Monday, March 4, 2024
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Point-Counterpoint: SharePoint Online Hybrid Podcast

Who doesn’t love a good debate? We certainly do here at AvePoint. I recently sat down with some colleagues to debate topics around hybrid SharePoint. Hear what AvePoint Sr. VP of Product Strategy John Peluso and CollabTalk CEO and Founder Christian Buckley and I have to say about the ins, the outs, the ups, and the downs of SharePoint Online hybrid!

In the podcast, we cover:

  • Benefits of SharePoint Online hybrid
  • The future of SharePoint Online hybrid
  • Best practices for a SharePoint Online hybrid implementation
  • Hybrid use cases

Listen to the full podcast:

For even more information, best practices, and insights for hybrid SharePoint, register here for our FREE webinar at 2pm ET/11am ET on Wednesday, May 24 featuring our hybrid expert A-team!

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Keep the conversation going on Twitter! Tweet your questions to Christian (@buckleyplanet), John (@JohnConnected), and Rick (@slkrck).

Podcast Transcript

Rick: All right, fantastic. Everyone, welcome to AvePoint Point CounterPoint. My name is Rick Taylor. I’m strategic advisor with the Client Services division, and I have with me John Peluso and Christian Buckley. And this webinar will be about going back and forth on the discussion of on-premises versus Cloud and introducing a study by Christian Buckley talking about the hybrid SharePoint. So I’d like to let John and Christian introduce themselves. John, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

John: Yeah. My name is John Peluso. I’m senior vice president of product strategy here at AvePoint and was recently named a Microsoft regional director, which doesn’t mean I’m a regional director, nor does it mean I work for Microsoft, but it’s a great honor nonetheless.

Rick: It’s an honor.

John: It is really, really cool.

Christian: Congrats on that again, John.

John: Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

Rick: And Christian?

Christian: Yeah, so my name is Christian Buckley. I’ve been a long-time evangelist. I just left a chief marketing officer role with another ISV, but I’m a six-time SharePoint MVP and co-founder and CEO of CollabTalk LLC. And CollabTalk has been around the space for a few years. We are an independent research and technical marketing services company at our new founding of launch of this year. And I think what helps spark some of this conversation, our most recent project, of course, was the study on the state of the hybrid SharePoint ecosystem, which was sponsored by Microsoft and by AvePoint and several of the other leading Microsoft partners.

Rick: Excellent. Thank you so much. And a little bit of history, Christian and I actually used to work at Microsoft together for the original…

Christian: The beginning.

Rick: … of the 365…yeah, the old BPOS.

Christian: Well, prior to that, MMS…

Rick: Oh, yeah, MMS. That’s correct, yeah

Christian: …Microsoft Managed Solutions which…prior to BPOS, then got rebranded as BPOS or Business Productivity Online Services and then that got rebranded in…I think it was 2008.

John: I don’t know, man. I don’t know anybody that would put a BPOS t-shirt on that didn’t absolutely have to, so…

Rick: Hey, BPOS was… That rocked, man. I loved that. All right.

Christian: Yeah, not me. I was not a fan. But that’s a longer discussion, but yeah.

Rick: Fantastic. Well, we wanna get started here. We’ve got a few topics here. So, for those who are not familiar with the old news TV, there was a TV show. It was called “Point/Counterpoint” on CBS. It was prior to “60 Minutes.” The program would take one point, and then someone would take the complete opposite point. And they would go ahead and they’d argue back and forth and do a verbal beat-down on everyone. We’re not gonna do any verbal beat-downs here, but…

Christian: Well, maybe.

John: The night is young.

Rick: That’s true. We’d like to open this up here for our first topic of status of on-prem versus the Cloud and where are we going to…where is all this technology headed. Now, for me, being a consultant, I go out there. You know, I face the clients all the time. And when we try to pitch Cloud, we are met with an amount…a resistance that is just…they will not listen whatsoever. And being the trusted advisor, I take their points very seriously. I take their fears. And I don’t even try to resolve them. If they wanna stay on-premises, then, hey, let’s stay on-premises. I like that because I get all the control I want. If I want to patch, I could patch when I want to. I could determine when my upgrade schedule is. I think it’s fantastic. Now, I do understand that there are some pros, and I’m gonna let John talk to those. But, you know, try to convince me why I should go on-premises, John.

