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SharePoint Online vs. SharePoint Server

SharePoint Online vs. SharePoint Server

Many organizations rely on SharePoint to manage their data and information, and many more are considering taking the leap. But with the two options available, SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online, which will work better for your business?

SharePoint Server vs. SharePoint Online

SharePoint Server is a locally-hosted platform that your company owns and operates. You’ll be responsible for everything from server architecture, active directory, all the way down to file storage. SharePoint Online is a cloud-based service provided directly from Microsoft. They take care of the identity management and architecture, you tell them how many sites to create and what to call them. Both platforms come with their own sets of benefits and challenges. Depending on the size of your company, one may outweigh the other. We’ve listed a few of the biggest differences below.


With a hosted solution like SharePoint Online, your business won’t have to worry about servers, architecture, or resource management. You’ll benefit from industry standard security features and single sign-on. You can also opt to integrate SharePoint with the entire suite of Office products, including Exchange, Word, and Excel, furthering the seamless connection between program and solution. Licenses are charged per user, so you’ll only pay for the users you need.

The biggest drawback of SharePoint online is the lack of autonomy over your data and architecture. While SharePoint online offers a wide variety of integrations, many legacy systems on homegrown servers might not be able to integrate. As well, some organizations chafe at the idea of someone elsehousing their data in a data center around the world.

New Features

One of the main benefits of using SharePoint Online is your business will get the latest and greatest updates from Microsoft, including features of SharePoint Server 2019. This, of course, can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes, new features can break existing customizations without warning. But with a self-hosted solution, you might not get the benefit of new integrations until much later.

While SharePoint 2019 is being rolled out in the latter half of 2018, some of the features of the new system will already be available in SharePoint Online. Therefore, upgrades to get new features won’t require migration of information.

Which is Better? 

There is no simple answer to this. For most small businesses who need limited features like document management, some customizations, and integration with Outlook and other programs, SharePoint Online is the perfect solution. For larger companies who rely on powerful custom applications and who’ve invested heavily in SharePoint servers and IT staff, moving to the Online solution isn’t in their best interest.

A software consulting firm like eSoftware can help you navigate your organization’s requirements and know which program will work better for you. Contact us today to find out more about SharePoint Server, SharePoint Online, and how the platform can work better for you.

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