Understanding SharePoint Architecture: A Guide for Beginners
SharePoint is a powerful platform developed by Microsoft that allows organizations to create websites, intranets, and collaboration spaces. It provides a wide range of features and functionalities that can be customized to meet specific business needs. In this guide, we will explore the architecture of SharePoint and understand how it works.
SharePoint Architecture Overview
SharePoint architecture is based on a three-tier model consisting of the presentation layer, application layer, and data layer. Let’s dive deeper into each layer:
1. Presentation Layer
The presentation layer is responsible for rendering the user interface and displaying the content to the users. It includes web pages, master pages, and user controls. SharePoint provides a rich set of tools and templates to design and customize the look and feel of the websites and intranets.
2. Application Layer
The application layer is the core of SharePoint architecture. It consists of various components such as web application, site collection, site, and lists/libraries. The web application acts as a container for site collections, which in turn contain sites. Sites can have multiple lists and libraries to store and manage data.
3. Data Layer
The data layer is responsible for storing and managing the content and configuration data of SharePoint. It includes databases, such as the configuration database, content database, and service application databases. The configuration database stores the configuration settings of SharePoint, while the content database stores the actual content of the sites.
SharePoint Deployment Options
SharePoint can be deployed in different environments based on the organization’s requirements. The two main deployment options are:
1. SharePoint On-Premise
In an on-premise deployment, SharePoint is installed and hosted on the organization’s own servers. This gives organizations full control over the infrastructure and allows them to customize and extend SharePoint according to their needs. However, it requires significant upfront investment in hardware, software, and maintenance.
2. SharePoint Online
SharePoint Online is a cloud-based version of SharePoint that is hosted and managed by Microsoft. It offers a cost-effective solution for organizations that do not want to invest in infrastructure and maintenance. SharePoint Online provides similar features and functionalities as the on-premise version, but with the added benefits of scalability and accessibility from anywhere.
Intranet Design and Development
SharePoint is widely used for building intranets, which are internal websites that serve as a central hub for communication, collaboration, and information sharing within an organization. Here are some key considerations for designing and developing an intranet using SharePoint:
1. Information Architecture
Before starting the development process, it is important to define the information architecture of the intranet. This involves organizing the content into logical structures, such as departments, teams, and projects, and defining the navigation and search functionalities.
2. User Experience
The user experience plays a crucial role in the success of an intranet. It is important to design a user-friendly interface that is intuitive and easy to navigate. SharePoint provides various tools and features, such as web parts and custom workflows, to enhance the user experience.
3. Customization and Branding
SharePoint allows organizations to customize the look and feel of their intranet by applying custom branding and themes. This helps in creating a consistent and professional appearance that aligns with the organization’s brand identity.
Outsourcing SharePoint Development
Many organizations choose to outsource their SharePoint development to specialized agencies. Here are some benefits of outsourcing SharePoint development:
1. Expertise and Experience
SharePoint development agencies have a team of experienced professionals who specialize in SharePoint development. They have in-depth knowledge of the platform and can provide expert guidance and support throughout the development process.
2. Cost Savings
Outsourcing SharePoint development can be cost-effective compared to hiring an in-house team. Organizations can save on recruitment, training, and infrastructure costs by partnering with a SharePoint development agency.
3. Time Efficiency
By outsourcing SharePoint development, organizations can save time and focus on their core business activities. The development agency takes care of the entire development process, from requirements gathering to deployment and maintenance.
Managed SharePoint Services
In addition to development, many agencies also offer managed SharePoint services. These services include ongoing support, maintenance, and monitoring of SharePoint environments. Here are some benefits of managed SharePoint services:
1. Proactive Monitoring
Managed SharePoint services include proactive monitoring of the SharePoint environment to identify and resolve any issues before they impact the users. This helps in ensuring the availability and performance of the intranet.
2. Regular Updates and Patches
The SharePoint platform is regularly updated by Microsoft with new features, security patches, and bug fixes. Managed SharePoint services ensure that the environment is always up to date with the latest updates, reducing the risk of security vulnerabilities.
3. Technical Support
Managed SharePoint services provide technical support to address any issues or queries related to SharePoint. This ensures that organizations have access to expert support whenever they need it.
SharePoint architecture is a complex system that consists of multiple layers and components. Understanding the architecture is essential for designing, developing, and managing SharePoint websites and intranets. Whether organizations choose to deploy SharePoint on-premise or opt for SharePoint Online, they can benefit from the extensive features and functionalities offered by the platform. Outsourcing SharePoint development and opting for managed SharePoint services can further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of SharePoint implementations.