John: Well, I’m gonna do a difficult task. I’m gonna try to convince you, and one of my arguments is gonna be enhanced productivity. Now, given that there’s a…in previous…you know, of our presentations and so forth, one of the things we covered was there’s so much productivity in Office 365, you know, so many tools that sometimes it’s difficult to actually figure out what you’re doing. So let’s put that aside for half a minute and let me go way back to the beginnings of SharePoint. I go back to the 2003 days of SharePoint. That was my first implementation. And I remember doing seminars and sort of envisioning sessions for businesses where we said, “Hey, you guys are deploying Office. Check out this new technology. It’s super valuable.” Remember the Office servers, when that first came out?

Rick: Oh, yeah.

John: This was really cool, right? Well, there’s a whole now server component to Office, and SharePoint was one of those. And every one of those guys couldn’t care. They said, “Wait a minute. It’s bad enough they want me to roll out Office every three years. You think I’m gonna do this too? Forget about it.” Six months later, 8 months later, 12 months later, every one of those guys was in my training center because the business had demanded SharePoint. So I don’t think that this is a question of whether we want to have what the Cloud is offering or not.

So two things on that front, number one, if the organization, from an IT perspective, is taking the position that they’re never gonna go to the Cloud, it’s gonna happen, whether they know it or not. So people are gonna go to the Cloud. And if they’re not…

Christian: And the likelihood is that they’re already on their way, and their employees are just not. If they get that attitude, their employees are probably not telling them what they’re doing. It’s that whole rogue IT movement, the shadow IT that we do see happening.

John: Right. Right. And I think…

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Rick: Now, I’ve worked with some government clients, and they’re like, “You know what? We’re not doing that.” I’ve worked with a couple of federal agencies that are saying, “You know what?” They put their foot down. And I understand what they’re saying. I mean, I really do. And I feel for them, and I do see their point. So when you say that, you know, they’re gonna go there eventually, hmm, really?

John: Yeah. So, I mean, one of the things that I…and part of this, right, part of this is the prejudice of the world you live in, right? So part of the world that I live in is, you know, out there, and I do a fair amount of Cloud business and consultation with our customers. So I’m probably a little bit more tilted towards that. But I can just look at the past three or four years. And, you know, large customers, I sat in a large global financial, and the guy said to me, “Look, I can’t go. I can’t go because I don’t have this, this, this, this, and this. But the second I can go, I’m going, because why do I wanna worry about running the plumbing and keeping the electricity on? That’s not my business.”

I was at a seminar last week with global financial sort of CISOs and CIOs. and as you can imagine, SaaS was a big topic, and one after another, came up to me. These are guys that had done very successful, you know, organizations that were super capable of running IT services. And they said, “I’m not in the IT services business. Why would I be? Why would I put the effort in? Can we do it? Sure. Can we be good at it? Sure. But why would be wanna be? That doesn’t make us money.”

Christian: Well, I mean the bigger question, though, that we started with, it was like what is the state? I mean, where are we moving with this? I mean, the reality is that…and I think this is a perfect example of everyone’s favorite answer to any question about SharePoint is, “Well, it depends, you know, whether you can or can’t, should or shouldn’t move those things across, what assets, what workloads, what data to move across.” The reality is that it is happening. It’s underway. It’s a lot slower than Microsoft thought initially.

I think they’ve really…what’s changed here in the last couple of years and even with the latest…it’s not just this hybrid SharePoint study that my team put out, but also Microsoft just released a six-month study of a Cloud adoption, Cloud readiness research project. And that data showed again that it’s slower than Microsoft predicted around that, because a lot of the things, which we’ll talk about here in a few minutes, I’m sure, there are some things that are more difficult and that there are valid reasons for customers – some customers – to move across.

