Deploying SharePoint in the Cloud is a smart move for any IT department looking to simplify its in-house infrastructure and reduce costs. But to truly leverage SharePoint in the Cloud, you first need to clearly identify the needs of your users. This will make it easier for you to select the right version of SharePoint, as well as the hosting model and management level needed to run your sites. In the upcoming weeks, we will help you zero-in on these decisions with this three-part blog series.
Now that more and more organization are taking the leap to the Cloud to power up SharePoint and other productivity applications, the reasons have become clearer as to why IT departments are choosing this option: improved agility and performance, rapid deployment, instant scalability, lower cost, better availability and more. In fact, early cloud adopters, mostly small organizations under 100 employees, have never looked back.
It appears that larger organizations are now also responding to this value proposition. Unfortunately, far too often have we seen large organizations rightly make the move for all the same benefits listed above, but they either failed to plan properly or didn’t consider future requirements, which most project management processes fail to address. SharePoint has virtually endless collaboration features; understanding the different options of a cloud deployment will ensure you get the features that will best serve your current and future needs.
The first step in a proper SharePoint deployment is identifying the right version that fits your requirements. SharePoint is offered in three different editions: Foundation, Standard and Enterprise. Choosing the proper version is also crucial for ensuring widespread adoption within the organization.
Here are 7 things to consider when determining which SharePoint edition will truly cater to the needs of your users.
How will SharePoint be used in your organization?
1. Document management: From document versioning, co-authoring or asset library for rich content, assessing your content management requirements goes a long way in selecting your SharePoint version. Also consider the integration of Office Web Apps and the external sharing requisite.
2. Social collaboration: Do you want SharePoint to integrate Yammer? Do you need company and sites feed? Do you want SharePoint to act as an organization social network, with newsfeed, badges, ratings and more? The options are endless here.
3. Web content management: SharePoint can act as a content management system. Its workflows and templates will allow users to easily publish content in a uniform way. Do you need your content to be cross-published or do you only have one site? Do you have multiple domains?
4. Business intelligence/Web analytics: What are your needs in terms of SharePoint usage reports? Whether it’s traffic, search or inventory reports, you can gain meaningful insights into your organization’s use of SharePoint. You can also connect SharePoint with Excel’s Workbook for BI use and track KPIs.
5. Workflows: What workflows do you want to use—SharePoint’s out-of-the-box workflows or do you want to create your own? Workflows are a must-have to encourage the implementation of processes.
6. Search: Do you need a basic or advanced search engine? Do you need to have query rules in place or do you want to give users query suggestions? Do you need to search rich content like videos or conversations?
7. Development: What is your company’s app usage? Do you need to deploy auto-hosted apps? Cloud-hosted? Do you need to integrate with InfoPath Forms Services? Social and ECM APIs?
If you only require basic capabilities in all of the above areas, your organization should opt for SharePoint Foundation 2013. If you need intermediate capabilities in one or more of the above areas, you should go with SharePoint Standard Server 2013. Finally, if you need advanced features in one or more categories, your organization will need to use SharePoint Enterprise Server 2013.
Plan for tomorrow, not just today
When evaluating your needs, think about the growth and evolution of your enterprise, and whether your requirements will change in the near future. Planning shouldn’t only focus on disk space or bandwidth; you also have to forecast the development of your company’s collaborative environment.
Fortunately, Microsoft has made moving from SharePoint’s Standard to Enterprise edition a lot easier with its latest version. It’s now easy to have Enterprise features enabled for some users and Standard features for others, all in the same SharePoint environment. However, this type of site customization is not as seamless with SharePoint Foundation; you would need to engage in a painful migration process.
In part 2 of this series, we’ll explore the three different hosting models for deploying SharePoint in the Cloud (multi-tenant, semi-private and private), and how to pick the right one for your organization.
Until then, if you have any questions or need help identifying the right solution, you can call us at 1-888-567-6610 or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read part 2 of this series, click here.