Finding the Ideal SharePoint Hosting Option

SharePoint 2010 is the newest version of Microsoft’s collaboration and document management software. Businesses can apply SharePoint to build and deploy web sites, collaboration workspaces, and document repositories, and thus providing their staff to share data and access necessary data. As a web-based program, SharePoint allows staff members to connect, work together, and expand efficiency, whether they are in different corners of the same building or on different parts of the planet.Companies can take advantage of the following SharePoint features:
Integration with other Microsoft products such as Office and Exchange Server.
Hosting capabilities for the company intranet, extranet, and Internet sites.
Collaboration tools to connect project teams.
Content management system tools to handle files from beginning to end and discuss them with the proper personnel.
Three Selections for ImplementationAfter deciding that SharePoint is a vital business tool, the question of execution remains. Organizations have three options: self hosting, shared hosting, or virtual dedicated hosting.Self HostingOrganizations could build an in-house solution for hosting and maintaining SharePoint. The advantage of this option is that the company retains complete management of the infrastructure. The IT department would buy the hardware, setup the server room, and integrate the new SharePoint solution with the office’s current systems and applications.The downside to self hosting is tremendous cost. Companies would need to expend a lot of capital in staffing, hardware, and licensing. For instance, an average setup would come with at least one dedicated server for SharePoint and possibly a second to run SQL. Each machine would typically need 8-core processors and 8GB of RAM. New equipment implies a need for additional 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 often needed. In terms of software, SQL Standard Edition requires licensing for each individual user. And don’t overlook backup fees. 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 does not have on-site IT support staff, the cost could double due to installation fees. That being said, a company could find itself waiting weeks or months before SharePoint is fully operational.Even after everything is installed, there is frequently no built-in defense against hardware failure and no clustering to guarantee servers stay online, meaning that the company could possibly be confronted with additional expenditures to quickly fix or exchange equipment and avoid disruption of day-to-day operations.Shared HostingAnother choice is for companies to purchase a shared SharePoint hosting solution from a third-party supplier. The advantage of this choice is that the company won’t have to spend important resources and staff time to produce its own solution. There is little capital investment, no need to stress about licensing software, managing a backup strategy, or upgrading or replacing hardware (although the hosting vendor may or may not cluster servers or provide assured server uptime). A definite strength of hosting companies is that they offer good Internet connectivity. Since the infrastructure already exists, companies can be operational in a few days or weeks. Usually, the hosting firm will also give backup services and technical support, which is a definite plus.The drawback to this approach is that the hosting firm typically uses a shared system with an existing database. This configuration can intermingle data from multiple clients on a single server. There are frequently negative impacts on performance that each business is powerless to resolve. If the company wants 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 wishes to integrate into their own Exchange environment, they have to host it in the same place, meaning that users need to have accounts in their Active Directory and on one, distinct system. This restriction limits the company’s entry to Active Directory management tools and hinders its ability to install any third-party applications that leverage SharePoint’s highly effective features.Virtual Dedicated HostingMany organizations find that the ideal solution is to implement a virtual dedicated SharePoint hosting solution. This option offers the benefits of self-hosting or shared-hosting solutions while cutting out the drawbacks of each. Each consumer connects to a virtual dedicated server with SQL and SharePoint, with access to Active Directory management equipment and ability to integrate their local Active Directory and Exchange employing a Virtual Private Network connection. Alternatively, the business can integrate an Exchange solution at the hosting company.Fundamentally, the look and feel is comparable to a company hosting its own SharePoint solution, providing the desired functionality and versatility while minimizing 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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