SharePoint on Cloud(Online with Office 365)


Hi Guys,

Before starting let me clear that, when part or all of your data center exists physically on your campus(es), then you have an on-premises (not “on premise”) solution. Maintaining a SharePoint farm on-premises is startlingly complex and expensive. SharePoint is a Windows Server-based, multi-tier ASP.NET Web application that uses SQL Server for its data tier and relies heavily upon Web standards and the .NET Framework.

When you add in other, related Microsoft servers such as Exchange and Lync, then between physical hardware, electricity, licensing, and support costs, you are facing a huge investment of time, money, and effort.

Microsoft gives us SharePoint Online and Office 365 as a cloud-based alternative to deploying and maintaining an on-premises farm. Specifically, the Office 365 product is a particular type of cloud computing known as software as a service, or SaaS.

SharePoint online is one of product included in MS online service solutions and is part of Office 365. Microsoft had released SharePoint 2013 and its online counterpart via the latest rev of Office 365, Now decision makers are forced to think whether to deploy it in-house or use the latest cloud-based iterations of the collaboration platform. SP Online can also be put as standalone product or part of one of the plans offers by Office 365.

  • End user or employee can easily access office documents and data online without operational overhead or infrastructure investment.
  • It provide everyone on the team with access to critical business information when and where members need it.
  • Share information with employees, partners and customers in a way so that priorities, security and reliability always maintained as it was there on other version of SP.

Features:

The new SharePoint Online, available with Office 365, includes a wide variety of improvements and new features.  But in comparison to  older Online versions it add more and more clouds it to it. Have a look on the picture below:

SP Online_1

Just have a glance on the Office 365 plans offered by Microsoft here or here

How to access:

After you decided the proper plan according to your organization, you can log on to the  http://portal.microsoftonline.com

SP Online_2

Now you can able to access the office 365 SharePoint Online.

Compatibility with other devices:

User now can access SharePoint Online site on an internet-connected mobile phone or tablet. By accessing the site on a mobile device, it provides the flexibility to access information on sites, collaborate with colleagues, access shared documents, view updated site content, and otherwise stay connected with your work.

The sign-in experience varies depending on the kind of authentication enabled for the sign-in domain. It supports following devices:

  • Andriod
  • Apple iOS(iPhone and iPad)
  • BlackBerry
  • Windows Phone

To access a site using the optimized mobile browser experience, a new feature named Mobile Browser Viewer must be activated on the site. If activated, this feature checks the device’s mobile browser to determine if it can handle HTML5. If the mobile browser supports HTML 5 the contemporary view is shown. Otherwise, the classic view is shown.

How Its different from SharePoint Server:

Below is the quick high level comparison between SP on-premise and SP Online. In terms of the Sites and Communities SP online is pretty close to Server except the internet sites support is not available. The content management does not have record center and e-discovery features in SP online.  In terms search FAST is also not included in Online. At the right side of the image there is business intelligence & composite applications, BCS is not supported. Also you don’t write code which runs at farm level.

SP Online

Office Web App:

One very significant feature in SharePoint online I want to delineate here is Office web app feature. Office Web Apps are <b>touch-friendly</b> web applications that let you create, edit and share your Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote files from any browser.You can <b>share</b> and <b>simultaneously</b> work on your documents with classmates, friends and co-workers.

If you open the Document library you can find new document option there and it allows user to create new word, excel, power point,  one note etc documents and many more options as shown below:

SP Online_3

A very good example of working office app in browser is here. Office app allows users to perform anything they can do without installing actual Office package.

Extensibility and Customization – App Model
SharePoint Online allows developers to use following type of customization:

  • Browser-based
  • SharePoint Designer 2013
  • Sandboxed Solutions
  • App Model

From developer point of view SharePoint online customization is quite easy as there are very easy ways to develop solutions. But on there hand it can be tedious in case of complex client requirement. There are few limitation which I am listing below:

  • No Farm level features are allowed.
  • No site definitions
  • Cannot modify OOB SP files, Web.configs, security policies

Microsoft recommendation for customizing sharepoint online is to use App Model. There are several reasons behind this recommendation. Using app model we never deploy code to server which ensures servers security and less changes to deploy unauthorized codes. Apps can word both with Online as well as on-premises versions. So in case clients prefer to use the hybrid architecture  it is easy to customize.

Using the apps we can deploy List, Worflows, Pages, Client Webparts, Content types and Site columns, Ribbon Custom Actions. NAPA is one of the app development tool provided by Microsoft to make developer’s life easy. I will explain how one can install and use NAPA tool to development.

Happy SharePointing 🙂