What is SharePoint and how it works

SharePoint is a software developed by Microsoft that operates similarly to Google Drive. However, the functions of SharePoint are more than that. The platform is meant to enhance communication and data exchange between team members in an institution.

The platform integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Office’s latest versions to provide the users with the best complete data sharing platform that they could ever think about. The platform was launched in 2001 primarily as a document storage and sharing system. However, the services offered by the platform have gone extensive modification over time to produce what is the present SharePoint.

According to the managing company of the software, Microsoft, the platform has gained extensive use with 200,000 primary organizations using its services.  In these organizations, over 190 million individuals are using the platform. Throughout the years, the server has undergone numerous modifications to produce what is today’s version.

From the conventional SharePoint Portal Server 2001 through SharePoint Server 2010 that featured the now nonexistent Foundation to the present SharePoint Server and Enterprise 2019, the application is continuing to be modified to fit into the ever-changing market demands.

Each version features new modifications that are meant to make it more unique from the previous one. As such the future of SharePoint is bright and Microsoft users should be on the lookout on the newest service on this platform.

The functions of SharePoint are varied depending on the particular edition that a company is subscribed to. The two major versions of the software include:

1.    SharePoint Server

As the name suggests, this edition features servers that are provided to organizations that seek to incorporate SharePoint in their operations. The unique feature about this edition is that it allows for the user with varied customization features to suit compatibility with the organization’s operations.

Unlike the other editions of SharePoint, this version is not synonymous with frequent updates. Instead, SharePoint Server emphasizes the provision of Cloud-based hosting services to the subscribers. SharePoint Server exists in two main sub-editions namely SharePoint Enterprise and SharePoint Standard. The free version, SharePoint Foundation was in use until 2016 when Microsoft removed its services.

a)    SharePoint Standard

This version is an improvement on the conventional Microsoft SharePoint Foundation. Some of the areas that SharePoint Standard provides an improvement on include:

•    Creation of more customized sites that target a specific audience and improved the functioning of the web analytics feature.

•    Creation of communities for an institution.

•    Improved content management through provision of updated systems in data compliance.

•    Improved and customized search results. The software minimizes the scope of search and focusses on what is crucial for the particular organization.

•    Provision of workflow templates to save time for an organization’s employees. With the templates, one only needs to input the data.

b)    SharePoint Enterprise

Users that have access to SharePoint Standard can also use the features provided by SharePoint Enterprise. This can be done by accessing the unlock key responsible for giving admittance to the use of the improved software. Its features include:

•    More customized search results than in SharePoint Standard

•    Provisions of user dashboards. Integrating business intelligence features is also enabled

•    Enables access to additional Microsoft features such as PerformancePoint and PowerPivot.

2.    SharePoint Online

Microsoft hosts this version of SharePoint. An individual or organization that subscribes to the Microsoft Office 365 can gain access to the services of SharePoint Online. However, an organization can also purchase it as a separate entity without access to Microsoft Office 365 features. The primary advantage of subscribing to this version is that the user organization doesn’t have to undergo through the hectic of searching for a host. Microsoft does the hosting work for the subscribers.

However, this also poses a disadvantage as the customization of an organization’s specific features is disabled. It is, therefore, suitable for a small company that doesn’t have immense data to store and send to its employees within the organization. Typically, SharePoint Online is designed for files hosting and content management on a small scale basis. Unlike the SharePoint Server, this version receives regular updates from Microsoft.

Uses of SharePoint

The applications of the services are varied from one organization to the other. However, a configuration is a must for most of the service to be activated. Some of the applications of SharePoint include the following:

1)    Content management

The platform enables the organization to store, retrieve, archive, track and manage their data. SharePoint ensures that these functions are executed within the legal means of the organization in question. With the appropriate setting, the organization can set the systems to ensure that they fit seamlessly to its processes. The application is also integrated with other significant Microsoft features such as Excel and Word. This enables real-time editing that is an important feature when handling an organization’s data.

2)    Intranet

SharePoint features an intranet portal that ensures that the internal communication within an organization can be conducted effectively. Through the intranet feature, transfer of crucial information in the company is transferred from one party to the other. The benefits of having a SharePoint Intranet feature include increased employee involvement and improving processes management. New staff onboarding is simplified as the employees are incorporated into the system and systematically shown how every process is carried out.

3)    Collaborative framework

Organizations require some activities to be conducted in a team. SharePoint ensures that this process is enhanced through the provision of project scheduling and shared mailboxes among other features. This ensures that everyone has access to data that is meant to be viewed by the entire team.

4)    File Hosting

Arguably one of the best features of SharePoint, the software enable the individual to create a storage and synchronization system for their data and documents.  OneDrive for Business is the service by SharePoint that is aimed at ensuring that the stored data can be shared from one party to the other. The software also enables integration with Microsoft Exchange to create a personal storage system that mimics that of cloud hosting.

SharePoint was initially built to compete with the other file storage and sharing platforms such as Google Drive. However, it has superseded the initial projections with its new and improved features.

The large number of organizations using the services totaling to 200,000 according to Microsoft testify to its increased use among firms. SharePoint Server 2019 has new features such as the ability to store larger files than ever.

It also has a provision of creating folders and naming them uniquely to simplify data access. Finally, SharePoint 2019 enables access to communication sites meaning that the users can share their data with other social networks.

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