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Hosted SharePoint: Benefits and How to Sign Up

As we explained in a previous article, Microsoft SharePoint is a server-based platform that most businesses use as a file storage system. Businesses can use it to store their files in a centralized way, which allows employees to find and access the files of their colleagues without having to ask for them, and makes it easier for businesses to back up and protect all of their files.

SharePoint also has enterprise social networking and project management features that can increase employees’ collaboration and productivity, as well as make it easier for supervisors to monitor and manage their workers.

SharePoint is better than the alternatives of file servers and online data storage services, as well as standalone enterprise social networking and project management software, because it has more advanced file storage, search, and data security features than any of them, and because it combines enterprise-level file storage and collaboration features into a single platform.

Now that you’re caught up on the basic features and benefits of SharePoint, in today’s article we’re going to explain why the best way for most businesses to deploy SharePoint is to pay an IT hosting company to host it for you.

As we mentioned in the previous article, the two main ways to deploy SharePoint are 1) to host it an onsite server and 2) to pay an IT hosting company to host it for you. To deploy it on an onsite server, you need to purchase at least one physical server and then install the SharePoint software on it. According to the Microsoft website, a single-server deployment of SharePoint 2013 requires a server with at least a quad-core, 64-bit processor, 8 GB RAM, and 80 GB hard disk space, with a 64-bit version of Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 or Windows Server 2012 running on it.

To pay an IT hosting company to host SharePoint for you, on the other hand, you need to contact an IT hosting company and let them know what you want them to host and how you want it to be hosted (HIPAA compliant, capable of supporting x number of users, etc.).

The hosting company will install and set up the SharePoint software on the IT hardware in one of its datacenters. Once it’s deployed, you’ll access your hosted SharePoint via the Internet with a web browser, and you’ll pay the hosting company a flat amount per user, per month for it to host the software for you.

If you have an existing onsite SharePoint implementation and want to transfer over any existing data or licenses over to the new deployment, you can do it yourself, or the hosting company can handle the migration process for you for a small fee.

The benefits of paying an IT hosting company to host SharePoint for you include:

It allows you to access SharePoint from anywhere. Hosted SharePoint can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, smartphone, or thin client. This allows employees to access from anywhere all of the files that they would normally only be able to access at the office, which can increase worker productivity. It also allows businesses to maintain a single, centralized repository of all of its files that everyone in the organization can access, regardless of location, which makes it easier for employees in different locations to collaborate with each other, as well as makes it easier to monitor, protect, and back up all of the company’s files. The anywhere-accessibility of SharePoint also makes it easier to provide individuals such as business or project partners and clients with limited access to your files, which may make more sense in some cases than emailing the files to them directly.

You don’t have to set it up or maintain its underlying hardware. With hosted SharePoint, most hosting companies will handle the setup process and maintain the deployment’s underlying hardware for you for a small fee. Some hosting providers, including Iron Orbit, will also manage your SharePoint deployment for you—monitoring it, protecting it from inappropriate access, updating it whenever patches or new versions are released, backing it up on a regular basis, and providing 24x7x365 technical support for it. By avoiding setting up, maintaining, and managing your SharePoint implementation yourself, you allow yourself (or your IT employees) to focus on more important tasks. Setting up and maintaining SharePoint can be difficult, especially when the deployment is large and needs to be scaled up across multiple physical servers, and is best performed by IT hosting professionals with a lot of experience at deploying the software.

It’s more secure. Hosted SharePoint is generally more secure than an in-house deployment of SharePoint because hosting companies can afford to protect their deployments with advanced security measures that the average business cannot afford, such as 24x7x365 monitoring and alarm response; enterprise-level firewalls, IDS/IPS, and antivirus; in-transit and at-rest encryption; and 24x7x365 security patrols, locked metal doors, server cages, and biometric access panels at their datacenters.

It’s more reliable. Similar to above, hosted SharePoint is generally more reliable than in-house deployments of SharePoint because hosting companies can afford to implement downtime prevention measures that the average business cannot, such as 24x7x365 monitoring and maintenance; redundant servers, networking equipment, Internet, and electrical power; RAID storage; uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and backup diesel generators; and geographically-separated datacenters.

It makes it easier to comply with regulations such as HIPAA, SOX, and PCI DSS. Hosted SharePoint usually makes it easier to comply with IT-related regulations such as HIPAA, SOX, and PCI DSS, since many hosted solutions come with security and data loss prevention features (firewalls, antivirus, encryption, backups, etc.) that satisfy many of these regulations’ requirements with no further adjustments needed. In addition, many hosting companies offer compliance hosting services, in which they’ll customize their hosted solutions so that they fully comply with certain regulations.

To sign up for hosted SharePoint, simply contact your preferred hosting company.