SharePoint 2010 is the most recent version of Microsoft's collaboration and document management application. Companies are able to utilize SharePoint to create as well as deploy web sites, collaboration workspaces, and document databases, thereby enabling their staff members to discuss material and obtain essential information. As a web-based system, SharePoint lets employees to converse, work together, and enhance productivity, whether they are in different corners of the same building or on different parts of the planet.
Organizations can take advantage of the following SharePoint features:
� Integration with other Microsoft products such as Office and Exchange Server.
� Hosting functionality for the company intranet, extranet, and Internet sites.
� Collaboration tools to connect project teams.
� Content management system tools to manage files from beginning to end and share them with the appropriate personnel.
Three Options for Implementation
After deciding that SharePoint is a essential business tool, the question of implementation remains. Companies have three selections: self hosting, shared hosting, or virtual dedicated hosting.
Businesses could produce an in-house solution for hosting and maintaining SharePoint. The advantage of this option is that the company sustains complete control over the infrastructure. The IT department would select the hardware, create the server room, and integrate the new SharePoint solution with the office�s present systems and applications.
The downside to self hosting is substantial cost. Companies would have to spend a lot of capital in staffing, equipment, and licensing. For instance, an average setup would come with one or more dedicated server for SharePoint and possibly another to run SQL. Each machine would typically need 8-core processors and 8GB of RAM. New equipment implies a need for added space, including room for power and cooling systems. In addition, the typical business Internet connection is not likely to be fast enough to handle all outside users to properly benefit from SharePoint�s offerings, so an upgrade is usually required. In terms of software, SQL Standard Edition calls for licensing for each individual user. And don�t forget about backup costs. Even for a small implementation, the typical consumer is looking at $5,000 for the right hardware and software to avoid data loss. If the company lacks on-site IT support staff, the fee could double due to installation fees. All things considered, a company could find itself waiting weeks or months before SharePoint is fully functional.
Even after everything is installed, there is commonly no built-in protection from hardware failure and no clustering to guarantee servers stay online, meaning that the company could be confronted with additional expenses to speedily fix or exchange equipment and prevent disruption of day-to-day operations.
Another option is for companies to purchase a shared SharePoint hosting solution from a third-party service provider. The advantage of this option is that the company does not have to spend important resources and staff time to develop its own solution. There's little capital expense, no need to worry about licensing software, managing a backup strategy, or upgrading or replacing hardware (although the hosting provider may or may not cluster servers or provide assured server uptime). A clear strength of hosting companies is that they offer very good Internet connectivity. Since the infrastructure already exists, companies can be functioning in a few days or weeks. Usually, the hosting firm will also provide backup services and technical support, which is a definite plus.
The drawback to this option is that the hosting firm typically works with a shared system with an active database. This configuration can intermingle data from numerous clients on a single server. There are frequently negative impacts on performance that each business is helpless to resolve. If the company wishes to migrate data to a new service provider, the process is problematic and error-prone, which means portability is, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent. If the company wants to integrate into their own Exchange environment, they have to host it in the same place, meaning that users must have accounts in their Active Directory and on one, distinct system. This constraint restricts the company�s entry to Active Directory management tools and prevents its ability to install any third-party applications that leverage SharePoint�s highly effective capabilities.
Virtual Dedicated Hosting
Many organizations find that the best solution is to implement a virtual dedicated SharePoint hosting solution. This method includes the benefits of self-hosting or shared-hosting solutions while removing the drawbacks of each. Each customer connects to a virtual dedicated server with SQL and SharePoint, with entry to Active Directory management tools and ability to integrate their local Active Directory and Exchange running a Virtual Private Network connection. Alternatively, the business can integrate an Exchange solution at the hosting company.
In essence, the look and feel is comparable to a company hosting its own SharePoint solution, supplying the desired efficiency and mobility while decreasing expense and complexity. Benefits include:
� No large capital investment
� Simple subscription-based business model with ability to stop service at any time
� Reduced licensing costs
� Ability to install any 3rd party software
� Option to apply SQL server to other business uses
� Simple data migration if you want to move operations in-house or to another provider
� Protection from hardware failures or data loss
� Ability to adjust resources to improve performance
� Reduced in-house IT staff burdens and costs
� 100% uptime (when clustered using VMware)
� Excellent Internet connectivity (100Mbps or better)
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