When will SharePoint Online embrace customization?

Companies often customize SharePoint, but that’s not an option in the cloud. Will Microsoft remove that roadblock for SharePoint Online?

Microsoft’s roadmap for SharePoint clearly leads to the cloud, but users -- for the most part -- have been slow to follow.

Customization is a likely sticking point for many. A recent AIIM survey indicated that 85% of SharePoint users customize their deployments, and those modifications won’t work in the cloud with SharePoint Online. Is there any indication Microsoft will remove this barrier to cloud migration?

If you’re in the cloud, you are using somebody else’s servers, so if you’re using SharePoint Online you have to live with Microsoft tending those servers and do everything client-side.

From an efficiency standpoint, SharePoint Online denies users some functionality. When you’re managing an environment with 10,000 users on the same platform, the smallest tweaks to that platform are going to potentially impact a lot of customers and Microsoft can’t afford that; so they keep their side of things as standardized as possible. That makes it very difficult for you to do any kind of custom work from the client side, and you can’t do any custom work from the server side, since you don’t own the servers. 

That’s not likely to change soon, but it must change eventually. Microsoft will have to come up with better server-side architecture and better services that allow for more customization, without loss of efficiency. We’re not there yet, but I think Microsoft has heard loud and clear that’s what the user community wants.

Looking down the road, I think SharePoint 2016 may be the last on-premises version, because Microsoft is pushing very hard to get everyone into the cloud permanently. That’s three or four years down the line, but I think the company will support this latest on-premises version until probably 2020 -- as indeed they should. But Microsoft wants everyone in the cloud in the long run, so they really have no choice but to resolve these issues.

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