Undestanding SharePoint 2019

SharePoint is web-based collaboration and document management platform. Though highly flexible, it is primarily used to store documents, and communicate information across organisations.

With SharePoint, users can create an intranet (or internal internet system) which works like any other website. Sub-sites can be created for specific departments or teams. Through this centralised, secure space users can access, share, and edit documents.

Understanding SharePoint Server

SharePoint Server is available on-premises, while SharePoint Online is a cloud-based platform offering typically bundled with Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions. Although the two products use common codebases, they differ programmatically and functionally.

Essentially, SharePoint Server is a locally-hosted platform that the user organisation owns and operates themselves. With SharePoint Server, users are responsible for running and maintaining everything internally, including server architecture, active directory, and file storage.

While SharePoint Online is a cloud-based service, hosted by Microsoft, which users simply access “as a service” rather than having all the architecture (and relating hardware) existing on their own premises. With SharePoint online, all the “back end” parts of SharePoint are looked after at Microsoft’s end.

With SharePoint Online, users don’t have to think about things like servers, architecture, or resources, as this is all taken care of by the vendor. That means that users get the benefit of the vendor’s security features too, which usually tend to be more robust than what users could implement themselves in-house.

Services offered

Delivered as part of Office 365, SharePoint Online enables organisations to participate in a collaborative, contextual user experience, as part of a productivity services platform offering a broad range of user-centred content capabilities.

SharePoint Online can also be integrated with other Office products, including Exchange, Word, and Excel, more easily. The only thing users need to deal with to get access to SharePoint Online is licenses, which are charged per user, so businesses only pay for the number of users and levels of access necessary. Another benefit of using SharePoint Online is that it will always be up-to-date, while SharePoint Server users must manually download and install updates, which are often rolled out much later for on-premises instances.

The other side of the coin to automatic updates, though, is that SharePoint Online users have little control over when and how these automatic updates hit their systems, and may find that when a new update wreaks havoc with their customisations.

For some businesses, however, using a SaaS service like SharePoint Online means giving up some of the autonomy that an organisation would have if they owned and operated the software internally, as their data will be housed in one of Microsoft’s data centres, rather than on the users’ own services.

Which is Better?

There is no simple answer to this. For most small businesses who need limited features like document management, some customisations, and integration with Outlook and other programs, SharePoint Online is the perfect solution. For larger companies who rely on powerful custom applications and who’ve invested heavily in SharePoint servers and IT staff, moving to the Online solution isn’t in their best interest.

A software consulting firm like EvokeIT can help you navigate your organisation’s requirements and know which program will work better for you. Contact us today to find out more about SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online, and how the platform can work better for you.

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