Hub site hierarchy


Because I heard that subsites might be deprecated soon, because MS recommends flat hierarchies with Hub sites, I was thinking to renew our SPO site hierarchy.

That hierarchy is based on subsites and looks like this:


Customer 1 (Top Level)

  • Location 1 of Customer 1 (Subsite Level 1)
  • - Product 1 in Location 1 of Customer 1 (Subsite Level 2)
  • - Product 2 in Location 1 of Customer 1
  • Location 2 of Customer 1
  • - Product 1 in Location etc..
  • Location 3 of Customer 1

Customer 2

  • Location 1 of Customer 2
  • Location 2 of Customer 2
  • Location 3 of Customer 2

Customer n... 


So we have an SPO site for each customer, site of customer and product of customer. Those hierarchies can be navigated easily via links to site contents.


Unfortunately our approach seems now bad, because MS does not recommend subsites anymore. So what can we do? 
With Hubsites I can only build a two-layer hierarchy. What I am showing above is not possible. Are there any recommendations?

Currently we are having already +2000 subsites, so those would have to be converted to +2000 site collections each?


9 Replies

If you want all of them to have all modern capabilites, then you have to ”move them”.


One way is to “modernize” your Customer-level and connect them to a “sales hub”. Then everything is kind off connected. But you won’t have the modern capabilities in the subsites as Teams/Groups and so on.


How many levels do you have? At Ignite Microsoft disclosed "Hubs association" so you could have up to three the way, with modern pages and a good navigation I believe you should perfectly to model your scenario

@Nicklas Lundqvist With modern capabilities you mean the O365 group things, right? So a MS Team, Group Calendar and so on? 
Well, those I do not need really. We use that in other scenarios. But I am just concerned that in some years it will not be possible anymore to create subsites... could this happen?

@Juan Carlos González Martín I have three levels: Customer => Plant of customer => product of customer. So this will be possible in the spring of next year? With hubs?

@David_Elsner- I may be missing or overlooking something, but it seems like a hub for each customer, and then any number of sites related to that customer can be connected to that hub.  In place of subsites, they would all be Site Collections connected to the Customer Hub.  You can leverage Hub navigation for the connected Site Collections and search would be scoped to just the that hub and the connected sites.  Are you inheriting anything with existing subsite topology or is it just for a logical grouping?

@Duane Alleman No, I am not inheriting anything. But for navigation its nice. For example if somebody saves a file for a product of a customer he can go in Office to save => sharepoitn site => choose plant => choose product.
Also people can navigate from products, to customer site, to customer level via "Site contents" and another link in Quicklaunch. 
Will three layers hierarchy also be possible soon? As I understood a hub is only able to do a two-level hierarchy, because sites that are part of a hub cannot become parents of other sites. 

Exactly those. And for your other question, not being able to create subsites in the future. Since Microsoft is moving to node based “thinking” there is a chance/risk that subsites will not be possible in the future. 

I think that’s why they are aiming on delivering the possibility to nest hub sites. I also think there’s a roadmap entry about that.

My “gut feeling” is that you should try to stay clear of subsites as a “navigation tool”. But then I don’t have all the insights in the roadmap of sharepoint sites either :)

Also, there is no tool (natively) to move a subsite to its own collection in a good way at least meaning if you use them you might end up in a rather tedious manual work later on.


@Nicklas Lundqvist Okay, thanks for the explanation. I will see that we will go await from the subsite approach then. But the access to subsites will probably stay, so I do not have to migrate my thousands of subsites to flat hierarchies?

Also: This would generate thousands of modern pages - like 20.000 site collections. That scales well in O365 now?

@David_Elsner Sorry for not getting back sooner.


In you case I would reach out to your Microsoft contact to discuss the details of your tenant. Either way it sounds like you have a lot of data and the impact might be big.


As far as scaling, I haven’t had that much of experience of 20k+ sites in a tenant and don’t feel confident to advise you either way other than above.


If scaling isn’t an issue, then a node based approach would give you a more “agile approach” of connecting different things over time. But my best advise is to reach out to Microsoft discussing your specific situation and needs.