.

So taking a step back and using the “Networks of Excellence” or NoE concept in the knowledge management world, the following are roles, responsibilities, as well as best practices that should be taken into consideration.

Executive Community Sponsor

  • Approves and supports the business case and vision for knowledge sharing at the functional, business unit, operational and/or executive levels
  • Signs-off on the business case, vision and resources for knowledge sharing
  • Remains involved through executive briefings and communications to the organizational community sponsors

Community Sponsor

  • Sets goals and related performance criteria for the community
  • Fosters widespread interest and enthusiasm for Knowledge Sharing and community participation
  • Directs and presents the strategic input of the community to executives

Community Leader

  • Directs the activities and sets priorities of the community
  • Manages the usage and appropriation of community resources
  • Ensures the quality and timeliness of community activities/deliverables
  • Develops a team concept within the community dedicated to learning and innovation
  • Participates and leads all aspects of community planning, design, development and deployment
  • Oversees the processes, content, technology (portal administration) and people resources to increase the effective sharing of best practices and lessons learned across business units
  • Works closely with “Knowledge” Sharing leaders and staff to incorporate training and standards
  • Measures community maturity and effectiveness with accountability to business goals
  • Communicates knowledge sharing success stories and lessons learned
  • Gives recognition to community, going back to the “Networks of Excellence” (NoE), members for their contributions, and enables award or recognition submissions
  • Guides research and benchmarking projects (where applicable)
  • Encourages qualitative and quantitative benchmarking to identify new areas of improvement opportunity
  • Appoints, coaches and supports the community coordinators

Community Coordinator

  • Ensures effective content management by collecting and managing the right information that supports the community
  • Ensures that SharePoint’s content is updated and relevant to the user’s needs
  • Monitors collaborative spaces (Sites) to extract new knowledge and to identify issues that require responses
  • Builds awareness of and access to the right people and right information that supports employees’ daily workflows (day-to-day tasks)
  • Maintains processes for knowledge acquisition, storage, maintenance and dissemination
  • Facilitates community interaction and outreach to grow the number and contributions of active members
  • Links community members with subject matter experts to answer questions or provide solutions
  • Collects and packages “Knowledge” Sharing success stories and lessons-learned and champions these to other communities to keep a sense of competition within various communities to strive for excellence

Community Core Team Members

  • Actively participates in and steers network activities under the guidance of the community sponsor
  • Builds regional sponsorship for and engages regional members in knowledge sharing activities
  • Formulates and executes plans to deploy community deliverables at the regional levels
  • Provides a link between the strategies of the Community and the strategies of the regional business units
  • Develops relevant measures of success for the community
  • Engages local community coordinators and subject matter experts (SMEs) in knowledge sharing activities
In identifying these different roles, there is a best practices framework that can be followed to ensure SharePoint Community Effectiveness along with 10 Critical Success Factors.


In identifying these this framework, there is a best practices SharePoint Community operating model that can be followed to ensure SharePoint compliance as well as continued “care and feedings” of the community.

Thumbnail image for epc_model.png

 There is always the question of “the users and participants have a day-job and tasks they must manage” so how can this be “worked” into the SharePoint network and overall participation. The following image details an approach to this question:


With any network, you are going to get critical or very time sensitive issues or areas of possible improvement come to the attention of community leaders and the roles identified above. The following is a workflow or process showing an example of how these community items can be dealt with head-on but also puts a timeframe out there for resolution of issues so that they are not prolonged and the community itself does not become irrelevant because users have stopped providing or sharing knowledge because of an unresolved issue.

Lastly, you want to ensure you have defined metrics and an understanding of the maturity model as well as how relevant each community’s knowledge is to ensure it is being updated, used and ROI is being gained from the network. The following diagram compares the knowledge gained from communities to the time spend to provide you with a starting point for your organization.


We'll take a look at the Power User and Operational communities in EPC Group's follow-up article on

Thursday, April 4, 2013

SharePoint 2013, Cloud vs. On Premise: What You Need To Know

Original Article -

[Contribution by EPC Group's CEO Errin O'Connor]

Microsoft's plan to upgrade SharePoint in the cloud first is complete, but the puzzle for IT is still coming together. Here's a variety of factors you'll want to consider before making on-site vs. cloud decision.
- By Jeffrey Schwartz - 04/01/2013
Now that Microsoft has released SharePoint 2013 and its online counterpart via the latest rev of Office 365, IT decision makers must choose whether to deploy it in-house or use the latest cloud-based iterations of the collaboration platform.

