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Staving off sluggishness with SharePoint in the cloud

SharePoint in the cloud can be low-cost and provide ease of access to content, but performance can grind to a halt if users insist on customization.

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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Great point made that in house staff doesn't know when changes are going to be made, and how it could impact productivity or even cause major issues.
Great article. Also, good points. Although not all "SharePoint intranets" are created equal. Here at ElevatePoint, when we provide SharePoint intranets we always recommend services that include intranet governance, change management and more to increase adoption, usage and trust in the intranet. In addition, we deliver standards to clients if those standards don't exist. Our information architecture is created by gathering people together and helping determine them. (We also come with recommendations, but realize every organization is different.) 

SharePoint has some other drawbacks, which our intranet platform makes up for. SharePoint may not be easy for people to update and maintain, but our platform has drag-and-drop web blocks for easy page creation. More, our intranet is mobile-friendly intranet for remote workers to use. It has more than the standard collaboration, with threaded discussions to keep track of the conversations. It also has robust communications analytics.