Essential Guide

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SharePoint 2013 overview: Ready for mobile and social?

SharePoint 2013 has been modernized to accommodate trends like mobility, social media and cloud computing. But licensing and other facets of the upgrade could pose pitfalls.

While SharePoint is a document management and team collaboration tool, SharePoint 2010 was ragged around the edges when it comes to many trends that define collaboration in the modern era: cloud, enterprise social networking, even e-discovery.

In a recent report on SharePoint, research firm Forrester Research Inc. noted the upsides and downsides. "While SharePoint has excelled as a system of record for storing and managing documents," wrote Rob Koplowitz, Peter Burris and Nancy Wang, "the user experience has been less than satisfying."

But the SharePoint 2013 release has made strides in usability and in modernizing the application for social, mobile and cloud capabilities. Microsoft has beefed up SharePoint's team collaboration and project management through features like Community Sites, microblogging, and social feeds to view and edit documents on a mobile device as well as store documents for offline use in SkyDrive. SharePoint Online also features Yammer, the social media platform. And new mobility capabilities enable users to access and edit documents more easily.

Capabilities like e-discovery have also matured. Better integration among SharePoint 2013 and Exchange Server and Lync programs means that SharePoint could reduce the time-sink of gathering data for litigation as well as potentially thousands of dollars.

SharePoint 2013's integration with Yammer, which Microsoft acquired in mid-2012 for $1.2 billion, signals a mixed picture. The goal is to incorporate some enterprise social networking features that have been sorely lacking in previous iterations, but there are shortcomings to note.

Yammer integration applies only to SharePoint in the cloud (as part of Office 365), but not to SharePoint on-premises. Organizations that can't have any data in the cloud can run SharePoint on-premises and Yammer in the cloud, but they can't integrate the two on-premises. SharePoint on-premises features some native social capabilities, and enterprises can go this route if they cannot opt for the cloud.

The same holds true for certain mobility-based enhancements to SharePoint. While previous iterations of SharePoint delivered a poor mobile experience for users, SharePoint 2013 is vastly improved and has the potential to boost worker productivity.

SharePoint 2013 features capabilities such as user-friendly document access and online editing. But, again, many of these features require an Office 365 license.

In our SharePoint 2013 overview, find out how it has made strides in modernizing the application for team collaboration and communication as well as mobility and cloud-based scenarios. But licensing issues will really determine whether users can take advantage of some of these features. Migration challenges may also be an issue for shops that aren't already on SharePoint 2010. Leapfrogging from an earlier version like SharePoint 2003 or 2007 requires upgrading to SharePoint 2010, then migrating to SharePoint 2013.

Administration

1. SharePoint 2013 Administration

SharePoint 2013 includes various new features that affect functionality. This section on SharePoint administration walks you through some of those changes and discusses administrative issues such as SharePoint upgrades, SharePoint lists, working with Microsoft Exchange mailboxes and SharePoint backup using PowerShell.

Management

2. SharePoint 2013 Management

If you're not a SharePoint administrator but need to understand some of the functionality changes to SharePoint 2013, this section of our SharePoint 2013 guide explains how changes affect licensing, SharePoint in the cloud and SharePoint information governance.

Trends

3. Trends in SharePoint 2013

If you're an IT manager or CIO scouting for some of the latest SharePoint technology trends, this SharePoint 2013 overview section explains the shifts. From the changes to SharePoint for mobile to news and trends from SPTechCon 2013, we highlight changes and trends in the SharePoint environment.