SharePoint 2013: Online Vs. On Premise- It’s time to take the call

Microsoft has been doing every little to retain its position in the enterprise IT space. In this cloud era, where anything and everything is being imagined in the cloud, SharePoint is no different!

Microsoft being the visionary, came up with BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) as its first attempt in the SaaS cloud space and eventually released Office 365 in the year 2011. Office 365 was a much stable release compared to the previous one and there has been significant improvements on it. Since it was feature reached comprising of the latest versions of SharePoint, Exchange, Lync and office products etc., and also could target a bigger customer base, it picked up really well. Microsoft claims that one in four customers have already moved to Office 365! There is definitely a big push around the globe about moving to the cloud, and it’s high time you should have your strategy in place. So far so good, but choosing one between ‘SharePoint Online’ and ‘SharePoint on premise’ to go with, is still a million dollar question for many organizations! Well, both of them have got their own sets of advantages and limitations. So, I would say it totally depends on the organizational requirement. Let’s explore them both and analyze their advantages and limitations on the following grounds to see which ones could be leveraged for an organization:

SharePoint On premise SharePoint Online
Investment
  • Licensing Cost more- Windows Server, SQL, SharePoint, SharePoint CALs for each user
  • Hardware Cost more- Physical server, Network Infra, storage
  • One time investment
  • Technically trained staff required –Admins and Architects
  • Licensing Cost less- only per user per month licensing cost
  • No Hardware Cost- no hardware setup required on premise to access
  • Pay as you use
  • No technical staff required to manage SharePoint Infra
Security
  • Manual security enforcement needed- Buy SSL and implement
  • For Data encryption, any custom security can be implemented
  • By default configured with SSL (always https) and not manual effort needed
  • For Data encryption, no custom security can be implemented and you have to choose from the existing ones such as ISO 27001, Safe Harbor, SSAE16 SOC1 Type II, FISMA etc
Development
  • Full trust solution can be deployed- Features in farm solutions can have scope as wide as the site collection, web application, or whole farm
  • Public facing website with much of customization is possible
  • Custom “Managed Path” allowed
  • More control can be delegated to power users
  • Full trust solution cannot be deployed- Only Sandbox solutions possible with scope up to the site collection level
  • Public facing website with much of customization is not possible
  • Custom “Managed Path” allowed
  • More control cannot be delegated to power users and maxim privilege level is Site Collection level.
Auditing
  • Good Out of the box audit feature with details of user actions on Site, List, List items, Library, Library files etc. of site collection
  • Customization with Custom Development possible to get more information
  • Poor out of the box audit feature and only provides very basic information
  • Much of customization with Custom Development not supported (only minimal support such as resolving GUIDs through client object model)
Automation
  • Implementing complex workflows for any almost kind of business logic is possible
  • Automating the business processes is easy
  • Implementing complex workflows is not supported
  • Automating the business processes is not easy
Backup
  • Enterprise grade reliability needs to be ensured by yourself by investing on manpower , hardware infra, and involves more work
  • You can define your own backup strategies such as frequency of backup, type of backups etc.
  • You will always have full control over your backup and will be accessible to you
  • Enterprise grade reliability assured by Microsoft: Office 365 comes with a financially-backed 99.9% up-time guarantee!
  • You will not have the freedom to define your strategy and you have to trust Microsoft
  • You will not have control over the backups by default. You might have to raise a ticket to Microsoft to access the backup.
Data Management
  • Managing GBs or TBs of data is easier (good for organizations with huge internal data)
  • More control on how you would want to manage your data with more of custom code support
  • In case you would want to discontinue using SharePoint, it would not be so difficult to get all your data out of SharePoint
  • Managing TBs of data is comparatively very difficult (not so good for organizations with huge internal data)
  • Less control on how you would want to manage your data as not much of custom code is supported
  • In case you would want to discontinue using SharePoint, it would be very difficult to get all your data out of SharePoint
Global Presence
  • If your company has operations across the globe, there are some options to have local SharePoint server setup with the same content. You can replicate the SharePoint content on multiple servers across geographies so that the site access would be local to the region and would be faster
  • If your company has operations across the globe, then there could be performance issues with SharePoint online, because, while subscribing for SharePoint Online, you would have to select a region and based on that the nearest datacenter will be allotted. There are no provisions as such to get your SharePoint online site hosted on multiple datacenters at different geographies.

Considering the above facts, you might still have to spend some more time defining the requirements clearly to find yourself on a state to take the final call. I suggest you should also keep in mind the growth your organization might have in near future so that the solution you choose should be able to accommodate the growing needs of your business.

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