What is SharePoint?
Organizations use SharePoint to create websites. You can use it as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from any device. All you need is a web browser, such as Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox.
SharePoint was created by Microsoft in 2001, SharePoint offers users a versatile tool for collaboration, productivity, and many enterprise based utilities. Network administrators may integrate SharePoint into an intranet network to allow end users—typically in a business setting—to store documents, organize files, and collaborate on projects all through one easy to use platform. Easy to deploy and to manage, SharePoint enhances productivity through well-engineered tools for collaboration.
Because it provides users with a Microsoft Office-like look and feel, IT professionals and network administrators love it. Due, in large part, to its familiar setup and navigation, SharePoint requires minimal training of team members that will use it. It is ideal for mid to large sized businesses, where time spent training team members can really cut into the bottom line. Indeed, the software caters to companies in this size range; smaller companies can still use it but may find some of its functionality a bit more than they need.
Type of SharePoint 2016 available:
1. SharePoint Server
Organizations can deploy and manage SharePoint Server on-premises. It includes all the features of SharePoint Foundation. And it offers additional features and capabilities, such as Enterprise Content Management, business intelligence, enterprise search, personal sites, and Newsfeed.
2. SharePoint Online
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. Your employees can create sites to share documents and information with colleagues, partners, and customers. To get started storing your files on your team site.
3. SharePoint Hybrid
SharePoint can be used in the following ways: On-premise on enterprise hardware, or through cloud-based implementation. With SharePoint 2016, a third way has emerged that has gone down well with enterprises: IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), also known as Hybrid Deployment. See More info for Pricing Plan on Microsoft site
SharePoint has come a long way over the years, from its early days, as a simple server management tool, to its use today, as a sophisticated file sharing and management software suite. Over the years, SharePoint has been used by companies to maximize productivity, build incredible websites, and much more. It has grown with the Internet and changed over time, becoming more powerful and comprehensive with every iteration. Better yet, the future of SharePoint looks bright, with incredible new innovations on their way for the next generation of users.
The Beginning of SharePoint
SharePoint has evolved from two projects born during the development cycle of Office XP: Office Server and Tahoe. Office Server provided the simplest of network administration actions, while Tahoe expanded on the email, calendaring, contacts, and to-do list technology contained within Exchange. By combining the best features of Office Server and Tahoe into a single program, Microsoft created their natural progeny: SharePoint.
The SharePoint framework debuted in 2001 to mixed reviews. It allowed simpler network provisioning, making collaboration a much less labor-intensive process of IT workers. While this was useful, it was still clunky and unattractive. Thus, Microsoft developed successive iterations to address these shortcomings. Many of these revisions resulted from comments and concerns raised by the users, making the changes very natural, organic, and responsive.
In its early days, SharePoint experienced several setbacks, prompting concerned users to complain about malfunctioning services, lack of customization, and unattractive interfaces. Microsoft heard these concerns and responded by correcting authentication and server database issues, improving user interfaces, and providing more options for customization. The result: a platform that provides network administrators and users with a smooth, familiar, and intuitive experience that is easily compatible with a wide variety of third-party software applications. Earlier versions of the software also suffered from limited functionality; later versions added more powerful tools for collaboration, file sharing, access, and even cloud functionality.
Today, users on virtually any popular browser can take full advantage of all of SharePoint’s functionality, whether in the same office as the server hosting the software or abroad. Moreover, the breadth of available features has expanded to include function like social profiles, workspaces, customizable themes, and wiki-page templates.
It started as a shared document management and indexing application, but it grew to become an early portal solution.
This version provided a collaboration store, better web interfaces, search functions, improved management and taxonomy, and the ability to personalize the product. This made SharePoint into a more scalable portal product.
This edition included Business Data Catalog and InfoPath Form Services.
This version included an enhanced user interface, superior ways to interface with business data, new workflow options, use of wiki pages in templates, social profiles and networking features, a re-designed client editor, and expanded support for a wider array of browsers.