In many cases decision makers may have less influence -- and in some instances absolutely no say -- in that decision. That's because those who manage line-of-business apps can now sidestep IT and procure SharePoint in the cloud on their own, thanks to a variety of self-service options from cloud providers and the new Microsoft SharePoint Online service. That service is available in the revamped release of Office 365, which Microsoft released on Feb. 27.

Moreover, customers can opt to have Microsoft or a third party build apps and manage their SharePoint instances in the cloud. But even in midsize and larger shops, where IT's role may be changing, it's far from diminished. Most enterprises are still aligning their technology organizations with the business, whether they continue to run SharePoint in-house or in the cloud.
"The business side is interested in transferring capital expenditures to operational expenses, but there's resistance from those who manage the infrastructure side of the business because there's the perception they're going to lose control," says Sriram Jayaraman, director of technology for enterprise solutions at Aditi Technologies, one of Microsoft's top cloud partners.

Jayaraman says Aditi, with headquarters in both Seattle and Bangalore, India, explains to customers how IT can shift control to minimize the number of SharePoint workloads, so that they can focus on maintaining quality of service and business continuity. How do these discussions play out? "It's not a one-time conversation, I'll put it to you that way," he admits. "We have to demonstrate how they can do that."

Analysts and partners say demand for the new SharePoint 2013 release is outpacing that of previous new versions at this stage. Some of the key selling points of the new SharePoint release are a modernized UI, improved support for mobile devices and social networking features including some new ties to Yammer, the cloud-based enterprise social networking service Microsoft acquired last year for $1.2 billion.

New SharePoint Code

Microsoft has updated the code base in SharePoint 2013, which is the same cut of the software that powers SharePoint Online in Office 365. The latter, of course, includes Exchange and Lync, all delivered in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. The changes appearing in the new Office 365 SharePoint Online will work their way into an update or service pack to the premises-based version of SharePoint 2013, which Microsoft released to manufacturing in November 2012 (see "Under the Hood of SharePoint 2013," December 2012).

The release of SharePoint Online in the new Office 365 release marks Microsoft's completed transition toward adding new features to SharePoint by rolling them out first in the cloud version and subsequently in the premises-based edition, explains Mark Kashman, Microsoft senior SharePoint product manager. "The innovation we're bringing to the cloud will come to the on-prem version afterward," Kashman says.

Most experts are in agreement that a growing number of SharePoint implementations will run in the cloud, either via the SharePoint Online service in Office 365 or through a cloud infrastructure provider such as Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), Rackspace U.S. Inc., Microsoft Windows Azure or thousands of alternative hosters and managed services providers (MSPs). Where the experts' projections differ is the extent of SharePoint cloud implementations.

A Forrester Research Inc. survey of IT decision makers shows 62 percent plan to deploy SharePoint 2013 on-premises, while only 8 percent will do so in a Microsoft datacenter, presumably via Office 365. Only 4 percent will run SharePoint in the datacenter of a Microsoft partner, while 26 percent will deploy SharePoint in a hybrid mode, both on-premises and online.

While that shows a clear majority still planning to run SharePoint in-house, it's a marked decline over the current state of SharePoint deployments, in which 82 percent of surveyed companies are running it in their datacenters, 5 percent have hybrid implementations, 4 percent are using a Microsoft-hosted service and 5 percent are hosting it with a third-party provider.

Another survey recently released by Metalogix Software Corp. had similar findings, showing 55 percent intend to continue running SharePoint entirely in-house and only 10 percent plan to run it purely in the cloud. The remaining 35 percent are planning hybrid SharePoint implementations.
"While Microsoft has steadily improved the online version of SharePoint by eliminating functional gaps, customers are still moving slowly to adopt Microsoft's Office and SharePoint cloud services," according to a February Forrester report authored by analysts Rob Koplowitz and John Rymer. Nevertheless, the analysts expect that to shift. "Despite the current slow adoption of Microsoft's SharePoint Online, we expect that customers will begin to adopt it in greater numbers as they eventually start seeing the service's advantages," they wrote.

