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What is SharePoint Online? SharePoint 2013 Update

By  Jim Kane Jim Kane  on 2015-07-14 08:00:00  |  Featured in  Financial Services
Jim Kane
Posted By Jim Kane
in Financial Services
on 2015-07-14 08:00:00

So what is SharePoint Online? Beyond the basic technical topics, what should organizations consider as they decide to adopt or implement SharePoint Online? 

SharePoint_Online_UpdateSharePoint Online is a cloud-based service, hosted by Microsoft, for businesses of all sizes.

Instead of installing and deploying SharePoint Server on-premises, any business can subscribe to an Office 365 plan or to the standalone SharePoint Online service.

Employees can create sites to share documents and information with colleagues, partners, and customers. 

SharePoint 2013 Online is part of the Office 365 set of capabilities.

The set of products available via Office 365 includes:

  • Exchange - Email, calendaring, and contact management
  • Lync - Instant Messaging, VoIP, Video Conference, and PBX
  • SharePoint - Intranet, teams sites, and content collaboration
  • Yammer - Enterprise social networking
  • OneDrive - Storage of draft documents and files in the cloud to replace need for local storage
  • Office Online - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, Lync, InfoPath

SharePoint Online is offered with two types of subscription plans: “Business” and “Enterprise.”

Business plans for SharePoint Online are for companies with less than 300 users. The Enterprise plans are for larger companies. There are three key offerings within Enterprise (E1, E3, and E4) with each plan offering more capabilities than the previous plan, but at a slightly more expensive cost per user. Microsoft bundles Office 365 capabilities together, or offers SharePoint alone, which really is good for limited users.

Using SharePoint Online is compelling. The reduced time, effort and costs for infrastructure alone can provide a return on investment for many organizations. There are, of course, pros and cons to staying with on-premises or moving to SharePoint Online.


Microsoft has clearly favored promoting SharePoint Online over on-premises SharePoint. In late 2014, however, they announced that SharePoint 2016 on-premises will be released, and that it will include tighter integration with Office 365/SharePoint Online. Microsoft explains the value this way:

• SharePoint Online is part of a “Go-to Office Anywhere.”
• Microsoft is responsible for the infrastructure and application upgrades and changes.
• Security is built into SharePoint Online and it will include content encryption (late 2015).
• SharePoint Online is feature-rich and integrated with the Office 365 ecosystem.

SharePoint 2016

Microsoft has announced that SharePoint 2016 for on-premises use will go into beta in 2015, and will be released in 2016. This version is based on the online platform, and is not generated from the existing on-premises model. There will be deep integration with SharePoint Online and other Office 365 features such as Delve, search, encryption, and Yammer.

The approach to development for Online and on-premises will be similar, so that apps can work across both environments. Microsoft will also be including a new user interface level that is based on SharePoint “plumbing” which Microsoft calls “machine learning.”

Boards and microsites will be released, and these can provide multiple references to documents no matter where in SharePoint the document is published. This will put information into the context of the topic.Board and microsites will use Microsoft’s machine learning to recommend content to the user or group, based on behaviors, colleagues, and participation in other groups. 

These features will result in fundamental changes to the user experience. SharePoint sites will still exist, but Microsoft sees the interface to content through these features. This is part of what Microsoft says is “Connecting People to Information, and Connecting Information to People.”

SharePoint Online Whitepaper
Jim Kane

Jim Kane

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Jim Kane is the Director of Collaboration and Knowledge Management (KM) at Paragon Solutions. Jim leads the KM practice with a focus on knowledge management and SharePoint-based solutions that support day-to-day business optimization via virtual problem solving, communities of practice, knowledge repositories, role-based communication portals, partner collaboration, and information dashboards. He is co-author of a patent, “Methods of Knowledge Management,” and has over 15 years of experience teaching at the college level as an adjunct instructor. Jim has presented at numerous regional and national conferences on the topics of Knowledge Communities, Adoption Strategies for SharePoint, and Global SharePoint deployments.

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