Launched by Microsoft in 2001 as a server management tool, SharePoint has morphed into perhaps the world’s most popular workplace collaboration platform. It is used by some 200 million individuals across 300,000 customer organizations, including 85 percent of the Fortune 500.
It was originally meant to simplify network provisioning, but organizations soon discovered it could be used to create intranet portals. The highly configurable platform has continually evolved over the years, and in the process has fundamentally changed the way organizations create, manage and share content.
The evolution continues as Microsoft gradually shifts much of SharePoint’s functionality into the cloud and away from on-premises deployments. Microsoft has made SharePoint one of the foundational elements of Office 365, its cloud platform for the delivery of its familiar productivity software. The rate of cloud-based SharePoint deployments ballooned by an impressive 167 percent last year, according to a survey from SharePoint tools suppliers Sharegate, Hyperfish and Nintex.
Nevertheless, many organizations remain stubbornly loyal to older, on-premises versions. Even those using Office 365 often run an on-premises version in parallel. Among those surveyed, 66 percent still use SharePoint 2013 and 40 percent still use SharePoint 2010. Concerns about security, cost constraints, time constraints and migration difficulties were the most-cited reasons for the resisting migration.
However, SharePoint Online offers some undeniable benefits. Collaboration can be greatly improved by allowing document access from anywhere and any device. Cloud-based document sharing can also help organizations reduce dependency on in-house file servers and offload the associated management complexity. The newest on-premises version, SharePoint 2016, does streamline the update processes and reduces downtime. However, it still requires more care and feeding than the online version, which is automatically updated by Microsoft.
Perhaps most significant is the fact that Microsoft has signaled its intention to move almost entirely to the cloud by including features in the online version that aren’t available on-premises. For instance, many of Microsoft’s latest collaboration features — including the Teams chat and collaboration app, the Delve data visualization and discovery tool, and the Groups email collaboration app — are only available with SharePoint Online. (They can be accessed with SharePoint 2016, but only if you are running it in hybrid mode and have at least one Office 365 tenant.)
SharePoint Online also allows easier customization and improved search functionality. In older versions, only administrators or developers could make significant changes to SharePoint pages or create custom forms. Now, everyday business users can access a variety of templates or create their own forms and workflows. Organization-wide search features make it easier to find and share content across the entire platform.
SharePoint Online not only makes collaboration easy, it makes it secure. The platform features multiple built-in encryption methods, protocols and algorithms to shield data in transit and at rest. Additionally, an anti-malware engine scans all files that are uploaded and saved to document libraries. There also features to control access based on location and to manage external sharing.
SharePoint continues to evolve to provide business users with the file-sharing and collaboration tools they need to be more efficient and productive. Although migrating traditional on-premises services to the cloud may seem challenging, it can be accomplished with minimal disruption with proper preparation and the assistance of proven technology partner.
AdaptivEdge has developed a proven methodology around the design and delivery of SharePoint solutions. Whether you’re evaluating a new implementation, planning a migration, or just need to jump start a stalled project, give us a call.Written and composed by one of our Senior Managing Partner, Steve Soper