But, John, I agree with you that there are…you know, most of the customer conversations I’m having are much along the same way, saying, “Right now, we don’t see it because we’re stuck by these requirements. There are…”

John: They have blockers, right?

Christian: Right. There are those blockers. There are other organizations that they may say, “Well, we just don’t think it’s that secure.” And some of those, the reality of the security, you know, issues versus, you know, the perceptions there, I think, some ways sometimes that falls away when you really dig in and understand what they’re trying to do. And then, you find out, oh, they already have all of their…like their exchange servers are out in the cloud already, that they are using cloud-based CRM or ERP solutions. I mean, there’s a lot of other things that are out there where…you know, I think of the old Palmolive ads like “You’re already soaking in it,” you know?

Rick: Right.

Christian: Now, see, but that, that’s a perfect example, that Palmolive. Madge, the lady, immediately put that lady’s hand in the dishwashing soap. Now, that was her…

John: That’s what we gotta do.

Christian: That was her strategy, right. She didn’t even let them know. So there’s this thing going on…

John: This is starting to sound even more like Office 365. I will get to the end. It has like 100 groups.

Christian: And your hand was in it. That’s right.

John: That’s it. I had 100…

Rick: And John, you didn’t even know it. You didn’t even know it.

Rick: Of course. Is this a full-on strategy, or is this just something that’s going to happen organically?

Christian: Well, one thing that’s clear is that no millennial is gonna understand what we’re talking about, but I think they’ll look this up, but just…

John: Yeah, let’s be honest. I don’t think that was our audience anyway.

Christian: Yeah, and I think that’s a good transition too. But, you know, part of our study in going to look at, again, just the SharePoint portion of it, not being…diluting the data with, you know, those that are in hybrid because they are doing exchange…yeah, this is specifically looking at SharePoint, where based on the number of environments that are, for organizations today, it’s about a $10 billion ecosystem today as our best number, public numbers out of Microsoft. The portion that is organizations that are doing hybrid solutions is about $3.2 billion. In the next three years, the size of that pie gets larger. We’re estimating $5.3 billion. So what’s happening is that the largest portion going from today, about a third to almost half, to 46% of all environments, will be hybrid in the next 3 years. We’re very confident in that number.

John: Yeah. So, Christian, one of the things that I was interested in in that study was the large number of folks that are still on SharePoint 2010. It looked like there was a significant number. I think it was somewhere around 20% that were still on SharePoint 2010. Now…

Christian: In addition to running other versions, right, I mean, the average number of versions of people running it still like almost 3. It’s like 2.8 versions.

John: Right, right, right, right. So, I mean, what do we infer from that, right? Is our people taking a wait and see attitude? Is that a bombed out, no longer business critical, you know, SharePoint deployment that’s just laying there? What do we think? Is that really…is in part, you know, gonna be a signal for what’s going forward? If people are going hybrid, the best practice advice, right, is to be, at minimum, up to SharePoint 2013, 2016 even better, right? So if you show me customers on 2013, 2016, that’s a commitment to hybrid as far as I’m concerned because those are the platforms you gotta get to. Do you guys agree?

Rick: You know, I had a customer that was still on SharePoint 2007. Actually, I take that back. They were using WSS 3.0.

John: Nice.

Rick: So, when the topic went to when would you like to go to the cloud? When would you like to go to SharePoint online? Oh, let me tell you, that just opened up a whole can of worms right there. They’re like, “Wait a minute. We know what we have.” And I think a lot of it has to do with the unknown, okay? Once I go up to the cloud, what can I expect? Hybrid still lets me keep my foot on solid ground, so to speak, with the other foot in the cloud.

