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Do the benefits of hybrid SharePoint outweigh the drawbacks?

Microsoft is adding new features to accommodate hybrid SharePoint users, but challenges remain, and the SharePoint roadmap likely still leads to the cloud, says an expert.

It really depends on the customer.

We'll see implementations of hybrid SharePoint for at least two years. I'm not sure we can predict more hybrid implementations beyond that, partially because Microsoft is creating a very compelling case for SharePoint to be entirely in the cloud. They are creating all of the services necessary for customers to shift workloads from their data centers into the cloud.

But in the short term, this hybrid SharePoint environment is something we're going to continue to see, and Microsoft has done a number of things to try to make that happen, including being able to connect the directory services of Azure AD, as an example, so we can create a single sign-on, creating the ability to connect a company's network to Azure or Office 365 through a virtual private network (VPN). These facilities are making it easier to create those connections and make it feel a little bit more like a unified platform, even though part of that infrastructure is hosted in the cloud and part of it is on premises.

But there are some challenges in a hybrid environment. If you run search, for example, SharePoint Online today and the search function really isn't equipped to provide visibility into data sources that aren't hosted within that cloud infrastructure. So, if you wanted true enterprise search, you're likely going to have to implement that on premises, and that requires more skill to include all of the online storage.

There are some data sources that don't easily connect into the cloud. Part of that can be answered by creating a VPN, but if you have, say, Oracle E-Business Suite or SAP as your ERP system, how willing are you to connect that to a cloud-based service? So, in that scenario a hybrid solution may not make as much sense. Those kinds of decisions will need to be made on a customer-by-customer basis.

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