Over the past year, 60% of Fortune 500 companies have purchased Office365. Microsoft says it is their fastest growing commercial product ever. Businesses around the world are taking advantage of lower costs and the increased capabilities of the Cloud. As a decision maker for a business that leverages SharePoint, you’ve probably noticed the growth of SharePoint Online, which is available as part of Office 365 or as a standalone service. But with so much invested in your on-premises SharePoint environment, you may be questioning whether migration to SharePoint Online is the right decision. Below are five reasons why migrating to SharePoint Online is a good idea for your business.
1. Stop worrying about your farm’s performance. Let Microsoft handle it
It is regularly estimated that IT staff spends 80% of its time maintaining and supporting existing infrastructure and systems. This leaves only 20% towards technological innovation. An on premise SharePoint farm requires significant infrastructure and maintenance in order to ensure good performance. With SharePoint Online, Microsoft provides the infrastructure in their massive geo-redundant data centers with dedicated engineers monitoring and optimizing the performance round the clock. Who better to manage your SharePoint infrastructure than Microsoft? Migrating to the cloud cuts capital expenditures on infrastructure while also allowing IT staff to focus more on innovation. Cutting costs and increasing innovation is the best recipe for growing your business. If you aren’t doing it, you can be sure your competitors are.
2. Always the latest features
Microsoft is constantly innovating with over 120 enhancements to Office 365 in the last year. With SharePoint Online, your business can begin to leverage new features as soon as they are released. There is no need to upgrade to a new version of SharePoint. Below are some notable enhancements to SharePoint online. Some of these are available now and others will be rolling out soon:
- Integration with Delve, the personal search and discovery tool that fetches information you need before you even go looking for it (available now).
- Data Loss Prevention (DLP) capability which allows you to discover sensitive data that is stored in SharePoint lists and libraries and create policies that can take appropriate actions (some features available now, others in development).
- Document conversations which enable people to share ideas and expertise around Office documents, images and videos, directly in the context of editing or reviewing (rolling out).
- More mobile/touch enhancements to ensure a consistent experience across all devices (in development).
- User activity reports that will allow you to audit SharePoint and OneDrive for Business user actions such as views, edits, deletes, downloaded files, and sharing of files (in development).
To see the full roadmap for Office365, visit http://roadmap.office.com
3. Heighten security
Yes. I said heighten. Some organizations are initially skeptical of the Cloud because it is new to them or because of concerns around privacy and security. The truth is your SharePoint environment is probably safer in Microsoft’s data centers and here are some reasons why:
- Physical data center access is restricted to authorized personnel and multiple layers of physical security have been implemented, such as biometric readers, motion sensors, 24-hour secured access, video camera surveillance, and security breach alarms.
- For Government customers, the Office 365 Government Community Cloud provides an isolated, US based cloud infrastructure that complies with certifications and accreditations that are required for US Public Sector customers
- Data is encrypted both at rest and via the network as it is transmitted between a data center and a user.
- Threat management, security monitoring, and file/data integrity prevents or detects any tampering of data.
- Dedicated threat management teams proactively anticipate, prevent, and mitigate malicious access.
- Office365 is verified to meet requirements specified in ISO 27001, EU model clauses, HIPAA BAA, and FISMA.
- Your data is not mined or accessed for advertising purposes
- If a government approaches Microsoft for access to customer data, they redirect the inquiry to you, the customer, whenever possible and have and will challenge in court any invalid legal demand that prohibits disclosure of a government request for customer data.
The measures taken by Microsoft to secure data exceed the capabilities of many businesses – particularly small to medium sized businesses. For many, the move to SharePoint Online results in a more secure SharePoint environment.
To learn more about Microsoft’s approach to security and privacy, visit the Office 365 Trust center at https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office-365-trust-center-cloud-computing-security
4. It is not as hard as you might think
When I talk to clients that have large SharePoint implementations or significant customizations, they are often concerned about the complexity of migrating to the Cloud. In many cases, however, migration can be painless. Any migration project is simply a matter of having a plan and executing it with the right tools and the right people.
Here are a few points to consider:
- There are great tools to help whether you are moving some file shares or a farm with 10,000 sites. For example, Metalogix offers a tool called Content Matrix which provides a zero-downtime solution for migrating your SharePoint sites.
- Microsoft partners can help migrate your custom solutions and adapt them to the new “Add-In” model. You know – like that farm solution you are dreading to have to rewrite?
- Hybrid is an option for what you have to keep on premise. Some IT managers face a lot of pressure from legal departments or customers to keep certain data on-site. For those situations, you can leverage the hybrid capabilities of SharePoint. Hybrid allows you to decide what goes to the Cloud and what stays. The on-site footprint only needs to be large enough to accommodate the content that stays. Microsoft’s hybrid option allows you to maintain both environments while providing a seamless experience for end users. A great example of this is the unified search coming in SharePoint 2016 (also will be available as an update to SharePoint 2013).
5. It will be the last SharePoint migration you have to worry about
Many SharePoint veterans can remember migrations between versions 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013 in order to leverage the latest innovations from Microsoft. The good news is that once you migrate to SharePoint online you are done with SharePoint migrations.
Imagine you have a lease on a sports car that allows you to get the newest model whenever it is released. It always has the latest in-dash technology, gets the best gas mileage, has the most horsepower, and now it drives itself because…well… that’s the latest innovation. Once you migrate to SharePoint Online, it is like you are driving that car. Your business will always have the latest content and collaboration technology from Microsoft.
In this article, I’ve covered five reasons why migrating to SharePoint Online is a good decision for many businesses. The next step is to get to work on your migration plan. Need help? Call a Microsoft partner so they can help you plan and implement your migration with the many tools that are available.
As a manager with BlumShapiro Consulting, Joe Werner leads our Content and Collaboration Practice area. He helps businesses leverage technologies such as SharePoint and Yammer to innovate and improve business processes.