SharePoint Online, the cloud-based version of the content management system from Microsoft, is one of the fastest-growing in Microsoft history. SharePoint in the cloud -- part of the Office 365 suite -- can help companies of all sizes manage content because of its low cost and ease of access.
But despite these conveniences, SharePoint Online has challenges. Microsoft Azure, the cloud platform where companies can host and manage SharePoint, already hosts many thousands of SharePoint instances, so maintaining efficiency can be difficult. Poor content management standards in a SharePoint Online implementation can lead to poor performance.
According to Scott Robinson, SharePoint consultant and expert, this has been one of the central hurdles for SharePoint online adoption. Performance and latency are sometimes problematic, and customization is far more difficult, because SharePoint administrators no longer have access to the server side. "I have no way of knowing when [Microsoft] is going to roll out new updates and patches, any one of which could clobber my SharePoint deployment," Robinson said. "So there are a lot of challenges. But they're basically based on the fact that it's a crowded environment up there in the Azure cloud, and Microsoft has a tough time keeping it efficient. It really presents some challenges."
One of the central ways to stave off performance problems with SharePoint in the cloud is to insist on standardization and a common set of best practices among users.
"To make [SharePoint] work well, I need an awful lot of alignment among the stakeholders in terms of abiding by the standards that will make it efficient," Robinson said. "That's a challenge most of the time -- to get everyone on the same page. When we're talking SP online, we really have to keep a close eye on content management standards. Otherwise the system will be slow. A commitment to shared standards is the key to success.
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