Companies Favoring SharePoint Server Over Office 365 Use

An industry study found that that most organizations used SharePoint Server on premises in 2015, rather than the SharePoint Online service, which is part of Microsoft's Office 365 cloud offerings.

The study was conducted by Rencore, a maker of SharePoint code analysis software for developers. Rencore polled more than 1,000 SharePoint professionals for the study. The respondents from around the globe were architects, developers, IT pros or project managers working with SharePoint.

Server Use Predominates
Most respondents (49 percent) used SharePoint Server on premises. Just 24 percent indicated they used SharePoint Online. There were 25 percent that used "hybrid" configurations, or a mixture of SharePoint Server and Microsoft's cloud services.

The organizations that deployed SharePoint Server on premises had a mixture of old and new products. SharePoint Server 2013 use led the pack at 72 percent, followed by SharePoint Server 2010 (54 percent), SharePoint Server 2007 (19 percent), SharePoint Server 2003 (4 percent) and SharePoint Server 2001 (1 percent).

However, 62 percent of the respondents indicated the use of Office 365 services or SharePoint Online, too.

Rencore interpreted these findings to mean that Microsoft's marketing message of "mobile first, cloud first" just wasn't happening quite yet for SharePoint users. It seemed also that many were still committed to using older SharePoint Server products.

The respondents also were asked about SharePoint governance. Most (40 percent) indicated that manual processes were being used for governance. There were 25 percent each saying that IT audit processes and defined frameworks were used. Based on those responses, Rencore's study described SharePoint governance as being low-priority issue for its survey participants.

Software Tools Use
The study examined the use of third-party software tools for SharePoint migrations and upgrades. Three tools topped the survey results. They included Metalogix (31 percent), AvePoint (30 percent) and ShareGate (29 percent). However, 28 percent said they weren't using any software tool for SharePoint migrations and upgrades.

Most appalling for the researchers were the SharePoint coding issues reflected in the study, particularly the use of code analysis tools (Rencore sells its own solution along those lines). Most (52 percent) respondents used Rencore's SharePoint Code Analysis Framework (SPCAF) tool, followed by SPDisposeCheck (49 percent). The study cited Microsoft MVP Tobias Zimmergren as saying that the use of SPDisposeCheck was "a big problem," adding that "it does not report any errors at all with SP2013." He said Microsoft had removed it as a download option. "The only tool currently available is the SPCAF tool, which is doing a superb job at finding issues, including any memory leaks," he added. Zimmergren, along with being a SharePoint MVP, is part of the Rencore team.

Customization of SharePoint was a popular trend among the respondents, with 71 percent customizing WebParts and 71 percent customizing SharePoint farm solutions. SharePoint Designer customizations were the practice of 66 percent, with 60 percent customizing the SharePoint add-in model. Paradoxically, respondents indicated they had more problems from out-of-the-box SharePoint implementations than from customizations. Zimmergren flatly commented that "customisations tend to cause the most problems I have encountered, especially if done right at the start of a project." Other SharePoint MVPs recently have echoed that point of view.

The top developer tools for SharePoint included JQuery (91 percent), JQuery and SPServices (51 percent), Angular.js (43) and Knockout.js (27 percent), among others.

The full study includes an interview with Jeremy Thake, a Microsoft senior product marketing manager for Office 365. He tacitly acknowledged the resistance of SharePoint Server customers in moving to Microsoft's cloud solutions. Microsoft isn't "depreciating farm solutions" for SharePoint, he said. "However, as more workflows move to Office 365, the Add-in model will be the only option."

Rencore's study, "The State of SharePoint and Office 365 Development," can be downloaded at this page (sign-up required). It was the company's first survey of SharePoint developer trends.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.


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