SharePoint has been around from “Tahoe” (SharePoint Portal Server 2001) to “Today” (SharePoint Server 2016), providing organizations around the world with features like Document and Records Management, Electronic Forms, Enterprise Search, and more. However, over the last five years, the traditional on-prem version of SharePoint has been ported to the Office 365 version.

This often beckons the question: “How do organizations move to the cloud?” Well, the answer (in consultant speak) is “That depends.” Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s break down what that means.

Factors That Impact a Cloud Migration

Here are a few examples of the kinds of things you should look out for when considering a cloud migration:

  • Do you have any customizations deployed to your on-prem SharePoint environment?
  • Are you running InfoPath?
  • How does data residency legislation affect your organization?
  • Which third-party products are you running?

These are some of the questions that IT managers and business users need to think about before considering the move to SharePoint Online.

However, what does SharePoint Online offer that SharePoint Server doesn’t?

Differences Between SharePoint Online & SharePoint Server


Bringing Hybrid Into the Conversation

After reading about online functionalities, organizations are sure to herd their on-prem content repositories to the cloud, right? After all, “That depends” and “It’s not that cut and dry” aren’t the reactions you’re hoping for.

Yet, Microsoft has been spending a lot of time and effort on discussing the hybrid infrastructure. Technically, hybrid is defined as the combination of two or more separate elements, but how does that fit into your collaboration and cloud migration strategy?

In short, hybrid allows organizations to have information assets co-exist between SharePoint Server on-prem and SharePoint Online. But why? Why not just flip the “Migrate” switch and move all of your content to the cloud? Well, you can’t. It’s simply not possible. (More on that later!)

Let’s dive into why you should consider a hybrid deployment. 

Why It’s Easier to Go Hybrid Than Move to the Cloud

Let’s clear up any confusion by listing the reasons why it’s easier to go hybrid than move to the cloud:

Custom apps

With hybrid, you can keep your applications on-premises and access them through the hybrid app launcher.

Data Residency

Leave sensitive and regulated content on-premises and access them through unified search and hybrid taxonomy.


By redirecting your users to OneDrive for Business instead of their personal My Sites, you can save on storage costs.

Content Security

By using multi-factor authentication through Azure Active Directory, you can implement conditional access policies for users attempting to access corporate data from unsecured locations.


Allow your users to collaborate effectively with your clients and suppliers through hybrid business-to-business sites.

Benefits of a Hybrid SharePoint Environment

A hybrid SharePoint environment can enable organizations to enjoy a number of advantages that are exclusive to an on-prem and cloud environment. Here are the top five benefits of a hybrid SharePoint environment:

  1. Adhere to compliance regulations like GDPR.
  2. Combat Shadow IT by providing users with go-to-market tools for sharing and collaborating with internal and external users.
  3. Save costs on storage, high availability, scalability, and third-party products that have similar functionality to applications that ship with Office 365.
  4. Consume the rich features that Microsoft releases weekly.
  5. Empower the mobile workforce with applications that leverage both on-prem and cloud content.


What does intelligent cloud collaboration look like? In a sense, hybrid is not a journey, but rather, an end state. Organizations can provide the best of both worlds through hybrid features in Office 365 and Azure, and can manage how their users consume and create content and services.

Additionally, hybrid enables regulatory compliance, ensures user adoption, and provides the ability for users to work methodically through the smorgasbord of legacy applications that would need to be rebuilt or decommissioned—all while providing the richness of features within Office 365.

To sum up, the future of collaboration is hybrid.

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