Following the official launch of Microsoft Office 365 in the summer of 2011, the subsequent two years and more interestingly in the last three months we have seen a demonstrable surge in the awareness of SharePoint within the SMB markets. Businesses are waking up to the fact that SharePoint is far more than a document management and intranet collaboration tool.

The rise in profile of SharePoint is largely due to the fact that it comes bundled with Office 365 along with a suite of Microsoft products that are already ‘household names’ for both business and home users. So we are finding that SMBs are more aware of SharePoint, but they still don’t fully understand its rich capabilities, as their experiences are largely limited to the aforementioned.

The truth is that SharePoint as part of the Office 365 environment can offer the traditional collaboration solutions, it can also be used to deliver key business process applications around Quality Health & Safety, HR and Learning Management to name a few. It’s essential however to consider your key drivers for using SharePoint before embarking on the 365 cloud option, as there are a number of challenges and limitations that may not prove to be a good fit for your business.

Office 365 also comes in a number of Business and Enterprise level pricing plans, each providing associated SharePoint capabilities which need to be aligned with your longer term SharePoint strategy. Bespoke SharePoint development can be tricky in the hosted environment and limited in some circumstances.

Businesses are also considering a combination of 365 and on-premise deployment options, which by the very nature provide a hybrid alternative that allows for the convenience of the cloud, coupled with the flexibility of on-premise. This option is proving popular where significant SharePoint development work is required.

Office 365 Includes

• Microsoft Office Suite
• SharePoint Online
• Exchange Online
• Lync Online

Office 365 Plans include

• Small Business
• Enterprise
• Education