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Q&A with Jeremy Thake: SharePoint as a Service

Once you decide to run SharePoint in the cloud, what's the best way to present it to your various constituents as a service? Jeremy Thake, an enterprise architect at AvePoint Inc. and upcoming sessions speaker at this year's Live! 360 event, has experience working with organizations that have numerous workloads and has taken time to answer some questions for those considering taking the SharePoint plunge.

Q: Why should a shop consider online SharePoint?
The main reason to look for a cloud-based provider for SharePoint is to outsource the operational and maintenance costs of running SharePoint on-premises. If you put it into perspective, while organizations are cognizant of the hardware cost of SharePoint on-premises, they often forget about the real estate, power, redundant systems and staff that are also necessary. When you take all of this into account, the reduced-cost story becomes even more compelling.

Q: What are the economics?
Each provider has different pricing models, some per-user-subscription-based and some based on each tenancy you're running in their environment. For small companies, SharePoint can be extremely expensive compared to the subscription-based models.

Q: How can I trust that it's secure?
All providers of SharePoint Online provide details of their privacy policies, and it's extremely important that you read them carefully in order to fully understand the risk of exposure for your company's data. Each provider offers different ways in which they ensure security -- including physical; virtual, such as the ability to quickly isolate compromised VMs from the rest of the system; and personnel, such as need-only access, regularly expiring access and so on.

Q: How do I choose a provider?
From a provider perspective, Microsoft Office 365 provides SharePoint 2010 Online at a very competitive rate, bundled alongside Exchange and Lync. At this stage, there are smaller ISVs that provide hosted SharePoint environments, but it's more IaaS that requires management at a deeper level than Office 365. Your choice of a provider should really depend on the level of management you need inside SharePoint.

Q: What requirements should I have?
SharePoint Online is ready for any small business to start utilizing the document-management features of the platform with built-in search, collaboration and social capabilities, as well as advanced integration with the Microsoft Office desktop suite.

Q: How can a provider understand my business and my app?
Providers have different levels of consultative services. For example, Microsoft can utilize its Microsoft Consulting Services wing to advise a customer on the optimal information architecture for their specific business needs, while others may only offer the platform.

Q: Doesn't this kind of outsourcing threaten IT jobs?
A: I don't think that SaaS threatens IT jobs -- not even IT pros who today currently maintain on-premises SharePoint servers. Sure, their roles will change, but they'll just be more focused on delivering business solutions rather than keeping the lights on.

If heading out to Orlando for this year's Live! 360 event in December, make sure to catch Jeremy's workshop, "Presenting SharePoint as a Service Back to Your Organization."

Posted by Doug Barney on 11/02/2012 at 1:19 PM


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