Bridging the Gap Between SharePoint On-Premises and Microsoft 365 for Secured Streamlined Business Processes
With a portfolio of more than 4,000 products covering the fields of genomics, protein analysis, cellular analysis, drug discovery, and genetic identity, our client, who we will refer to as Tyrell Corp., is a global leader in providing innovative solutions and technical support to life scientists. Tyrell Corp. stores and keeps track of all internal processes and proprietary research information in SharePoint On-Premises. Tasked with providing a unified experience that combines the power of the cloud with keeping critical data inside the VPN, Cloudwell implemented the following key components to respond to complex business-critical requirements:
- Microsoft Flow + On-Premise Data Gateway
- Azure Function Apps
- Custom Microsoft Flow connectors
- Power Apps
- DevOps On-Premise Agent Pools
- SPFx web parts with seamless Graph API connectivity
Prior to this engagement, Tyrell Corp. was using SharePoint 2010 with pockets of MOSS 2007 for a large-scale Intranet application. As a result, they were very hesitant to upgrade SharePoint due to the heavy level of customizations in their environments. Some of these customizations included SharePoint Designer workflows and InfoPath forms, tightly integrated into their day-to-day business critical processes. Many of these InfoPath forms were heavily customized with compiled code dependencies connecting to various internal web services. Over time, these dependencies began to fail.
The MOSS 2007 instance was being used to support critical processes related to sensitive global shipment logistics. These were dependent on legacy features, which introduced significant complexity to scaling and upgrading to supported versions of Microsoft applications. After working with Cloudwell to fully understand the capabilities that exist in Microsoft 365 and Azure, Tyrell Corp. was able to begin leveraging features they didn’t even know existed within their current Microsoft 365 subscription.
By taking a granular approach, we were able to migrate sites and features to SharePoint 2016 with zero downtime. Once the Intranet was up to date with SharePoint Server 2016, we took advantage of SharePoint Framework (SPFx) for web part development and began bridging their SharePoint infrastructure to the cloud using a hybrid model.
This approach allowed us to leverage the latest tools to build a modern, responsive, and performant web-based form solution. Although Power Apps was first considered (and used for numerous other solutions), concerns regarding proprietary and business-critical data led us to design a strictly on-premises solution.
Instead, we elected to use SharePoint Framework and Microsoft Fluent UI to build a custom form designer as a single SharePoint Web Part application. The key factor in the success of this solution is the adaptability of the Web Part, which enables users to create their own forms. This allows for designing the form layout, adding controls, and incorporating complex business logic for pre-populating data, input validation, and dynamic rendering of form fields.
In the example above, we have configured the SPFx Form Web Part to replace an existing InfoPath-based form. The form is an internal product knowledge base that facilitates search and storage of key technical information about Tyrell Corp’s. expansive product catalog. The form supports several key features:
- Check In/Check Out functionality to restrict editing
- Support for SharePoint fields such as People Pickers, Rich Text Editors, Managed Metadata, Comment History, and File Attachments
- Complex controls such as Repeating Tables and Repeating Sections
The form Web Part works with SharePoint Online or on-premise SharePoint 2016/2019 installations as well. The integration delivers a seamless user experience for accessing SharePoint list data through default list views. When viewing a list item, the form opens a panel in place of the default list form.
Performance enhancements achieved by dynamic loading of data and in-page routing result in thoroughly improved performance. Because of this new approach, a record that previously took up to five minutes to access now loads in one second or less.
By enabling Azure and Microsoft 365 to streamline business-critical processes, Tyrell Corp. is built to scale. Able to harness the power of Azure, SharePoint Framework, and Fluent UI, Tyrell Corp. can now keep their business-critical research assets on-premise and phase out additional custom InfoPath forms. We now spend time developing features to improve efficiency and profitability.