SharePoint & Office 365: When 2+2 Equals Eight

sharepoint website

Back when client/server computing was the dominant model for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs), the file server was the means of managing a company’s documents, spreadsheets, and other unstructured data.

The file server was an improvement over the old days of local disks, but in some ways, it was a mess. Version control was a constant issue, with people checking out files and making rogue changes. Security and permissions had to be layered over the whole scheme. Collaboration tools weren’t part of the equation.

These shortcomings along with the advent of Web-based computing drove the popularity of SharePoint Server, Microsoft’s platform for creating Web sites that facilitate content management, team collaboration, and portal-style views of information. SharePoint can manage and organize files, but by also handling functions such as versioning, permissions and digital rights management, it provides true content management.

Traditionally, companies deployed SharePoint Server on premise, which took some information technology (IT) know-how and plenty of ongoing IT maintenance, but it offered a breakthrough in the way that companies could manage their content.

Now with cloud computing, we have SharePoint Online, a cloud service hosted by Microsoft which can be obtained standalone but also comes with business class plans of Office 365, Microsoft cloud solution for office productivity software.

So what happens when you pair Office 365 with SharePoint Online? Do you simply get a Web-based content management solution that sits behind your cloud Office solution? Gladly, it’s more than that. The solutions are more than the sum of their parts.

The two solutions are tightly integrated and work together in powerful ways that many people at SMB organizations might not realize, especially if you’re used to the limitations of older means of trying to access and manage content. Here’s some top advantages of using SharePoint Online:

•    With SharePoint Online, you have granular, built-in versioning—a digital record of which changes were made to files, by whom, and when. This is a crucial feature for collaborating around Office files.
•    What SharePoint Online and Office 365, multiple users can perform simultaneous, version controlled editing of documents. That means you and a couple of colleagues can collaborate on an Excel file, make changes as you work from different locations, and still have one consistent master file with a record of the changes.
•    You can embed Office documents on SharePoint Online team sites, and “invite” colleagues to review them.
•    SharePoint Online has security built in from the start. It also can leverage Active Directory information so that user log-ins and authorizations remain consistent and more secure.
•    Because SharePoint Online and Office 365 are cloud based, deployment is automatic. There are no Web servers or SQL database servers to deploy and run in-house.
•    With SharePoint Online, users can connect to content and collaborative projects, anytime, anywhere.
•    SharePoint uses lists and libraries to organize content in logical, team/project oriented ways. Navigation hub features such as Newsfeed, Sites, and OneDrive point individuals to the content and processes to focus on.
•    SharePoint delivers content-centric search, allowing users to find information in a more logical manner. This also helps administrators focus on content, rather than servers.
SharePoint has allowed companies, even modestly sized ones, to become content-centric organizations that are able to find, update and embed documents with collaborative team processes in a secure, version-controlled way. Now with SharePoint Online being part of Office 365 plans, deploying a SharePoint solution is easier than ever.

There are some differences in the SharePoint capabilities you have access to depending on the Office 365 plan you choose, a choice that iCorps can guide you through. We also can help you build out your SharePoint Online structure and collaborative processes, and get Office 365 and SharePoint Online working together in the optimal way for your company. The combination of the two can be powerful, and with the cloud, the “IT” burden is lifted.

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