Top Concerns with Hybrid SharePoint: Third-Party Solutions

Editor’s note: This post is one in a series from CollabTalk CEO Christian Buckley called “Top Concerns with Hybrid SharePoint.” Read the other blogs in the series below: 

The history of SharePoint is the story of a very healthy and robust partner ecosystem. In fact, for many years I would tell customers to be sure to speak with the various vendors exhibiting at their local conference and the best source of real-world SharePoint deployment advice. While that guidance is still true, the quality and quantity of content out of Microsoft has dramatically improved (sorry, not trying to knock anyone of the SharePoint content team in the past), many of the leading vendors from 5 to 10 years ago are either gone, or they’ve changed considerably.

Why? Not all of the solutions that we’ve come to know and love have been able to make the move to the cloud. In some cases, that’s a good thing – the problems they tried to solve have often been resolved within the platform. In other cases, vendors have made the strategic decision not to recreate or re-architect their solutions for the cloud, due to the changing nature of the features and capabilities they seek to support.

For organizations considering a hybrid environment, part of your strategy for leveraging hybrid may be to continue getting value out of some of those 3rd party solutions, and out of your existing infrastructure. Some of those tools may only work with the on-premises portion of your environment, while others may have limited capabilities within the cloud – and until there is parity between on-prem and cloud capabilities, there is a business need for hybrid.

Quick Overview of Third Party Solutions for Hybrid SharPoint:

In this video, I once again talk with my former peer at Microsoft, Bill Baer (@williambaer), a Senior Technical Product Manager on the SharePoint team, on this topic of 3rd party solutions. Bill and I have talked many times on this topic – many of those discussions taking place a few years back while I was working at another ISV and the topic of hybrid was not widely accepted across Microsoft’s leadership team. Bill was always a voice of reason on the subject of hybrid, recognizing that long-time SharePoint customers had invested heavily in filling SharePoint’s many gaps through the use of 3rd party applications, and movement to the cloud would be impacted by this history.

Why are third party solutions for hybrid SharePoint important?

This topic continues to be important because there is not parity between the cloud and on-prem, nor is there parity in how 3rd party solutions work across these environments – if they work in the cloud at all.

The reality is that your SharePoint environment includes a number of ongoing systems and processes that employ the use of 3rd party solutions – business-critical process where SharePoint is only one aspect of the overall system. In many of these cases, organizations cannot simply detach from these solutions. While these companies may not be able to move to the cloud all at once, the cloud may enable a number of valuable collaborative scenarios that would benefit the business. The on-prem environments, with their deep integrations to these other tools and platforms, may necessitate a hybrid solution.

Microsoft Guidance

Microsoft has remained very bullish on the cloud, telling partners and customers alike that, long-term, organizations should be thinking about moving to the cloud and re-architecting outdated solutions in ways that will allow them to move to the cloud more easily in the future. It’s important to understand that this push toward the cloud is not just because of Microsoft’s investments in Office 365 Azure, but because all software and systems are moving in this direction due to the lower overall costs to build and support software as a service.

Microsoft’s primary guidance for the issue of 3rd party solutions, as with preparation for any migration, is to begin with an assessment of your existing system and solutions, and get an accurate accounting of what is out there. Companies need to identify whether there are cloud versions of these 3rd party solutions, and if not, to have a firm understanding of the gaps in capability between Office 365 out-of-the-box and what is truly needed to move away from these on-premises solutions.

How AvePoint can Help with Third Party Solutions for Hybrid SharePoint

It’s become a common theme within this series, but the place to begin is by assessing your system and knowing what, exactly, is in place and needed. You’ll need to know what 3rd party tools are in place today, whether Office 365 provides the native capability to replace them, and if not, whether the 3rd party tools have a cloud version available.

AvePoint’s powerful discovery tool can help your organization perform a discovery analysis to help you identify the many customizations within your environment, including 3rd party tools in use. Once you’ve identified what is running under the hood, you’ll be better prepared to build your plans for a hybrid environment.

But this topic is really a subset of the broader migration topic – and AvePoint has a rich history in providing migration tools and guidance.

You can find out more about the AvePoint Pre-Migration Discovery tool in this

Additional resources

AvePoint has a huge library of content, as well as experts on-hand, around various migration and management topics. However, I’ve assembled a short list of resources that will help you better plan for your hybrid environment:

  • The Benefits of Office 365 and File Share Integration [Blog]
  • AvePoint Hybrid Management for Office 365 and SharePoint [Product overview]
  • How to Navigate the Changing World of #SharePoint, #Office 365, and #Azure [Blog]
  • Business and IT Challenges in the Cloud [Blog]
  • 6 reasons to use SharePoint Out of the Box functionality [SharePointMaven]
  • Monitor apps for your SharePoint Online environment [Support.Office.com]

If you have specific questions on this topic – and specifically, questions about using AvePoint solutions in hybrid or cloud-based environments, please post your questions here, and myself or someone from the AvePoint team will respond.

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Christian Buckley

An Office Servers and Services MVP, internationally recognized author and speaker, Christian Buckley is Founder and CEO of the community-focused CollabTalk.