Home » SharePoint vs. SharePoint Online: A Full Comparison

SharePoint vs. SharePoint Online: A Full Comparison

by janeausten

In the cloud or better on-premises? Which SharePoint variant is more suitable for you? Our expert knows what is important in practice and has summarized the most important differences for you.

With SharePoint Online or Office 365 as Software as a Service (SaaS), you are relieved of some things that you previously had to control yourself in the on-premises version. So that you know exactly what these are and which variant is the most suitable for you, I will show you the differences in operation using eight points of comparison:

1. Scope of Functions – Mobile First, Cloud First

Microsoft has been following the “Mobile First, Cloud First” strategy for some time. In connection with SharePoint, this means that new functions are implemented first for the online version and are only available for on-premise installations at a later point in time.

The most striking innovation in recent times is certainly the so-called “modern sites”. A complete redesign of the SharePoint interface was carried out. This redesign is fully responsive from the start (i.e. best suited for viewing on mobile devices) and also offers a new development approach for extensions called “SharePoint Framework”.

This new approach will be further expanded and new “community sites” with a modern look and feel will be available soon. Also, take a look at the “SharePoint Virtual Summit” from May 2017.

We assume that these modern sites will also be ported to SharePoint On-Premise, but not until much later. Based on this example, you can already see where the journey is going. Initially, new, modern tools were only available from the cloud. It can be assumed that certain tools are only available in the cloud.

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2. Modern Collaboration Tools

In recent years, Microsoft has been working intensively on the complete Office 365 suite. Modern tools are already available to you online to increase your productivity. The integration of Microsoft PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, and, among other things, Azure Functions with SharePoint Online offers completely new possibilities for using SharePoint content and processes. Insightful webinars are also available to take a closer look at these tools.

The consideration that you have to make yourself: How would my employees like to work? How do they work today and what do they expect from a modern platform? In my opinion, if you are confronted with requirements such as mobile access or even mobile collaboration, you cannot avoid Office 365 or SharePoint Online.

Of course, the hybrid working option is one that will appeal to some of you. You can therefore have your data in your data center and at the same time use the advantages of SharePoint Online.

3. Updates

With the on-premises version of SharePoint, it is your job to carry out and manage the updates yourself. In contrast, with SharePoint Online, Microsoft handles the management, installation, and deployment of the updates.

4. Availability

In your data center, you ensure that availability is guaranteed. With Office 365, on the other hand, Microsoft guarantees 99.5 % availability of the services with an SLA (this includes Exchange and SharePoint).

5. Backups

In SharePoint Online, Microsoft itself regularly creates backups of the entire farm. Apart from that, they ensure the redundancy of the systems so that all services remain available even if certain components in the data center fail.

In your own data center, however, you must ensure that regular backups are created and then tested.

6. Connection of External Users

If you use SharePoint on-premises, you have to create infrastructure to connect external users (quite a bit!). On top of that, you won’t be able to avoid setting up security features (such as login and multi-factor authentication) yourself.

The connection of external users is already included in SharePoint Online, which can be easily expanded with various Azure services so that you can implement functions such as two-factor authentication relatively easily.

7. Scaling

Bottlenecks, such as database queries that are too slow, must be recognized and eliminated in the SharePoint on-premises variant, whereas with Office 365 Microsoft takes on the scaling.

8. Management

Of course, you can do whatever you want on your own farm. The central administration and the PowerShell are available to you as a local administrator or farm administrator. With SharePoint Online, you are moving to a farm that is client-separated but still contains several clients. For this reason, you do not have access to the SharePoint farm-level here, but only to your client level. The whole thing is mapped via the SharePoint admin center.

However, you have the option of loading various Power Shell cmdlets with which you can automate administrative tasks in SharePoint Online. These PowerShell commands run from your own infrastructure and connect accordingly to SharePoint Online or Office 365.

Certain services that would traditionally be available in your central administration (such as the Business Connectivity Service and metadata management) can still be found in SharePoint Online. Here, too, Microsoft has followed up and made the whole thing multi-client capable for the SharePoint online version.

SharePoint On-Premises and Online in Comparison: An Overview

 SharePoint On-Premises                    SharePoint Online
Range Of FunctionsNew tools will be available later.Posted online by MS first
Modern Collaboration ToolsYou are responsible for the implementation.Microsoft works intensively on these tools.
UpdatesSelf-managed and installed.Managed and installed by MS.
AvailabilityThey ensure availability.SLA with 99.9% availability.
BackupYou must create backups.Backups and redundancy are ensured by Microsoft.
Connection Of External UsersThe infrastructure is required on your side.Already included.
ScalingBottleneck detection and remediation on your end.Scaling is done by MS.
ManagementCentral Administration and PowerShell.SP Admin Center and PowerShell.

My Recommendation

With Office 365, Microsoft gives you the opportunity to quickly make all essential products available for your company – and more. It relieves your IT department in the long term and, as a rental model, protects your business account in the long term. Your employees have the opportunity to use the Office products on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops without incurring any additional costs.

When Is SharePoint Online Worth It?

If you want to be able to work quickly: setting up an Office 365 account normally only takes a few minutes, SharePoint will be available to you in no time at all.

  • If you want to reduce the costs of your own infrastructure.
  • If you want to work together with external employees, partners, or customers.
  • If you want to use the new technologies like Office Delve and Sway.
  • If you want to give your employees state-of-the-artwork tools for mobile use.

When Is SharePoint On-Premises Worthwhile?

  • If you already have your own infrastructure for SharePoint in-house.
  • If you have already integrated external employees and customers into your infrastructure.
  • If you need so-called “farm solutions”, i.e. special programs that penetrate deeply into the system.
  • If you are obliged to do so for data protection reasons.
  • If you only have a low-bandwidth connection to the Internet.

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