At the very heart of Microsoft’s enterprise software lies SharePoint. Like a centralized ‘ecosystem’ for collaboration, it offers organizations Business Intelligence (BI), enterprise search functionality, intranet solutions, document management, automation workflow capabilities and social networks.
As we know, all businesses are unique and require software solutions that are equally unique. In fact, very rarely have I worked on a SharePoint project that hasn’t required some form of customization. Whether it is a custom web part, security provider, or branding solution, all of these adaptions require thinking ‘outside of the box’ to create the best solution to fit the business need. Customizing these SharePoint farms requires profound thinking on many levels.
As SharePoint continues to expand its footprint I am seeing our clients increasingly require flexible architectures. As a leader of a team that implements SharePoint solutions, it’s my responsibility to offer strategic advice to our clients on the implications of taking different approaches towards customization, as well as making them aware of the trade-offs involved.
SharePoint 2013 is a comprehensive solution that has given birth to numerous approaches for our clients to consider. The product has moved above and beyond our conventional understanding of customization towards an approach that is future proof.
One of these approaches involves a shift towards cloud strategy, even for those who aren’t going to the cloud. Adopting a cloud strategy towards setup and customizations is undoubtedly a key approach to take note of for the 21st century. With the ever-growing push from Microsoft to get companies to move to the cloud, it is indeed proving to be one of the most tried and tested configurations. It’s going to become increasingly difficult for companies to ignore the benefits that the cloud product offers. Not to mention the benefits of the new hybrid implementations being introduced (part on premises, part cloud).
The move to cloud computing is not just about improving the underlying technology; there are compelling business reasons to consider. On the surface, cloud-based applications offer countless benefits such as reducing long-term costs and simplified future upgrades. According to Forrester Research, the global market for cloud computing will grow from $40.7 billion in 2011 to more than $241 billion in 2020. That’s approximately a 488% increase in less than one decade. It is certainly the way the future is headed.
And speaking of the future, one part of adopting a cloud strategy is using the App Model approach to development on SharePoint 2013. Its main focus is to move customizations off of the SharePoint farm, with a view to increase the stability and maintainability of both the SharePoint environment as well as the custom code. This approach is also a requirement when customizing a SharePoint cloud environment. Yes, it may require some additional upfront capital to fund the project, but it’s reassuring to know that the benefits down the line will far outweigh the initial costs.
Many businesses recognize that cloud computing may be the next technological trend to incorporate into their overall business plan. But when it comes to the decision of hosting SharePoint on-premises or moving it into the cloud, as well as how much to customize, there is never one right answer. That’s up to the organizations to decide. Like everything else, cloud computing too has its pros and cons. While the technology can prove to be a great asset to your company, it could also cause harm if not understood and used properly. So, whether to adopt a cloud strategy – ensure that you’re working with people who understand the supporting and opposing arguments.