A not-exactly-scientific survey of random SharePoint users walking around Microsoft’s SPC ’14 in March has revealed that investments in SharePoint are growing, though not so strongly in Office 365, where Microsoft is trying to lead its customer base.
The survey, conducted by SharePoint tool provider Metalogix, was conducted the old-fashioned way, with pens and paper, so the questioners could rephrase confusing questions or ask for clarification of a response. The result is better data than a simple checkbox or e-mail poll.
Eighty-three percent of respondents indicated that in the next 12 months, their expectation is that SharePoint will be more important to their organization than it is now, and 75% said the number of users of SharePoint will increase. Perhaps most importantly, 60% said their budget for SharePoint projects will increase.
As for Office 365 uptake, 9% of respondents said they are already using SharePoint features in Office 365. When asked how they’re using it, 3% said they will move “everything” into Office 365 (so we presume that’s documents, workflows, site collections and all that), while 29% said they would use Office 365 for some separate content, and 59% said they have “no plans right now” to use Office 365.
The expected gain from moving to Office 365 is cost reduction, both in terms of infrastructure and operations, as well as its ability to provide access any time, anywhere.
But the top concerns of Office 365 were somewhat surprising, according to Jignesh Shah, CMO of Metalogix. “The top concern for users was not security, which you might expect, but the loss of control,” he said. “People say, ‘I don’t know where any of my stuff is,’ or ‘I have no control over the update cycles,’ or ‘I can’t use the tools I use on premises.’ The majority of customers want to stay on premises.”
Meanwhile, migrating to newer versions can also be problematic, because if you’re on anything earlier than SharePoint Server 2010, there is no direct migration path to 2013. And, with Microsoft having announced that the next version of SharePoint Server will be released in 2015, Metalogix CTO Trevor Hellebuyck said, “I don’t expect [the next version of] of SharePoint to support anything but an upgrade from 2013. So, skipping over versions (for upgrades) is becoming very difficult, if not impossible.”
Another challenge to migration, said Hellebuyck, is that the level of sophistication of SharePoint deployments has increased. “Years ago, SharePoint was used as a basic file store and collaboration system. Now we’re seeing integrations with line-of-business systems, business process automation… Content is still a big piece, but the capabilities build around it are more sophisticated, so migration might be risky due to those customizations.”
What Metalogix is seeing, Hellebuyck said, are parallel installations, in which SharePoint 2010 is running older workloads and 2013 is running newer workloads.
Finally, he said, “If you have full trusted solutions, a move to 2013 or Office 365 is problematic. There’s more than just forklifting your stuff onto the next version.”
Shah described a SharePoint migration as a move into a new house. “The bedroom might be larger, and the living room might be smaller, so your furniture might not fit in exactly the same way, or in the same layout, as it did in your old house,” he said. “Things don’t go exactly in the same place. A cleanup and reorganization is involved.”
In that same vein, a migration to newer versions of SharePoint provides an opportunity to “do some housekeeping and address the sins of the past.”