Christian: But to your point, John, though, if you’re…look, 2007, there’s very limited capabilities from the officially supported hybrid solution. So I’d say 2007, you’re a little bit more limited. There are options with 2010, and they’ve been around for a while, single sign-on, of course, the federated search capability of it, and there’s a few other things as well. But when you look at it differently where it becomes more of a data store around those things…I mean, back to your original question is, you know, that you have a customer still on that ancient system probably because they went and have customizations that work, that serve their business needs and still provide value. So why go and break that thing?

Rick: That’s exactly the point. Exactly.

Christian: Yup. But then on the other side of that is to have a conversation about what that really is and to go and flesh out, “Well, does the cloud now have an out-of-the-box? Can you do 80%?” Like where…at what point, what functionality from your custom solution is missing that you can’t accomplish out of the box or configure? And there may be plenty of other reasons, and that’s why it’s a valid strategy for hybrid to keep those systems, those workloads that need to remain there for all of those reasons that are valid, yet still be able to access that data. Maybe it’s just indexing it, and it’s just that it’s searchable and available, but the end user just doesn’t know, like I’m…same content upon this old environment or out in the cloud. They don’t care. They just wanna go to one place, search, and find it.

John: Yeah. So quick question for both of you, guys. I’m curious as to how you’ll answer this. Is your experience that most people love their SharePoint?

Rick: I think they have a love-hate relationship. They love and hate it.

Christian: There’s so much within that pause there, right?

John: That’s what we call a pregnant pause.

Christian: I have something that I really hate, but I have to have it.

John: Wait a minute.

Christian: I love it personally. When SharePoint 2003 came out, I deployed it in my house. I had an on-premises exchange server. I had a domain controller. I had SharePoint. And that was because my kids were in school and I traveled a lot. And so I had their homework inside SharePoint. And my kids have learned how to, you know, get email and access the web since they could read. And so it was easy for me to check in, check out their homework and do it while I was on the road. So I love SharePoint, especially on-premises, because I’ve got all the control. So, you know, do you love your SharePoint? Maybe I’m the outlier. I love every bit of it. Everything about SharePoint, I love.

John: You know what? And I’m not even…the question wasn’t even intended to ask do you love SharePoint. It was do you love your SharePoint? And I think that’s the key, right? And, again, you know, part of this is the prejudice of perspective, right? But, you know, I think, you know, a lot of customers that we deal with, it’s a given, right? The natural tendency of any SharePoint deployment is towards chaos, right? We know that.

Christian: Which is true. Yeah, we all go to entropy. That’s correct.

John: Yeah, yeah. And so, you know, I think maybe if we get back to the idea of hybrid not as something you’re held hostage to, but a customer saying, “Hey, I’m gonna be hybrid because I really, really want my on-premise.” Christian, you mentioned before some of common scenarios that we all know, right? So some people are gonna be stuck there because they’ve got customizations. The guy died, the guy left, who knows how it’s built, right? They don’t wanna reinvest. And so they’ll be stuck with some full trust code on-prem and some customizations that maybe they serve a really important purpose in the business. I wouldn’t necessarily say that that…in my world of thinking about a strategy, I mean, that’s good. I’ll be able to connect to what’s new.

But if we talk strategy, I think we also have to look at the other side of it, right? There’s the business’s reality, but what is the user’s reality? What is the experience of a user in hybrid? Do any of us feel that the hybrid experience of a user the way we can do it today is gonna be seamless and not confusing? Well, that’s somewhat not fair because just being in Office 365 can be confusing. But, now, we’re navigating across different places. Where do I create something? Where do I go? Where is this stuff stored? Where do I have to check? How come this screen looks different than this? And when I go to this library, it looks different than this?

Christian: Which is why you need to go in there. You can’t just go and say, “Hey, we now hooked in, and you can access all of these, you know, old sites.” And look, you have to have a plan. You have to have a strategy and understand, hey, look, here’s where some of the tradeoffs might be. And it might be that you go down as part of this strategy that, look, there are team sites that are out there that have these customizations that are these primary workloads. These teams for these use cases rely on these sites, and that’s why we’re keeping the on-prem environment where it is.

