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SharePoint in the real world – what version and what platform should I use?

So you’ve decided on SharePoint or you may have SharePoint in your current environment, at this point you may feel like you have more questions than answers, welcome to the club! LOL!

 

Let’s discuss two very important questions:

1)     What version of SharePoint should I use?

2)     What platform should it run on?


When you search those topics, the results are overwhelming and confusing. Luckily, we will discuss the best options, in the real world, your world and not in “the perfect world with unlimited funds”

 

What version of SharePoint should I use?

A majority of client environments I work with on a regular basis have the following versions in production

  • SharePoint 2010
  • SharePoint 2013
  • SharePoint Online (Office 365)

For the sake of the discussion and comparison, I will also include SharePoint 2016 as well. Some highlights of each version are:

 

-        SharePoint 2010 was a truly major upgrade to the SharePoint platform, it introduced a new user ribbon interface, co-authoring features, and it was Microsoft’s first true foray into social computing and knowledge management.

-        SharePoint 2013 was the next step in platform improvements. In my opinion the biggest improvement was with search. In the previous platform, FAST Search was a separate platform that had to be administered separately and then integrated into the environment. SharePoint 2013 incorporated FAST search into one platform.

-        SharePoint Online (Office 365) is the Microsoft platform for the cloud. (NOTE: The term “Cloud” simply means that you use an application that is hosted somewhere else and accessed via the intranet. In other words, if you use Gmail then you are using the cloud)

-        SharePoint 2016 was released in March of this year and the biggest changes are in the backend by increasing content database and list item limits. There are also vast improvements in hybrid integrations.  

 

Now the question is what version should you either implement or upgrade too. Below is a guide as to what you should do:

 

Current Version

Usage

Recommendations

Comments

None

Basic Intranet Usage / Document Storage / No Customizations

SharePoint Online

This is the best option for basic usage. No administration needs and have the ability for dynamic storage

None

Advanced usage (i.e. workflows, customizations), Heavier usage where SharePoint is a critical application

SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013 is so mature and rich in features it makes it the obvious choice above and beyond SharePoint 2016.

SharePoint 2010

All environment types and usages

SharePoint 2016

The reason for the SharePoint 2016 recommendation here is simply because of having the longest support possible

SharePoint 2013 / SharePoint Online

All environment types and usages

Stand Pat

No need to upgrade as the features for SharePoint 2016 are not worth the migration costs

 

What platform should I use?

So what does this question actually mean? What platform? Well, the SharePoint environment has to run on a Windows Server. The minimum requirements are Windows Server 2008 R2, 32 GB RAM, Quad Core, with a 60 GB C: and 120 GB Data drive. So where should the server be? There are three options available to us:

 

-        Physical Servers -  Physical Servers are the traditional way of doing things and involve a piece(s) of hardware that are configured to perform the tasks of your business. Generally, this hardware is in your server room / break room.

-        Virtual Servers - A Virtual Server is normally one of many servers that operate upon a single physical server with each virtual server sharing the resources of the physical server between them.

-        Cloud Servers – Cloud Servers are virtual server but instead of the physical server being hosted in your environment, it’s hosted outside of your environment.

 

The best recommendation would be to use Cloud Servers in a hosted environment. A few of the pros are:

 

-        Scalable – add more server power in a moment’s notice.

-        Custom Infrastructure - clients can include custom network architecture, firewalls, load balancing and IP deployment.

-        High Availability - if a physical server fails, cloud servers are migrated to another physical server without experiencing an outage.

-        Sharable Computing Resources - no concern about lagging RAM or CPU power, even if another cloud customer's load grows.

 

Conclusion

So to summarize, the best bet to implement would be SharePoint 2013 in a cloud hosted environment and I would be remiss if I did not say that we at King Strategy Solutions specialize in analyzing your environment, capacity planning and determining the best approach as part of our SharePoint Landscape Assessment.


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