Others believe a much larger percentage of organizations will run SharePoint in-house, particularly those addressing larger enterprises. Errin O'Connor, CEO of Houston-based EPC Group, a consultancy that specializes primarily in Microsoft SharePoint and SQL Server solutions, says 80 percent of his customers intend to keep SharePoint on-site.
"I don't think the cloud has matured enough for large organizations with 1,000-plus users," O'Connor says. "They're not comfortable with deploying data in the cloud because of security. The cloud is good for quick SharePoint environments that people want to stand up that will play nice with IT, or for smaller organizations."

Shyam Oza, senior product manager for administration, migration and cloud strategy at AvePoint Inc., believes it's hard to predict how rapidly SharePoint will move online. 
"I think those numbers are up in the air," Oza says, when asked about the Metalogix survey. "While that number may be accurate as a snapshot of right now, I think that figure is in a state of constant flux. We've had phone calls with customers in the middle of last year who said, 'We won't go to the cloud, it's not on our roadmap, our content is too sensitive.' As recently as a week ago, [those same] customers have reached out to us and said, 'We're thinking of moving to SharePoint Online.'"

Case for the Cloud

 Predictions and studies notwithstanding, it's no secret that Microsoft is looking to ultimately wean as many SharePoint customers as possible off of the datacenter and into the cloud. Most agree this won't happen overnight, and there are some SharePoint implementations -- existing and future -- that will never go off-site because of compliance, data governance or other regulatory requirements.
"There will always be large organizations and governments that will never move their servers off-site. They'll want control, but this technology is moving at such a fast pace that in seven to 10 years the majority will be in the cloud," says SharePoint MVP Christian Buckley, director of product evangelism at SharePoint tools vendor Axceler. "Certainly SMBs will be 100 percent in the cloud and the large majority of enterprises will be in the cloud, as well, but hybrid will have a long life."
Stephen Murphy, CEO of Metalogix, attended a SharePoint conference last month and suggests his company's findings that 35 percent are planning hybrid implementations may be on the low side.
"The numbers definitely are dependent on the type of content," Murphy says. "From a hybrid cloud perspective, we're starting to hear regularly, 'I'm going to move my social to the cloud, I'm using My Sites.' Now we're starting to see and hear file shares. There's a massive amount of content, and customers are looking for alternate cost and availability models. When you're talking about someone who's looking at less-mission-critical content, I think their intention is to move to a cloud -- Office 365 being one of [the options there] -- and those numbers will increase."
Whether you use SharePoint 2013 on-premises or elsewhere, the new SkyDrive Pro component will give all users a taste of the cloud (see "Working Together,"). It will allow users to more securely share files in the cloud than public cloud services like Box, Dropbox and a slew of other services. "This is a much-needed enhancement to allow users to move between devices and have access to their content," wrote Gartner Inc. analysts Mark Gilbert and Jeffrey Mann, in a report on SharePoint 2013 released in February.

"The innovation we're bringing to the cloud will come to the on-prem version afterward."
Mark Kashman, Senior SharePoint Product Manager, Microsoft

Migration Issues

Microsoft is talking up the parity of SharePoint 2013 and the online edition in Office 365. But critics point out that, while that's fine for new applications, for shops with existing SharePoint farms on older versions, Office 365 is not designed to let IT simply move that content or apps with custom-developed or third-party applications to the cloud.
Microsoft's Kashman says while Office 365 indeed can't run so-called "trusted code" or apps designed to run on existing SharePoint farms on-premises, his team has worked closely with third-party tools providers and ISVs to mitigate that shortcoming. "We don't see that as a blocker," Kashman insists.

Among those that offer SharePoint migration and management tools are AvePoint, Axceler, the Dell Quest Software unit and Idera Inc. For its part, Metalogix last month added Office 365 support to its Content Matrix migration software. The release in February of AvePoint DocAve 6 SP2 adds support for those migrating from older versions of SharePoint -- as well as other content management offerings including EMC Documentum, IBM Lotus Notes and OpenText Livelink -- to SharePoint 2013 and Office 365. And the newest update to Axceler ControlPoint for SharePoint Administration allows IT to enforce SharePoint governance in the 2013 release and Office 365.

