Before going over the many advantages of SharePoint Office 365, let’s go over what SharePoint actually is. SharePoint is not easy to describe in one sentence because it’s not limited to just one program or piece of software. Rather, it is a multitude of programs bundled together to make one large platform. Need an internal company website? SharePoint Office 365 does that. How about an external website? SharePoint Office 365 offers a solution for that as well. In addition, SharePoint Office 365 allows users to collaborate in real time on documents from anywhere on any device.
Cloud vs. On-Premise
There are many iterations of SharePoint Office 365, but the one we’ll discuss for now is the latest version, SharePoint 2016. It is important to differentiate SharePoint, the on-premise version, with SharePoint Office 365, the hybrid and cloud-based solution. For those companies with large IT staffs, the on-premise SharePoint version requires a multitude of servers to be maintained on a regular basis. So, to avoid confusion, whenever I refer to SharePoint in this article, I’m referring to the Office 365 cloud-based version.
With this latest version of SharePoint, users have a hybrid platform and are able to switch back and forth between cloud and on premise services. This is a sizable upgrade in comparison to the previous versions. Some reasons to consider a hybrid solution are:
- This solution keeps the most sensitive information on company servers instead of the cloud for compliance reasons
- It creates a gradual shift to the cloud while still being able to maintain in-house servers to avoid interrupting workflows
Reasons to Consider SharePoint Office 365
There are many reasons for considering SharePoint. Likely pain points include:
- Too much time wasted on locating documents on unorganized file servers
- Excessive use of e-mail to share or receive documents and other files
- File redundancy
- Information spread out across different departments
- Remote employees having to access internal company servers for information
Tired of those long e-mail chains going back and forth with colleagues when sharing and receiving documents? SharePoint offers a way for users to collaborate with each other on documents in real time. SharePoint consists of several containers to store files. The largest is known as the site, followed by the document library, which in turn holds the actual files and folders. Document libraries are kept in sync with an engine known as OneDrive for Business.
OneDrive for Business
OneDrive and OneDrive for Business are actually two different services. OneDrive for Business started under another name, SkyDrive Pro. For legal reasons SkyDrive Pro became OneDrive for Business. OneDrive is used to share documents and files with a very limited 7GB of storage included. With OneDrive, files can be accessed from any location by logging in to an Office 365 account, and its sole purpose is for personal use.
However, OneDrive for Business synchronizes files for a user offline and allows documents or files to be accessed from any device and from anywhere. For employees who work remotely, this offers a huge advantage over having to rely on VPNs to log on to company servers in order to access files or documents. Having to rely on VPNs to access company storage can cause some serious bottleneck issues with performance. Also, not all VPNs are created equal, and many are lagging behind in security features. On its own, OneDrive for Business can be valuable as a collaboration and synchronization tool since this is the driving force behind SharePoint’s ability to maintain sites and document libraries.
A Versatile Tool
Upgrades to SharePoint 2016 include more refined search capabilities and the ability to search quickly and access information between the cloud and server platforms. There are now 51 information types built in to SharePoint that allow for quick, one step searches across an entire site or group of sites.
Other notable features of SharePoint
- Central Administration--A good example of this is that administrators can set policies to determine how long documents are to remain in a user’s OneDrive for Business site.
- Improved Video capabilities--A user can hover over images or videos, and get a preview.
- File Names--Some special characters such as &, ~, and curly brackets are now allowed when naming files. Also, file names can now contain more than 128 characters.
- Improved Security--SharePoint 2016 uses a high level data encryption standard known as TLS 1.2.
- Improved Mobile Experience--Past versions of SharePoint lacked responsive web design. This latest version offers a feature called Responsive User Interface Package. This allows SharePoint content to be adjusted to any screen size. SharePoint acts as a web server that delivers documents to many types of devices allowing users to work from anywhere. There is also a dedicated app that was not available in previous versions.
- Built in Office 365 apps--No need to use the Excel, Word, or PowerPoint applications on a user’s device when it is already built into SharePoint.
- Yammer--A social media app native to SharePoint Office 365 used to connect employees.
Sure, there are other collaboration alternatives out there such as DropBox or Google Drive and they offer advantages along with inconveniences. For example, Google Drive inconveniences the user by only allowing Google’s proprietary file formats. With all the features mentioned above, why not go with an all-in-one solution like SharePoint?
Have other questions about SharePoint capabilities? Contact us today or comment below. Please share with others who may be searching for better collaboration tools.
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