SharePoint on the Microsoft Office 365 Platform
SharePoint can now be accessed in the cloud using Microsoft’s latest business offering, Office 365. Office 365 offers access to a cloud-based suite of Microsoft applications that only require a browser and an Internet connection to access. The full suite includes:
- SharePoint Online
- Office Web Apps (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel)
- Exchange Online
- Lync Online
- Forefront Online
Office 365 applications are hosted at Microsoft data centers, which tout a 99.9% uptime guarantee and bypass the need for an organization to invest in establishing and maintaining an IT infrastructure. One of the added benefits to using Office 365 is the ability to work on Microsoft Office documents using web applications which do not require software to be downloaded onto your computer.
Office 365 SharePoint has most of the same great features that you will find with the on premise version, and to the typical user you would not be able to see the difference. Both provide the ability to customize the look and feel, and allow for the design of sites and features around your business needs (see graphic below). There are even some features that Office 365 has that are not available in SharePoint Foundation 2010 (on-premise), most notably a web content management system for simple public facinig web sites.
There is however one important shortcoming to the feature set available with Office 365, which will give many midsize companies pause. Office 365 is unable to integrate with external systems (e.g. ERP, CRM, etc.). This means that for those of you who have fallen in love with the concept of creating a SharePoint dashboard to quickly view your Accounting, Sales, or CRM data, Office 365 is not for you.
With that said, Microsoft Office 365 is ideal for organizations that do not have the IT infrastructure to host an on premise version of SharePoint. You also can’t beat the price at only $6 per user per month. Although it is hosted in the cloud, it still has many benefits that you will not get by using tools like Google Docs/Site as noted in this blog post by Rick Rietz.
To learn more about getting started with Office 365 and/or SharePoint, please contact me at Anjali.email@example.com.
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