In-Depth

5 Tools for SharePoint/Office 365 Hybrid Collaboration

As Office 365 growth continues to rise, most organizations using SharePoint Online look to integrate with on-premises versions.

The number of users subscribing to Microsoft Office 365 is now up to 4.4 million, making it one of the fastest-growing mainstream cloud services. While Microsoft is seeing strong momentum for Office 365 -- especially among those looking to move away from running Exchange Server on-premises -- it's less clear how many are using SharePoint Online.

A number of indicators suggest the number is on the rise, albeit incrementally. For example, a survey by tools vendor Metalogix International GmbH conducted during the recent SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas found only 9 percent were using Office 365, while 59 percent indicated they plan to keep their SharePoint infrastructures on-premises. That's because Office 365 doesn't currently allow users to move their custom-developed apps to the cloud. But Office 365 is well-suited for hybrid deployments where portions run on-premises and others via Office 365. According to the survey, 29 percent plan such hybrid deployments.

Demand for Office 365 has doubled since last year, while a large number of organizations are planning to roll out SharePoint 2013, Metalogix CEO Steven Murphy says. "More importantly, the enterprise has made a decision what content will stay on-premises and what will be deployed on Office 365," Murphy says. As a result, there are a number of tools that help organizations migrate, deploy and manage SharePoint and Office 365.

K2 Appit
K2 released a version of its workflow platform that lets business users create workflows that work with both SharePoint 2013 and Office 365. The latest release of K2 Appit lets users build workflow processes that can pull from lists and libraries across various SharePoint sites and different versions of the Microsoft collaboration platform, whether on-premises or online. The new K2 Appit release also lets users create custom forms and workflows and tie SharePoint content with data in other business systems. It's also optimized for building mobile apps, while letting users reuse workflow. K2 Appit is now available as a service and as perpetual licenses.

Metalogix Content Matrix
Metalogix launched a new version of its Content Matrix, which includes a SharePoint migration tool. The new Content Matrix 7 offers substantially improved performance, more fine-grained permissions, which let administrators delegate certain functions to trusted business users for reorganization of content, handling bulk metadata and copy-and-move functions. It also supports the movement of SharePoint legacy code to SharePoint 2013 and provides Office 365 support for hybrid implementations.

H3 Solutions Mobile Entrée
H3 Solutions Inc. recently launched its Mobile Entrée for Office 365 Preview. It offers mobile collaboration, providing features not available through the default SharePoint interface such as discussion boards and improved calendar views. In addition, it optimizes document editing, task management and provides enhanced search. It also provides customization such as modifying the way content is presented and organized. A new custom mobile app builder is available as Visual Studio extensions to deploy mobile apps as SharePoint apps.

AvePoint DocAve Online
AvePoint Inc. has updated its Microsoft Azure-hosted DocAve Online tool for managing Office 365. The new service pack 3 release now offers policy enforcement by managing all sites to ensure they're in compliance with an organization's governance guidelines, granular content protection to ensure users can recover SharePoint Online, Exchange Online or OneDrive Pro instance. The new release also generates configuration reports that can inform managers who created, modified, or deleted content and view security and settings across SharePoint Online tenants.

HiSoftware Site Sheriff
While HiSoftware Inc. security and compliance software has supported SharePoint for two years, the company is now offering a new tool for simpler permissions management. The new HiSoftware Site Sheriff lets admins control access to SharePoint content by providing permission data rules via dynamic metadata rather than static permissions or scanning documents, as is the case with Security Sheriff. It will initially require SharePoint 2010 or 2013 including SharePoint Foundation Server, though CTO Chris McNulty says support for Office 365 SharePoint Online is in the pipeline.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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