For many IT professionals, building, supporting, and managing SharePoint infrastructure has become a full-time career, and as such, a dedicated role. However, if your SharePoint infrastructure is moving to a cloud-based solution, it may seem there is little room for growth in this niche, unless you plan on going to work for the cloud solution provider.
If we look at the role of a SharePoint Architect, while there are different flavors and variations, the role is generally to build and manage a SharePoint solution from the ground up. This covers such decisions as the number of servers, what the CPU, RAM, disks, and SQL configuration should look like, what the user and administration roles will be and how they will be allocated, etc., as well as the administration of the SharePoint application itself. In many organizations, however, as they move to the cloud much of this may no longer be the in-house SharePoint architect’s responsibility.
The migration to the cloud has a lot of SharePoint Architects concerned over their career futures. Understandably, they are trying to figure out where they fit in when their organization sheds traditional on-premises infrastructure in favor of using the cloud.
This is an excellent question that many are now (or will soon be) facing. Most who are already working as SharePoint Architects have considerable experience, not just with SharePoint, but with Windows Servers, Active Directory, and general network infrastructure and administration. As infrastructure changes, we see the role of the SharePoint Architect changing. The focus of a SharePoint Architect shifts from infrastructure design to more administration. And SharePoint administration has also evolved as it has moved to the cloud.
Notably, in SharePoint Online the Admin Center is different, with the greatest change being the lack of Content Databases, Service Applications, Reporting Services, and miscellaneous other system/database settings. Everything else with which we are familiar exists, though, and must now be managed at a site collection level. This management still requires the skills of a qualified SharePoint Administrator. Additionally, SharePoint Online has many feature and functionality differences than the on-premises version, and a skilled SharePoint expert is needed to guide their organizations in design decisions and dealing with the variations between the two environments. For SharePoint Architects, making the move to this role makes sense as their companies migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud.
We know this: Microsoft will continue to make significant investments in Azure, their cloud platform. For a SharePoint Architect – or Administrator - understanding the role of Azure is critical to enable them to continue bringing value to their organizations when they shift to SharePoint Online.
As SharePoint evolves, so do the responsibilities and required skill sets of the SharePoint Architect / Administrator. At Kiefer, we are constantly building our competencies in areas that allow us to keep pace with changes to the Microsoft stack, including Azure. Even with the rapid changes we’ve witnessed since the introduction of SharePoint Online, we recognize that the expertise and experience that SharePoint Architects provide are still essential. Now more than ever, it’s important to build up your skill sets and try to stay one step ahead of your users’ needs. If you progress with the technology you support, you can become an indispensable resource to your organization.
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