29/06/11

By Brett Lonsdale, co-founder of Lightningtools.com

Is Cloud computing just another hot buzzword? If you are within the IT space, you will have done exceptionally well to avoid the term cloud computing. Organizations that use SharePoint have very mixed views as to whether SharePoint in the cloud will provide them benefits. Therefore, lets discuss some of the top ten benefits for cloud computing with SharePoint.

1.More accessible to smaller organizations

Whether you use SharePoint Enterprise or even the License Exempt (Free) SharePoint Foundations, you will have to incur costs. Even with SharePoint Foundations, you will need hardware, and software such as SQL Server, Windows Server, Backup Software, and of course any 3rd party applications. Just because SharePoint is free, it doesn’t mean that getting SharePoint will be cheap.

With Microsofts cloud version of SharePoint, namely Office 365 you can begin enjoying SharePoint within your organizations for a nominal per user amount. In large enterprise organizations, the cost becomes large but certainly cloud computing for small to medium sized businesses makes sense financially.

2.Less overhead for general support and maintenance

As well SharePoint in the cloud being cheaper on your wallet for hardware and software expenditure, you will also find that part of your subscription cost will include maintenance as well. If you have SharePoint on premises, your environment will need to be managed, maintained and supported.

3.Guaranteed up time

Whether you host SharePoint with a third party or with Microsoft, you will find that all of them come with a guaranteed uptime. If SharePoint is on premise, you will have to provide that guarantee. Most companies will not be able to offer such guarantees due to things out of their control such as loss of power, loss of internet as well as environmental issues such as flooding or fires.

4.Begin collaborating sooner — Cut Deployment Time

Getting SharePoint into an organization takes a lot of planning. This isn’t the kind of software that gets installed within minutes by clicking Next, Next, Finish. SharePoint requires all stakeholders in the business to help plan solutions for each role as well as architectural planning which is so often miscalculated. Having SharePoint in the cloud allows you to spend your time on the business processes instead of worrying about architecture planning.

5.Share information in real time

SharePoint content whether on premise or in the cloud means that the content can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Having the content hosted in the cloud allows for greater uptime allowing that information to be available around the clock in every country and time zone.

6.Accessible via mobile devices

Many things such as enabling SharePoint content to be available through mobile devices will require a lot of setup. Office 365 provides this for you, making it far easier for companies to get up and running and collaborates remotely from their mobile devices.

7.Can mix cloud and on premises using a hybrid environment

Some larger organizations will still require that some services are available which need to be on premise. Take for example the displaying of Business Data from external sources such as SAP or SQL Server. If this information is only available within your organizations network, that alone may be a reason why you do not make the move to the cloud. However, most cloud providers understand this and will work with you to provide a hybrid solution where you get the best of both worlds.

8.Pay only for services used

User adoption is one of the greatest hurdles to overcome when you decide to implement SharePoint. With Cloud computing, you can provide your users with just the services that they require. You can then increase the services later when they are required meaning that you can manage your budget easier by only paying for the services used.

9.Greater Security

Security is one of the reasons that organizations object to Cloud Computing. However, hosters such as Microsoft spend millions of dollars ensuring that their hosting environment is totally secure. It is considered that many businesses cannot or do not say the same for their own on premise environments.

10.Still deploy third party products

Another concern is whether you can deploy third party products that enhance SharePoint when using Share Point in the cloud. Through the Sandboxed Solution technology, third party web parts can still be deployed. If you are creating solutions that require more than that, you can often still work with the SharePoint hosters to have the solutions made available.