Posts Tagged ‘Windows Azure Platform’

Windows Azure Platform is becoming the hottest topics among many new technologies. Cloud computing has the potential to show people what the future IT world may look like in the near future.  This could be the start of an IT revolution. In the future, imagine that we will have most of the social/public facing RESTful Services/Web applications online – it becomes easier to build, access and consume this reliable and rich information. This is the next move for lots of Web services and applications we are using now.

So what is the next move for SharePoint in the near future, after the release of SharePoint 2010 on May 12th? It’s all about the “blue sky”.  Much like Windows Azure is driving application development to the cloud, SharePoint Online is driving SharePoint adoption to the cloud .

It is here. It is happening. It is the future ….

Many people would ask: how far do we need to go from “Present” to the ”Future”? Cloud computing sounds too real to be true, it is not a real thing in our real life — “It looks like it is a fancy technology that will never happen to me, it is another version of ‘Internet of Things’“.

But it is here already — SharePoint Online has been announced for more than one year. We already started using the Azure technology in the real world. The current SharePoint Online is still limited with WSS3.0 functions on most of the part. After Microsoft started supporting multi-tenant features, some small and medium sized companies started looking into it and a few companies, like GlaxoSmithKline, started using it. These companies outsource IT services to Microsoft. With SharePoint’s multi-tenant version, it targets smaller customers. Since then, Microsoft has been adding tons of customers in the multi-tenant space. In 2010, we’ll see more functionality adding into the multi-tenant space.

In SharePoint 2010, development on-premise and online is the same – this is one of the most exciting improvements for SharePoint Online. You can write what is called sandboxed solutions. These solutions can run either on-premise or in the cloud – which makes it easier for customers to either run in hybrid environments (where they have part of their solution on-premise and part of their solution online) or to make the move to all online. At the same time, Microsoft is investing in the platform in the cloud. Later on, you can use SharePoint not just as the application, but also write to the platform called SharePoint inside the cloud – exactly like the Windows Azure Platform we can use today, and we can call it “SharePoint Azure Platform”

Benefit to use SharePoint online: — enhanced SharePoint server system integration and configuration

  • You can get it up and running quickly, and integrate it with Exchange service, Office Online, emails, etc. You still need to use your own source to do administration, but system integration and  configuration are being taken care of.
  • Latest software upgrade/patches, server upgrades, etc. These server side issues will be automatically handled by Microsoft

What will be improved in SharePoint Online 2010: (which is planed to be released this Summer)

  • Storage – The currently version is limited to 20 Site Collections per account; SharePoint Online 2010 allows unlimited site collections.
  • Feature Functionality – Currently Microsoft Online does not offer all feature functionality (for instance: InfoPath is not available now).  All SharePoint 2010 feature functionality is envisioned as being available on SharePoint Online Services 2010.

     EXCEPT for the following features, which requires an on-premise installation:

  • FAST Search Functionality — which is a very powerful feature for SharePoint server 2010 with FAST service
  • PerformancePoint Services — this is a big lose for SharePoint online 2010
  • Microsoft Information Rights Management — need to install extra services
  • Site Variation — need to install language package on server side
  • Content Staging and Deployment – limited for SharePoint Publishing feature?
  • Business Data Search — cannot include Business data into Search scope for online version

Identity and Access for SharePoint Online Services 2010

In the current version of SharePoint Online, the client must install a package to use Microsoft Online services for access and identity. In SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Online Services will have two choices for identity and access: Managed Identities in Microsoft Online, or use Federated identity against the client’s on-premise Active Directory. This makes the authentication more customizable.

In SharePoint Online 2010, you will see it looks like an on-premise SharePoint Server 2010 with following features:

  • Rich in browser page design, with server side Ribbon, of course.
  • Office Web Apps (view and edit documents on the web page, without having the client application installed on the desktop), and can use an iPhone for reading Microsoft Office files.
  • MySite and Social Computing – this enhances searching and social networking on SharePoint
  • Seamless Office Client application support – you can use Office application to integrate BCS and synchronize Office applications to edit data from Sharepoint content database or external data sources.
  • Excel Services for data driven pages – all should be working on the site page, no need to install an excel tool on local client machine.
  • Fully customize sites using SharePoint Designer (custom page updates and workflow built in) — This is Big! Shaerpoint designer is a much, much more powerful tool than ever, it can do most of the customization work like creating a workflow, creating BCS, creating content types, adding customized views, etc.

So with SharePoint Online 2010, many more small and mid-sized companies can choose SharePoint as a internet facing web page, or as their intranet site, without taking care of SharePoint integration and configuration complexity. SharePoint Online is SharePoint in the cloud – are you ready?.


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