SharePoint in the Cloud (SharePoint Development and Governance Using COBIT 4.1)


Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010

The following is an excerpt from the book, "SharePoint® Deployment and Governance Using COBIT® 4.1: A Practical Approach," which can be purchased at book store.

Cloud computing is one of the hottest trends in information technology today. Heavyweights like IBM, Google and Microsoft are early to the game, slugging it out with one another to attract customers and capture a lucrative market characterized by nearly limitless scalability, high availability and a financial model that allows enterprises to categorize cash outlays as an expense rather than a capital expense. The ubiquitous high-speed connectivity, the proven reliability of the Internet and strong financial incentives are forcing organizations to not ask “if” but “when” they will move at least some of their infrastructure and applications to the cloud.

Microsoft is making a “big bet” on the cloud. They have built large data centers and bundled sets of applications optimized for delivery via the cloud. Offerings include familiar office tools such as Excel® and Word® with Windows Live®, SQL Server® with AzureTM, and communication and collaboration tools with BPOS. BPOS is particularly interesting because it contains cloud-based instant messaging, e-mail and calendar functions, web conferencing and SharePoint. BPOS is shaping up to be the next “killer app” from Microsoft.

Microsoft’s BPOS is not the only collaboration suite in the cloud. GoogleTM has launched Google Sites and Google Apps along with GmailTM and IBM® has launched LotusLiveTM. The Google and IBM products show promise, but they both are a few generations behind BPOS in terms of capability and market share momentum.A cloud-based or hosted SharePoint deployment presents unique governance challenges. We have faced these challenges first-hand and this chapter will provide guidance, tips, techniques and lessons we have learned on how to govern the full life cycle of the deployment and/or migration to SharePoint in the cloud and realize the maximum benefit for your enterprise.

Why Is SharePoint So Important to Enterprises Considering the Cloud?

Early adopters believed they would realize their biggest benefit by moving e-mail and instant messaging to the cloud. In practice, we have found that organizations are actually realizing their greatest benefits by leveraging SharePoint and similar collaboration tools hosted in the cloud to replace expensive in-house legacy applications or software applications as a service (SAAS) offerings. Leveraging SharePoint along with messaging and e-mail in the cloud offers a significantly higher return than only using the cloud for e-mail and instant messaging.

SharePoint’s impact was suspected, but has now been confirmed by our first-hand experience assisting large enterprises in moving thousands of users to BPOS. It is important to note that we are not suggesting that old technology be replaced. We see SharePoint directly replacing state-of-the-art applications for pennies on the dollar. Examples include replacement of in-house business intelligence (KPIs), reporting engines and state-of-the-art hosted customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

The availability of SharePoint in the cloud represents a point of inflection in technology and strategic differentiation for enterprises. It enables a new wave of innovation for the automation of manual and e-mail-centric processes and replacement of legacy applications without capital outlays to procure additional infrastructure to support these initiatives. We strongly recommend the following to all readers of this book:

Enterprises can realize significant cost savings and strategic advantage when using SharePoint in the cloud. Every organization interested in using SharePoint should examine hosting SharePoint in the cloud and evaluate it as a long-term strategy rather than deploying or maintaining SharePoint in-house.