"Having good migration pathways and working with our partners to make sure their tooling is compliant with the changes we've made in 2013, it doesn't mean you can't go from 2007 to SharePoint Online, which is based on SharePoint 2013," Kashman says. "There are things to be considered in the what -- and how -- but we think we've addressed that pretty well."
In addition to those running hybrid implementations, the improved SharePoint 2013 Business Connectivity Services (BCS) provides connectors to Office apps, SQL databases, the Open Data Protocol (OData), and other Web services protocols and .NET sources, as well as connectors to popular applications such as those provided by Oracle Corp. and SAP AG.

Alternative Cloud Options 

 Many talk about SharePoint Online via Office 365 as the obvious option for running SharePoint in the cloud. But major Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers -- including AWS, Rackspace, Dimension Data and even VMware vCloud Director-based IaaS provider Bluelock -- say they have thriving businesses letting customers run SharePoint either via dedicated hosting services or on multi-tenant (shared) virtual servers.

SharePoint MVP Shane Young, founder of SharePoint911, which Rackspace acquired last year, says there's less reluctance from customers to run the collaboration service online, but he believes they want more control than Office 365 allows even with its migration options.

"If you look at Office 365, it's a very cheap option, but it's also not the most flexible option," Young says. "Either your data is so massive, or it's corrupt and you're afraid to touch and move it, or you've added so much custom code and add-ons that you know moving it to SharePoint 2010 or 2013 will be a monumental task because you'll have to redeploy those customizations. For those people, Office 365 is not going to meet their needs because they're not going to be able to move those customizations to a multi-tenant shared environment."

Young, now director of the Rackspace SharePoint Service, is aiming to capture those customers via a fully managed service Rackspace rolled out in February, where the company will actually build a SharePoint farm and provide support services running in its public IaaS offering. And within the next quarter or two, Young says Rackspace will offer SharePoint 2013 in its multi-tenant IaaS environment.

With this multi-tenant SharePoint farm, a customer will essentially be buying SharePoint site collections from Rackspace. IT won't have central admin access, nor will it be able to deploy code on the server, much like the Microsoft SharePoint Online offering.
What's the point of a SharePoint Online-like offering provided by a third party? According to Young: "There's no moving your data out of Office 365 once you're in there, and that's going to be our value proposition."

AWS also has a significant customer base that uses its EC2 services to run their SharePoint farms. One of AWS's largest integration partners, 2nd Watch Inc., offers what it describes as a superior alternative to Office 365 called 2W SharePoint. "What we've done is simplified that to one click, so a company with 1,000 users can have a SharePoint site running [on Amazon] within hours," says Jeff Aden, co-founder and president of Seattle-based 2nd Watch.

Customers can also use 2nd Watch to bring their own SharePoint licenses to Amazon. "In either case they end up with the same product -- it's just a question of how quickly they want to get there," Aden says. The company last month announced a partnership with Slalom Consulting, which will work with clients to provide custom SharePoint development of applications hosted in Amazon via 2nd Watch.

Cloud App Store

 Whether you're going to run SharePoint in the cloud, in your datacenter or in some combination thereof, Microsoft is championing a new cloud app model for SharePoint 2013 and Office 365. The apps for SharePoint can be found in the new Microsoft Office Store, where third-party ISVs can sell SharePoint tools, plug-ins, and apps either free or for a fee.
Enterprises with their own in-house development organizations can also use the new SharePoint tooling in Visual Studio to build apps that can be offered in the public store or side-loaded into their SharePoint corporate catalogs, according to Kashman. Kashman says it's early days for the new cloud app model, but he is optimistic that partners will quickly deploy new applications.

"We think we're going to see a lot of the ISV-level solutions coming into the store in the next four to six months, but we think at the same time, enterprise customers will have started to take advantage of the corporate catalog," Kashman says. "We've gotten feedback that they will be taking more advantage of the cloud app model methods as opposed to writing code that sits in SharePoint.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is executive editor of Redmond magazine, an editor-at-large at Redmond Channel Partner and an editor of The Cloud Report newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.