Hosted SharePoint Services: Pros, Cons and Alternatives
SharePoint is a powerful platform developed by Microsoft that allows organizations to create websites, intranets, and collaboration spaces. It offers a wide range of features and capabilities that can be customized to meet specific business needs. When it comes to implementing SharePoint, organizations have the option to choose between hosted SharePoint services, on-premise SharePoint, or SharePoint Online. In this article, we will explore the pros, cons, and alternatives of hosted SharePoint services.
What are Hosted SharePoint Services?
Hosted SharePoint services refer to the practice of outsourcing the hosting and management of SharePoint to a third-party provider. Instead of hosting SharePoint on-premise, organizations can choose to have their SharePoint environment hosted in the cloud by a service provider. This allows organizations to focus on their core business activities while leaving the technical aspects of SharePoint to the experts.
Pros of Hosted SharePoint Services
There are several advantages to using hosted SharePoint services:
- Cost Savings: By opting for hosted SharePoint services, organizations can save on upfront infrastructure costs. They do not need to invest in servers, hardware, or software licenses, as these are provided by the hosting provider.
- Scalability: Hosted SharePoint services offer the flexibility to scale up or down based on the organization’s needs. As the business grows, additional resources can be easily provisioned without the need for significant upfront investments.
- Expertise: Hosting providers specialize in SharePoint and have a team of experts who are well-versed in the platform. They can provide technical support, maintenance, and updates, ensuring that the SharePoint environment is always up to date and running smoothly.
- Security: Hosted SharePoint services often come with robust security measures in place, including data encryption, firewalls, and regular backups. This helps protect sensitive information and ensures compliance with industry regulations.
- Accessibility: With hosted SharePoint services, users can access their SharePoint environment from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection. This enables remote collaboration and improves productivity.
Cons of Hosted SharePoint Services
While there are many benefits to using hosted SharePoint services, there are also some drawbacks to consider:
- Dependency on the Hosting Provider: Organizations that opt for hosted SharePoint services are reliant on the hosting provider for the availability and performance of their SharePoint environment. If the hosting provider experiences downtime or technical issues, it can impact the organization’s operations.
- Limited Customization: Hosted SharePoint services may have limitations when it comes to customization. Organizations may not have full control over the SharePoint environment and may be restricted in terms of custom development and integration with other systems.
- Data Security Concerns: While hosted SharePoint services offer security measures, some organizations may have concerns about storing sensitive data in the cloud. They may prefer to keep their data on-premise for added control and security.
- Long-Term Costs: While hosted SharePoint services can provide cost savings in the short term, organizations need to consider the long-term costs. Monthly or annual hosting fees can add up over time, and organizations may find that it is more cost-effective to host SharePoint on-premise.
- Vendor Lock-In: When organizations choose a hosting provider for their SharePoint environment, they may become locked into that provider’s services. Switching providers or moving the SharePoint environment in-house can be complex and time-consuming.
Alternatives to Hosted SharePoint Services
If hosted SharePoint services are not the right fit for an organization, there are alternative options to consider:
- On-Premise SharePoint: Organizations can choose to host SharePoint on-premise, which gives them full control over the environment. This option requires upfront investments in infrastructure and ongoing maintenance and support.
- SharePoint Online: SharePoint Online is a cloud-based version of SharePoint that is part of Microsoft 365. It offers many of the same features as hosted SharePoint services but is managed by Microsoft. This option provides the benefits of the cloud while still allowing for customization and control.
- Outsourcing SharePoint Development: Organizations can choose to outsource SharePoint development to a specialized agency. This allows them to leverage the expertise of professionals who can design and develop a custom SharePoint solution tailored to their specific needs.
- Managed SharePoint Services: Instead of fully outsourcing SharePoint, organizations can opt for managed SharePoint services. This involves partnering with a provider who will handle the management and maintenance of the SharePoint environment, while the organization retains control over customization and development.
Hosted SharePoint services offer many benefits, including cost savings, scalability, expertise, security, and accessibility. However, there are also drawbacks to consider, such as dependency on the hosting provider, limited customization, data security concerns, long-term costs, and vendor lock-in. Organizations that are not suited for hosted SharePoint services can explore alternatives such as on-premise SharePoint, SharePoint Online, outsourcing SharePoint development, or managed SharePoint services. It is important for organizations to carefully evaluate their needs and consider the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.