The 2013 update to SharePoint was a more incremental change to a software suite that was, by that point, quite robust. Aside from a number of small improvements, bug fixes, and tweaks to the appearance and user interface, the biggest additions to this version included database caching, called Cache Service, and content-aware switching, called Management.
Microsoft continued to develop “on-premises” deployments of SharePoint “for the foreseeable future.” With this in mind, Microsoft explains it is focusing on hybrid deployments so companies can more easily blend the cloud with their existing on-premises server infrastructure. This is a newer, more exciting addition to SharePoint and was introduced outside of the regular version update cycle. Hybrid SharePoint Environments provides the flexibility of using SharePoint in both a local server and cloud-based setting. In other words, SharePoint can now live in the cloud, allowing a company’s workers to use its functionality regardless of where they are in the world. Cloud computing also protects the data stored and accessed with SharePoint, as it spreads the information among multiple servers across the Internet with multiple redundant backups.
High-end functions and those requiring the strictest levels of security may remain on the local server to provide as much security as possible, while more frequently used and less sensitive functions may be served from the cloud. This provides the ultimate balance between convenience, security, and redundancy. Moreover, the hybrid version is highly customizable, allowing network administrators to modify what features live on which servers, in order to best suit the needs of the company.
The Future of SharePoint
With all of these innovations, it may be difficult to imagine what the future may hold for this fast-evolving, highly versatile, and massively useful business tool. Yet, change is inevitable, and the future seems bright for this platform.
Microsoft has already announced plans to further improve the cloud experience of SharePoint before releasing the next generation, to be known as SharePoint 2016, to the public. The next generation should more deeply integrate cloud functionality, adding additional storage and backup options, into the core of SharePoint. Microsoft plans to integrate SharePoint into its popular Office 365 suite of online productivity tools, providing users with a constantly updated and up-to-date version of the software for the most powerful experience possible. Moreover, a number of additional features and tweaks, yet to be announced, should further enhance the platform’s clout and functionality in exciting new ways users are sure to love.
What Can SharePoint do for my Department?
Being able to access information remotely is not just a luxury anymore, it’s critical, which is why SharePoint 2016 will include even better mobile access and “touch-based experiences” for all devices and screen sizes. Advancements in cloud-based applications like Office Graph and Delve will allow users to easily find contextually relevant information and data stored either on-site or on the cloud. A SharePoint site can help you:
- Coordinate projects, calendars, and schedules.
- Discuss ideas and review documents or proposals.
- Share information and keep in touch with other people.
- Have a central database for policy and department documents.
- Organize team projects under a centralized top-level Org Unit site.
- Create member and contact lists.
- Maintain agendas with meeting workspaces.
- Utilize Sharepoint with Word, Excel, and Outlook!
- SharePoint sites are dynamic and interactive. Members of the site can contribute their own ideas and content as well as comment on or contribute to other people’s.
SharePoint 2016 will also include several enhancements for cloud-based file sharing and collaboration. Although many companies now use the cloud, there are others who prefer to keep their server on site. The new SharePoint will include “hybrid” options that will allow companies to pick and choose which applications and files they want to use in the cloud, and which ones they prefer to keep on site.Improved integration with Windows Server and Exchange Server 2016 will make user training and IT management much easier.
Compliance and Reporting
Keeping data secure is a top priority for business executives and IT personnel. Microsoft understands how devastating security breaches can be, which is why SharePoint Server 2016 will include new features for ensuring any sensitive information is secure. These compliance tools will be available for both the on-premises and Office 365 cloud version of SharePoint. Microsoft also explains how the 2016 version will have improved self-service capabilities for ensuring content is used in accordance with company policies.
IT professionals and business executives will be able to get a glimpse of SharePoint 2016’s features at the company’s Ignite event in Chicago from May 4th through May 8th. Or, a company can apply to Microsoft’s Technology Adoption Program and be at the forefront of this next generation of SharePoint.