During the #CollabTalk tweetjam held May 29th, 2014 (check out http://twubs.com/collabtalk/), our panel of experts and members of the community shared their experiences and advice surrounding what it takes to get SharePoint hybrid deployments right. You can find a tweet-by-tweet summary on Storify. This article focuses on the third question asked: "How much of hybrid SharePoint is platform versus services?"
I knew the question was a bit ambiguous, and figured we would see a range of answers. It turns out that the group needed a little more detail, after which the responses opened up. The primary definition of services around which the responses focused on was 'web services,' or the communication between two electronic devices or systems. Many of the initial answers followed this pattern, with Microsoft IT Service Engineer and IT Pro, Jared Shockley (@jshoq), BA Insight CTO, Jeff Fried (@jefffried), and SharePoint MVP and ITUnity co-founder Dan Holme (@danholme) talking about the increased usage of cloud-based services in how people approach the broader SharePoint platform.
At that point, I expanded on the definition to also mean the amount of "elbow grease" involved in building out a hybrid SharePoint deployment. The reason I wanted to include this perspective is that I am increasingly hearing from customers that there is a lot of confusion out there about how turn-key hybrid solutions can be, and people are generally unaware of how much up front configuration, and ongoing management is required to make hybrid work.
Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny), CTO at ManyWorlds, and Matt Varney (@thevarnish), intranet manager at KCTCS, were quick to respond to this modified definition -- with Matt providing the classic SharePoint answer to any problem that is bigger than a breadbox. And SharePoint MVP, consultant and trainer Asif Rehmani (@asifrehmani) followed up with a confirmation of my primary point:
SharePoint MVP and MCM Tom Resing, the resident SharePoint expert at Jive Software (@resing) brought up a great point -- and a concern for many in the partner ecosystem at this stage of SharePoint's life in the cloud.
I think Microsoft would argue that there are service opportunities beyond migration and hybrid setup, including app development, and other still-maturing services such as cloud-based workflow and form development, and ongoing management of cloud assets. My take on this is that the ecosystem as we know it today changes dramatically as the cloud becomes the dominant method through which we collaborate -- but it also opens up entirely new value propositions for product and services companies. It's going to be a difficult transition for many companies, for sure, but as SharePoint reaches the long-tail of customers through Office 365's rapid growth, opportunities will also rapidly grow.
But I think Thomas Carpe (@thomascarpe), founder and principal SharePoint architect at Liquid Mercury Solutions, summarized things perfectly with his statement about focusing on the needs of the customer:
As experts, consultants and vendors within the SharePoint space, we often get caught up in how the changes to the SharePoint ecosystem affect our business models, products, and services -- but at the end of the day, it should be about better meeting the needs of our customers. Although building out hybrid solutions on SharePoint may require more configuration, rebuilding solutions that had otherwise been working fine in SharePoint on prem but that now need to be configured for the cloud, and a stronger focus on management and governance across your on prem and online assets -- if this is what it takes to meet customer needs, then it’s the right path forward.
In the 4th article in this series, we'll address the complexity behind making SharePoint search work in a hybrid environment.