November 9, 2015

Getting governance right in SharePoint PaaS

Timo Wuoma

Head of Enterprise Integration Solutions, Product and Sales, Tieto

Thanks to private cloud solutions, large enterprises can deploy SharePoint off-premises without compromising on security. But can it solve their governance problems?

SharePoint is a versatile enough solution to be used in organisations of all sizes, but it's no secret that some of its heaviest users are large enterprises. Microsoft itself claimed in 2010 that just under four-fifths (78 per cent) of Fortune 500 companies are on the platform, contributing to a combined user base of more than 100 million.

Organisations of this size tend to have very specific requirements of SharePoint - usually more so than SMEs - and this may restrict their options if they're planning to deploy it as a cloud solution. Sometimes, the best option might not be to use SharePoint Online - Microsoft's own public cloud version of the platform - but rather a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering in which SharePoint Server is hosted in a private cloud environment.

One reason for this is security. Private cloud solutions give users a greater degree of control over where their data resides than the public cloud does, so organisations in regulated industries can use SharePoint PaaS to guarantee data sovereignty. Another reason is that large enterprises may need to integrate SharePoint with various backend systems, which makes SharePoint Server's rich feature set and customisation options very attractive.

At Tieto, we've been solving these problems for our customers for some time now with SharePoint PaaS - a private cloud SharePoint solution hosted in our own high security data centres in Finland and Sweden.

However, we've also learned that this doesn't satisfy all of their concerns when it comes to the Microsoft platform. When a large enterprise with strict security requirements is running a very complex SharePoint implementation, effective governance becomes a significant challenge. We're now aiming to solve this problem, too.

The governance challenge for large enterprises

Most SharePoint users should be aware of how difficult governance can be to get right. It's a very resource-intensive task in large enterprises, encompassing everything from custom development work to end user training, and a few mistakes can easily undermine security and plunge the platform into chaos.

Human error, for example, can lead to serious compliance issues if documents are misclassified or access to a site or library is accidentally granted to the wrong user. A failure to balance the roles of business and IT correctly can cause bottlenecks on both sides, making the organisation as a whole less efficient. And if the platform isn't regularly audited, policy infractions can slip under the radar.

When you consider that some large enterprise SharePoint implementations contain millions of documents and may be integrated with any number of backend systems, it's obvious that these companies need a way to reduce their governance burden.

Introducing governance automation to SharePoint PaaS

This is why Tieto has now partnered with AvePoint to introduce governance automation to our SharePoint PaaS offering. The new solution is tailored to the requirements of our private cloud customers in the Nordic region and combines a raft of self-service features with automation to make effective governance simple.

While it's not identical to the off-the-shelf version of AvePoint's DocAve Governance Automation, it includes much of the functionality that makes that solution so attractive. Users are able to provision, manage and modify sites and permissions via service requests that can be approved either manually or automatically according to policy; policy infractions are automatically corrected; and new sites and site collections automatically have the correct auditing, branding, backup, archiving, storage and permissions policies applied upon creation.

We'll be rolling out these features to our SharePoint PaaS customers from this quarter onwards. If you're interested in learning more, I'll be discussing the solution in more depth alongside John Peluso, AvePoint's senior vice president of product strategy, at the European SharePoint Conference on November 11th - or you can read about SharePoint PaaS here.

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