Cloud technologies are becoming more familiar to business users thanks to the widespread use of remote applications such as Gmail and Google Docs. Less familiar to some users is the SharePoint system, first released by Microsoft in 2001 to provide, as the name suggests, shared access to centrally located data that resides on a central server. SharePoint can be installed as a separate service or can be implemented as part of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Standard Suite or as part of the new Office 365 platform.
Common Ways to Use SharePoint
Creating an intranet portal is one of the fundamental uses of SharePoint. Unlike the internet, which provides worldwide access to data, an intranet is a highly controlled collection of computers, typically in a single corporate network. Only corporate users on specific workstations can access an intranet, and even then they must supply correct credentials. An intranet portal allows enterprises to centralize data and applications, which leads to gains in productivity and the elimination of unneeded redundancies.
SharePoint allows users to catalog and track both electronic documents and images of traditional paper documents. Many users can edit electronic documents without the divergent versions being stored on several different workstations or even in separate cities. By providing a central storage location for documents, SharePoint increases employee time on tasks, since no longer do workers have to email a manager for a document and then wait until an attachment arrives. Instead, access to the document can be granted to all members of a team from the start, greatly simplifying the workflow of the process.