Many partners ask if it is possible to change SharePoint Online URLs to reflect a friendlier name which would be easier to memorize. Of course there are a lot of other scenarios where a change of the SharePoint Online URLs would be necessary, like company acquisitions or mergers. In a SharePoint Server environment this would be possible, even if also there this is not really easy and there are a lot of things to take into considerations when doing this.
Unfortunately it is not possible to change SharePoint Online URLs. There are a lot of technical reasons in the background and I would like to briefly explain them. First of all, we have to take into considerations that in a cloud environment we have a multi-tenant setup. Multi-tenancy means basically that resources are physically shared between customers, but separated on a logical level.
When you create an Office 365 tenant, instances and names for all the services and workloads are reserved. Let’s say that you choose a tenant name like mycoompany.onmicrosoft.com.
When you do this, the name mycompany.sharepoint.com is reserved and an instance for this name is created in the site host, my site host and so on. This means that you would automatically have following site collections added to your SharePoint Online administration center:
Now, in a multi tenant environment names have to be unique, which means that there shouldn’t be any other instance with the same name as yours. And if customers would be able to change the URL names, the cloud provider would have no control on naming policies in their multi-tenancy.
So that is why we can’t change SharePoint Online URLs. However, if we are creative, there are several options if this is a really critical business need.
A first option would be to create a new tenant, reflecting the correct name and then migrate SharePoint Online data. To do this, we would need to use some 3rd party services, since Microsoft doesn’t offer any built in Sharepoint migration tool. However, this is an option that many customer use after a merger.
A second very creative and at the same time easy option would be to use HTTP redirects at the domain hosting provider. For example we could create a sub domain named sharepoint.company.com and redirect traffic to mycompany.sharepoint.com. We could do the same with the my site, with team sites or any other site collection we might create. This way, end users can memorize very friendly URLs and they are redirected where the data really resides.
So although it is not possible to change SharePoint Online URLs, there are several options to work around this limitation. If you have other ideas on this, please feel free to share them.