Need SharePoint, but Do Not Need a High Level of Flexibility? Microsoft Now Has You Covered.

By Michael Emrich – Associate, Marketing & Sales

Today, Microsoft is rolling out its latest service package, Office 365. In what is essentially Microsoft’s follow-up to its Business Productivity Online Services lineup, Microsoft is now offering, in the cloud, its lineup of desktop applications and server products in one virtual box. One of the more prominent offerings in this package is SharePoint 2010. With Office 365, businesses now have the opportunity to purchase an out-of-the-box version of SharePoint, ready to go – without having to shoulder the capital expenditures of hosting SharePoint themselves.

This is great news for lower-level SharePoint users – the ones who just need a basic version of it for their needs. Not much customization or personalization, just the basic meat and potatoes of SharePoint. Office 365’s SharePoint-powered web apps allow you to collaborate on the creation of documents in real-time over the Internet, access SharePoint on your mobile device, and ensures a consistent format that guarantees documents will be readable on any computer and any edition of Microsoft Office. Those abilities will improve both the effectiveness and efficiency of content creation.

However, for the high-end SharePoint users who need SharePoint tailored to them like a fine Italian suit, Office 365’s offering is just too constricted to meet their highly-dynamic and fluid needs. That’s where SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server add significant value and flexibility, whether you choose to host it yourself or contract with a SharePoint hosting services provider. While self-hosting may seem attractive initially, the high capital expenditures associated with it make the use of third-party companies an extremely appealing option.

Ultimately, SharePoint hosting depends on the need of the business. Office 365 is very convenient if just a basic level SharePoint platform is needed and you don’t mind writing a monthly check to Microsoft. Self-hosting may be ideal if you’re set up for “build-it-yourself” — which is to say you’ve already invested in an IT infrastructure, training and staff, and have limited scalability requirements. In between, however, is SharePoint hosting outsourced to a third party, which preserves your capital dollars and keeps your infrastructure costs variable. It also allows you to customize to the hilt, scale rapidly, and sleep well knowing that your servers are in a secure data center with 24x7x365 oversight. Plus, you get access to significant resources, namely a talented staff of SharePoint hosting experts.

So, with self-hosting and Microsoft Office 365 available, you’ll find a good fit if your flexibility needs are at either of the extremes on the flexibility spectrum. However, for those who find themselves in between two extremes, hosted SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server are still the perfect match.

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