So there might be terabytes or petabytes of information that are behind those processes, and it makes sense to keep it there. And maybe there’s concern about security, I mean, whatever the reasons are for that. But you’re right. You have to then go look at, you know, well, what’s the best path forward? And I think that there’s plenty of guidance that’s out there through partners, through FastTrack as well that say, “Well, in that kind of scenario, there are certain best practices for going and creating that federated…you know, that search experience, so that all net new team sites that are developed are done in the cloud. You’re not going and creating net new sites, locations, environments off of that old infrastructure, but just using it more, you know, accessing it for those workloads.

But that’s something that you need to think about thoughtfully, carefully, go and plan out so that you can build that environment in a way that’s gonna be pleasing to the end user, because I think that has been a mistake of SharePoint organizations all along is a strong…I’d say, you know, a win in the online side of things is because the user experience has greatly improved, and so you wanna have that superior, you know, user experience and that, out of the box, give end users that rich user experience so that they’re going to want to come and not just go there to drop off their files and have a very expensive file share in SharePoint, but that they’re actually getting work done within that system.

So that’s been the appeal of a lot of these cloud-based, these other competing technologies, and why Microsoft went in and said, “You know, we need to fix this. We need to go add more, innovate more, come up with these, you know, these end-to-end solutions or experiences, but have also now realized over the last couple of years with all the push-backs from these organizations that did spend countless hours and people and revenues, you know, building out SharePoint on-prem that they need to be able to continue to get value out of those systems as well.” So you have to look at those tradeoffs and make some decisions.

John: So what I’m hearing, Christian, and I think I totally agree, it’s be deliberate, right? Be deliberate about how you approach the concept of hybrid and not just, hey, I’m gonna build a bridge between the two and, you know, that’s a hybrid deployment. Hybrid deployments gotta be deliberate in terms of there are things that happen here, there are things that happen here, and this is how we’re gonna enable that working collaboration to happen in the way that we want. So I think I totally agree with that.

The other thing that I was sitting here thinking as you were talking was, you know, the tendency when we talk about a “hybrid” deployment. It’s kind of a misnomer. It is not a hybrid deployment. It is two deployments with a bridge between them. And it’s a more honest way of approaching it because, you know, as we’ve discussed privately, these are two different products, SharePoint online and SharePoint on-prem. Even though they’re both SharePoint, they’re different products. They behave differently. They act differently. They could be sort of used differently.

Christian: You’re also administering two separate systems.

John: Yep.

Christian: So if you wanna go run a report that you are required, you own…you’re the admin of…you’re the owner of SharePoint, you’re running it off of your two different systems and all the data may not align. So you have to rethink just how you build your dashboards to report to your executive team.

John: Yeah. Yeah, I think I agree. I agree with that much.

Rick: I totally get with that. So we’re coming up on our time limit here, but what I’d like to do is kind of switch the topic here to some use cases for hybrid. I know we talked a lot a little bit about that. But why…convince me, right, the on-premises guy, of a situation, using a situation where, you know what, you need to use hybrid because…and then fill in the blank.

John: Yes. So I’m gonna cheat, right? So because I’m taking the Office 365 perspective, I don’t have to just decide on a use case for SharePoint. I can decide on any use case across all of Office 365, right? So the one thing that I think is important to recognize is that, you know, if we all remember the SharePoint sort of pie slide that was presented time and time again, SharePoint on-prem was trying to be a collaboration system, a social system, you know, a data intelligence, a business intelligence system, a file repository. It was trying to be all of those things.

And online, it doesn’t need to be. We can offload, for example, the idea of where do I do my work management and my tasks? I don’t have to rely on users to take the stock task list, build it out, customize it, add metadata, and turn it into something they can use, right? They have a ready-made, easy, simple interface and planner they can use. Same thing with teams, right, teams and chats, and so forth.

