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Sharepoint 2013: On Cloud or On-Premises?

Ritika Tiwari
By Ritika Tiwari
— Last Updated: 2018-02-18T18:52:31+00:00

Now that Microsoft has introduced Sharepoint Online with Sharepoint 2013, is it really time for enterprises to pack up their bags and move to the cloud?

According to Jim Gartner, a research director, Sharepoint cloud isn’t exactly ground breaking. Microsoft is just trying to lure  clients to move from on-premises versions to the cloud. And in case you are worried Microsoft will close its door on the on-premises version, then you should know, there is still a lot of time before Sharepoint shifts completely to the cloud.

Going by Windows XP’s example, we think there will still be a lot of time to buyout and review your options before giving in to Sharepoint Online.

Is Sharepoint on Cloud The Answer to Everything?

Sharepoint on cloud can definitely provide cost-effective and simple content management capabilities and enterprise collaboration. And for some organizations, it can really be the answer to several problems like lack of technical expertise and rise of data center infrastructure costs.

That is all good for an organization with simpler enterprise collaborations and less employees, because for a company with complex requirements, Sharepoint Cloud may not be the right fit. Though Microsoft is continuously adding more features to the cloud version Sharepoint Online, there are still many major on-premises features that are missing from the cloud version.

One major issue is that, you cannot customize Sharepoint Online like its on-premises counterpart.

Now, this might not be a big issue for a small company with simple and straightforward requirements and a trifling number of IT staff, but the lack of customization can be a major issue for big organizations. Cloud security is also a big issue for organizations struggling with critical and sensitive data.

Before going forward, let’s discuss the different deployments methods of Sharepoint 2013

  • Sharepoint on- premises – It is installed on the company’s data center, either on a virtualized infrastructure or a physical one

  • Sharepoint Online- This service is available through Office 365 cloud environment

  • Sharepoint on Infrastructure as a Service– Sharepoint is installed on a third party’s data center, which is virtualized. It could use Amazon Web Services or Azure cloud

  • Hybrid Sharepoint– This is a combination of cloud and on-premises deployment

Features That Can Swing Your Decision

We have put together six common features that all business may need from Sharepoint and which can help you decide if you should go with Sharepoint Online or stay with on-premises version of the software:

1.    Complexity

Sharepoint On-premises does not just have full functionality provided by Microsoft but it is also easier to integrate. There is a great business intelligence feature available called PerformancePoint. And it is easier to accommodate single sign-on in this.

Whereas, Sharepoint Online has built in collaborations with Microsoft Lync, Office Web Apps and OneDrive, which on-premises version does not provide. This is the only complex feature that Sharepoint online has. It does not have the full functionality yet and it is definitely not easier to integrate.

Sharepoint Online does not have a single sign on option, probably because of the extra security cloud requires.

2.    Costs

For Sharepoint on-premesis, cost can definitely be predicted and budgeted for capital expenditure. But the costs for data centers can increase over time. Reduced cost is one of the biggest USPs of Sharepoint Online.

With this, the cost of data centers can decrease to a great amount and budgetary support is available for operational expenditure. But then again, these costs are all dependent on Microsoft’s subscription plans.

3.    Audibility

Sharepoint on-premises gives you control to support auditing needs and you also have full control over the geographic location of content. With Sharepoint Online, there is very little control when it comes to handling audit needs and where the content is located geographically.

4.    Predictability

All the function sets and features are known and remain the same on Sharepoint on-premises until the next software update is announced and made available. Whereas, function set and features can be decreased or completely removed with a relatively short notice.

But then again, there can also be enhancements before the timelines mentioned by Microsoft.

5.    Speed to Market

Speed of deployment, testing of functions and production capabilities are all dependent on the efficiency of an organization’s IT functionality. With Shareoint on cloud, everything is fast and rapid, from deployment to production.

What Should You Choose?

There is no denying that Sharepoint Online can help ease management headaches and reduce costs, but not without a few trade-offs in functionality. For companies that are not using the on-premises version, Sharepoint Online can definitely prove to be cost effective. But for companies that are already on-premises, Sharepoint cloud may prove to be too restrictive.

In fact, for companies that shifted from on-premises to cloud, Sharepoint has been nothing less than a disappointment and Microsoft is working hard to gain their trust. Undoubtedly, Sharepoint Online’s features have increased and improved since its launch, but the question is – will it be enough?

According to Forrester Research report, 62 percent of the IT decision makers are still going to deploy Sharepoint on-premises, instead of the cloud version. If the statistics apply to all the enterprises, then chances are Microsoft is taking a big risk by marketing Sharepoint Online over their on-premises version.

Maybe IT decision makers are just too comfortable with Sharepoint on-premises and they don’t want to change. And maybe, Microsoft is just pushing it. But is there a common ground for both on-premises and cloud version to co-exist?

Final Verdict

Microsoft is shifting more and more towards the cloud with the revived OneDrive and Sharepoint. All this is for one simple reason – the cloud is the future. And Microsoft is doing everything to embrace the future and not become the next Nokia.

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Obviously, both on-premises and cloud versions of Sharepoint 2013 have their own problems and Microsoft is trying to solve them. But with so many people inclining towards on-premises, there is no doubt Microsoft will keep both versions up and running, at least for a few years.

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