March 03, 2010, 8:56 PM — Oh, the temptation to put all your data in the cloud. Think of the savings on server and administrative costs. Think of how it will free up your IT staff to work on more business critical projects.
In research firm Forrester's Enterprise and SMB Software Survey for Q4 2009, 24 percent of respondents from North America and Europe revealed a fondness for SaaS (software as a service) compared to on-premise deployments.
A service such as e-mail, which has become commoditized, lends itself well to a cloud environment. But a behemoth like SharePoint is more complicated, mainly because it does so much: collaboration, document management, application development, the creation of corporate intranets.
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To date, deploying SharePoint in the cloud, either as a standalone or as part of Microsoft's BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), has not provided the level security, compliance, privacy and app compatibility that comes with on-premise deployments, writes Forrester analyst Rob Koplowitz in a new report titled "SharePoint 2010: A More Viable Cloud Option."
"With an on-premise deployment, you own the environment and you can take customization and integration in any direction you see fit," he writes.
However, the release this year of SharePoint 2010 will make the cloud option more enticing, predicts Koplowitz. Though it won't wipe out the need for on-premise SharePoint, particularly among large enterprises, SharePoint 2010 does "close the gap in functionality between the deployment options and opens up SharePoint Online to a wider range of applications," he writes.
At the SharePoint Conference in October 2009, Microsoft pledged that its 2010 updates to SharePoint Online will at least put it on par with the features of an on-premise SharePoint deployment.
While it's unlikely that SharePoint 2010 Online will reach parity with its on-premise brethren, Koplowitz writes, three key improvements to SharePoint 2010 will make the cloud option more viable for businesses.
SharePoint Online Dedicated will Ease the Introduction of Custom Code
Microsoft's dedicated hosted version of SharePoint 2010 (known as SharePoint Online Dedicated) is single-tenant, meaning it is limited to only your organization on dedicated hardware and software as opposed to the more shared infrastructure of multitenant hosted SharePoint 2010.