So the use cases that I would say is think about the collaboration strategies that your organization have and decide where to put those workloads. Very likely, if you’re in a hybrid organization, the majority of your net new collaboration should be happening in Office 365. The tools are there. It’s quicker. It’s easier for the users, and it’s more modern. Yes, you’ll still have legacy file repositories. Yes, you’ll still have legacy applications that are running there in SharePoint.

We have…in AvePoint, I mean, we have a hybrid deployment. We’re heavily invested in Office 365. But there’s still some SharePoint ’13 hanging around and some SharePoint ’07 hanging around. I know that every time I get an expense report to fill out, I’m gonna have to go to SharePoint 2007. But that’s the only workload still running on that server. So I think the question is to just place those workloads, right, understand what types of collaboration, and plan for it because you’re gonna have to guide the users there.

Christian: Yeah, and I think that…kinda the same thing. I don’t know a specific like customer use cases because, again, it’s that whole “it depends” thing. But look, there are certain realities of organizations these days is that, increasingly, we are geographically dispersed. That is a strong, you know, nod towards considering the cloud, of looking at the new functionalities, as John said, the better user experience, I mean all of those things. But then the reasons like…you want all of those things. But then you also…you know, the reasons for having a hybrid solution there would be that you wanna access those legacy systems, that you may have some intellectual properties sitting in one location and that the security requirements, the customers that you’re working with are such that you are not able to yet, at this stage, move it over to these other environments. Maybe you are legally required to hold on to that.

You look at some countries, and I’m thinking of Germany, it’s like there are strict legal requirements. Whether or not the companies are willing to put things out in the cloud, it’s not even an option if there are these restrictions that are there, and yet do you deny your end users, you know, the new functionality, the better improved usability, the user experience, all of those things, which, again, comes back to, well, what’s the best of both worlds is hybrid. Go and, you know, meet those requirements while taking advantage of the new. That’s what hybrid allows you to go and do.

Is it hard? Yes. Are there a lot of other things that you need to do, a lot of other additional overhead administration for that? Yes, there are. That’s why you need to be very thoughtful, you know, on those decisions. But it’s why the majority of organizations who have been long time SharePoint shops are considering hybrid as their strategy because it’s allowing them to, you know, kind of straddle both sides of the argument and get what they need done while still adhering to their strict requirements.

John: So, Christian, you’re reminding me of something I say all the time. You can have cake and pie, but you’re gonna have twice as many dishes.

Christian: Exactly.

John: All right.

Rick: Wow, that’s deep.

Christian: Boom. It’s like a cowbell moment right there. Boom.

Rick: So, you know, Christian, you discussed this in your report. You know, I’d love to give a plug there. It’s downloadable, correct?

Christian: It is. So you can get it…so I don’t know if it rolls off the tongue. I know there’ll be in the resources here for this. But, you know, AvePoint has that so you can get it from that site. And, of course, if you go to, my site, you’ll be able to find the link as well.

Rick: Fantastic. I would highly recommend everyone getting a copy of that. It is available at, and you can go ahead and download that and take a gander at that. There’s a lot of prescriptive advice there. It’s an excellent piece of reading material. It’s not light reading. I will tell you that right off.

Christian: There’s a little bit of data in there, yes.

Rick: It is not light reading, but, yes, so we would love to have everybody get a copy of that as well as talking about…we’ll be talking with you soon again, right, with Bill Baer?

Christian: Yeah. So that is…we’ve got a webinar happening, and then we’re gonna do another podcast. We’re gonna get into it again. You know, I’m not sure which side of the fence the Point-CounterPoint is gonna be with Bill. I think we’re all just gonna be in agreement.

Rick: No, that will definitely be a verbal beat-down. Another thing about the…Bill was my officemate at Microsoft when…over at BPOS, so yeah. So we love to have our little parlay. But that would be May 24th at 1400 Eastern Time or 2 p.m. Eastern time, and we’re looking forward to having everyone attend that. But right now, I’d love to thank John and Christian for participating in this webinar. Thank you, gentlemen.

Christian: Hey, thanks a lot.

John: Thanks. It was a pleasure.


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