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Hybrid SharePoint Is a Destination, Not a Halfway House

7 minute read
David Roe avatar

Assessing SharePoint's reach in the enterprise is difficult. Add SharePoint Online into the mix and it gets more difficult again. 

So needless to say, trying to assess a hybrid deployment of both SharePoint on-premises and SharePoint Online is just about impossible.

Nevertheless, CollabTalk, an independent research and technical marketing services company took on the task, with the objective of finding out how big a business opportunity exists around hybrid SharePoint environments.

The report based its findings on responses from 626 SharePoint professionals across 54 different countries, of which 35 percent were from the United States.

Growing SharePoint Ecosystem

Part of the challenge of writing the report is a result of Microsoft's lack of reporting on specific business figures. Therefore "Understanding the State of the Hybrid SharePoint Ecosystem" (registration required) only shares informed estimates based on Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft's public statements over the last few years.

The numbers it turns up are revealing. 

The report points to dramatic growth in the area, estimating that within the next three years, hybrid will be the primary SharePoint environment, growing from 32 percent in 2017 to more than 46 percent in 2020. SharePoint cloud deployments — as part of the Office 365 platform — were also predicted to increase from 22 percent in 2017 to 28 percent in 2020.

As well as predictions, the report points to the healthy state of current SharePoint deployments, with over 200 million current SharePoint licenses and an estimated over $10 billion SharePoint environment market space, with hybrid representing roughly $3.2 billion of the figure.

SharePoint revenues per market

The $10 billion figure is based on Microsoft's public statements on the total revenue generated by it internally and by its external partnering companies in the SharePoint ecosystem. 

CollabTalk founder and Office servers and services MVP Christian Buckley told CMSWire the figures appear to be accurate:

“We can only go on what Microsoft has actually said in public. The sponsors [of the report] had access to the raw data and all of the calculations,” he said. "So, if one of them disagreed and said, ‘no we think that it was more like $6 billion, or $12 billion’ they could have gone in there and changed it and make other statements around that figure."

If that $10 billion is accurate, then the hybrid environment figure is also likely accurate and a good starting point.

Hybrid Isn't Going Anywhere

The report concludes hybrid SharePoint scenarios will be a permanent fixture of the SharePoint landscape, rather than a stepping stone on the way to a full cloud deployment as some — including Microsoft — initially viewed it. 

The report indicates that  an organization's future strategy depends on where they are now. Of the companies using SharePoint Online, 97 percent are planning to stay fully online. While of the companies still operating on-premises, 50 percent plan to move to hybrid and only 17 percent intend to move to SharePoint Online.  

Of those currently in hybrid environments, 69 percent plan to remain there. 

The hybrid approach is most popular in enterprises with over 1000 employees, though customer demand is currently still highest for on-premises SharePoint deployments.

According to the research, about 32 percent of the organizations that currently use SharePoint already have a hybrid environment.

Of the 510 surveyed companies, 49 percent of the current SharePoint seats are located within a hybrid deployment.

The report indicates an emerging trend: the larger the company, the more likely it is to either be completely on-premises or hybrid, with companies of 200 employees and less moving directly to the cloud.

“Small companies with no infrastructure, of course they’re going to go to the cloud and adopt that way. And of course, enterprises that have terabytes and petabytes of information and customizations are more likely to be hybrid because it’s going to be difficult to move all of that across to the cloud,” Buckley explained.

The report offers some clarity of what a hybrid environment entails, as there are several possibilities. 

“While some customers consider ‘hybrid SharePoint’ to be running SharePoint on Azure virtual machines, others consider it to be the use of on-premises services that are integrated with Office 365 (such as single sign-on, or search). This report is focused primarily on the latter definition, although an Azure, private, or publicly-hosted SharePoint environment can also be considered a hybrid environment.”

Why SharePoint Online?

The report provides 47 pages of SharePoint insights, including an analysis of the number of seats and licenses on the market now. It also identified the reasons why companies move to SharePoint Online in the first place:

Learning Opportunities

  • Company strategy (54 percent)
  • Cost effective computing (49 percent)
  • Best technical option (45 percent)
  • Market pressure (43 percent)
  • Latest features (22 percent)
  • Security (19 percent)

It also identified the most popular tools and features currently in use in hybrid environments (including those who plan moving to a hybrid environment):

  • Single Sign-On (68 percent)
  • OneDrive for Business (66 percent)
  • Team Sites (63 percent)

Combine the is with the general features that enterprises use SharePoint for — collaboration, document management, document sharing and intranet services — and you get an idea of what current and future hybrid environments will look like. Buckley also predicted we will likely see a massive SharePoint revival in the coming years.

A SharePoint Revival

Since the beginning, SharePoint on-premises adoption has been hampered by the perception that SharePoint was, or is, difficult to use.

SharePoint Online was seen as a solution to this. Microsoft started pushing customers to the cloud, heavily marketing Office 365 with SharePoint Online as one of its cornerstones. With Office 365 now firmly established in the enterprise, it does indeed look as if SharePoint is experiencing a new lease of life. 

Buckley added:

“I anticipated a number of years ago that SharePoint would experience a revival. Keep in mind that 80 percent of people went to Office 365 for email. So, what happens and will happen — and I believe that we are starting to see the beginning of this — between hosted Exchange and all the other experiences on Office 365, organizations are starting to say, ‘hey there’s a lot or cool stuff on SharePoint for collaboration and intranets’ so they are now starting to look at using that."

Buckley also points to the fact that SharePoint is — in general — getting easier to use.

“A lot of the[criticisms] focused on specific experiences |in SharePoint]. So Microsoft goes out and develops and works on specific experiences and improves that,” he said.

“But you also have a whole bunch of vendors out there that are providing packaged experiences, these out-of-the-box intranets and things that are making it easier to cut through the complexity."

Microsoft Updates Its SharePoint Messaging

Until relatively recently, it was unclear where and what Microsoft's future plans were for SharePoint.

“It took Microsoft a long time to realize that their messaging was causing many long-time on-premises SharePoint customers concern, because the marketing message was all cloud. Enterprises began to fear that Microsoft was walking away from SharePoint, that SharePoint was dead, that they |Microsoft] were not investing,” Buckley said.

“It has never been true, but marketing messaging was bad. It took them a long time to change the messaging, to reassure people that they were not walking away from it."

The result is that we are now at SharePoint 2016 and Microsoft is talking about the next release. It currently has no sunset plans for on-premises SharePoint.

“They are now talking about a new release and every two to three years they will have another edition. They are talking about how to pull those clouds first, mobile first innovations into on-premises and provide those organizations that are in the cloud and which still have components of on-premises with support."