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Microsoft SharePoint Online Not Ready

BVA has taken an active role in trying to take organizations in the cloud and it has been an upward battle to say the least.  BVA (technology consulting companies) has had some great success with Microsoft Exchange Online even though we have had some limitations, but overall we are happy with the service from Microsoft.  SharePoint in the cloud is a good product and works well but there are some pricing concerns as well as migration process.   I am somewhat of a fan of SharePoint Online itself via functionality and overall performance yet the cost is unrealistic and until Microsoft gets on board it will never take off below the Enterprise Space.  It’s a reliable, convenient service that allows companies to take advantage of SharePoint without having to host it themselves. It’s software-as-a-service at its best with no hardware or software investment upfront which is great.  SharePoint Online today is based on the 2007 version but with the new wave it should be up to the 2010 version by the end of the year.  I have been told that some of the service is currently on 2010 but it’s interesting because I cannot get a clear answer, to be blunt.  My thought is that some of the users are for testing purposes before the full release.  The service online does a good job providing some of the core SharePoint capabilities. At the end of the calendar year, SharePoint Online will be updated to SharePoint 2010 at which point it will be even more powerful & provide even greater parity with SharePoint 2010 “On-Premises”. This is largely due to all the investments Microsoft made in the 2010 wave.  With SharePoint 2007 today, a site collection serves as a tenant boundary delivering some of the core WSS 3.0 features along with some of the MOSS 2007 features such as web content management. However, when it comes to MOSS 2007 especially, not all of the features are optimal for multiple tenants.  With the 2010 wave,  SharePoint Online has significant improvements and enables a wide range of scenarios from small cosmetic changes to custom code solutions:

SharePoint Browser UX . The new SharePoint UX allows end-users to very easily modify the site theme, switch the site chrome (master page) and modify site content (web content, rich media and documents). The new wiki-like interface and new SharePoint Ribbon really make it easy to interact with and make SharePoint look and work the way you want.

Web Services. This builds on the existing extensibility we have with SharePoint 2007. SharePoint 2010 will continue to expose web services that external applications can call into.  

Business Connectivity Services (BCS). New to SharePoint Online, with SPD 2010 & BCS, you’ll be able to model business entities by connecting to WCF end points. This will allow you to connect your SharePoint Online application to external systems.

Client OM. New to SharePoint 2010, the client OM allows developers to develop solutions that don’t run on the server. This becomes a powerful way to develop .NET applications that integrate with SharePoint. A really great example of this: Silverlight applications. With the SharePoint Client OM & Silverlight, developers will be able to create really rich applications on top of SharePoint Online that run on the client, interact with the server (SharePoint Online) and are accessible across multiple browser technologies.

Sandbox Solutions. With the new Sandbox Solution feature, developers can now upload custom code into the SharePoint Online environment. Specifically, developers can use the new Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Tools to develop partially trusted code (Sandbox Solutions), package them up as a WSP and upload them into SharePoint Online. Examples include custom web parts and event receivers. While full-trust solutions will not be supported, this goes a long way to extending SharePoint Online with custom business logic. For some complex scenarios, I even envision developers developing hybrid SharePoint Online Sandbox Solutions with Windows Azure.

SharePoint Online SKUs for the 2010 Wave

  • $5.25 per license/per user
  • 250 MB per user, aggregated across the organization
  • $2.25 per additional GB (can get quite pricey for an organization)
  • 100 site collections
  • Enterprise USL Cals is self-explanatory as it provides Enterprise CAL functionality
  • Internet Sites offer provides a public facing website portal with underlying web content management (WCM); the Partner Access offer enables company employees to collaborate with authenticated external partners within SharePoint Online.
Still one of the greatest things about SharePoint Online is the low cost of ownership and being a very valuable Intranet.  Keeping everyone up to date and provide the starting point to search across the company for important documents and people.  Being able to share documents and insights securely with partners as well as internal and external customers.  Also an great value add was the Extranet Sites that are easy to set-up it and designed to keep you in control of the information you share with customers and partners.

Technical requirements for Local Desktops

Windows 7: 1 gigahertz (GHz) Pentium processor and 1 gigabyte (GB) of system RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB of system RAM (64-bit)

Windows Vista: 1 GHz Pentium processor or faster and 1 GB or more of system RAM

Windows XP: 500 MHz Pentium processor or faster (recommended 1 GHz) and 256 MB or more of system RAM

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