Microsoft Power Apps, SharePoint, & Microsoft 365 Consulting Company

The Many Versions of SharePoint

SharePoint’s use in website creation is no secret. It can be a secure place for you to store, organize, share, and access website information on any device – but just saying “SharePoint” can refer to more than one product or technology.

So, what is different from version to version? Should you use on-premises or Online? Let’s take a look at what each version offers:

SharePoint Online

For businesses of all sizes, SharePoint Online is a cloud-based service hosted by Microsoft. Since it doesn’t need on-premises installation and deployment of SharePoint Server, any business can use SharePoint Online through an Office 365 plan – and if you don’t need everything else the Office 365 subscription provides, a standalone SharePoint Online service is also available.

In terms of pricing, you can get the SharePoint Online Plan 1 for as little as $5 per user/month, and it comes with 1TB of cloud storage per user via OneDrive. For more features (such as customization, advanced DLP capabilities, etc.) you have Plan 2, which costs $10 per user/month, and gives you unlimited cloud storage in OneDrive.

If you also need Office Applications such as Word and Excel, there’s a Plan 3, which costs $20 per user/month and requires an annual commitment, but it has every feature of the other plans, as well as email hosting, Microsoft Teams, 24/7 customer support, FastTrack development support, and other features.

It should also be noted that the Office 365 Premium Subscription for Businesses (which costs $12.50 per user/month) also comes with SharePoint Server, and will also give you Office Applications. So, if you don’t need the perks of Plan 2 and Plan 3 and want those Office Apps along with SharePoint Online, this might be a good choice to consider.

SharePoint Foundation

Although SharePoint Foundation has been discontinued and future versions will not be available separately, you can still download and use the 2013 version. As the technology behind all SharePoint sites, SharePoint Foundation offers completely free on-premises deployment, and you can still use it to create sites where you can collaborate on pages, documents, lists, calendars, and data.

SharePoint Server

If your organization needs SharePoint on-premises, SharePoint Server is the way to go, as it includes all the features of the SharePoint Foundation. It also offers more features and capabilities, such as Enterprise Content Management, business intelligence, enterprise search, personal sites, and Newsfeed.

In terms of pricing, you will need to contact Microsoft (or another partner such as us at ESW) to give you a quote. There are three aspects to take into account when asking for a license: what capabilities you’ll need, how you want to deploy SharePoint, and where you’ll host the system. To know the full terms and conditions, you can look at Microsoft’s Product Terms, but we’ll summarize it below for you.

If you’re considering this route, it’s relevant to state that you will need a license for each running instance of SharePoint Server, along with a Client Access License (CAL) for every person or device that has access to the SharePoint Server.

A Standard CAL will get you the core capabilities of SharePoint:

  • Sites – a single infrastructure for all your business websites
  • Communities – an integrated collaboration platform
  • Content – enterprise content management (ECM) for the masses
  • Search – people and expertise search, visual previews, visual best bets

For the full capabilities of SharePoint, you will need an Enterprise CAL. This includes:

  • Sites – a single infrastructure for all your business websites
  • Communities – an integrated collaboration platform
  • Content – ECM for the masses
  • Search – standard search features plus entity extraction, video search, and item recommendations
  • Business solutions (includes Access Services and InfoPath Services)
  • Business Intelligence for everyone (includes Power View, PerformancePoint Services, Excel Services, and Visio Services)

Microsoft is also planning a new release for SharePoint Server. We’ve covered what we know about the 2019 upgrade in a previous post. If you’re considering SharePoint Server for your on-premises needs, you might want to take a look at the many improvements Microsoft will offer in the new installation!

SharePoint Designer

A free program, SharePoint Designer 2013 can be used to build great workflow-enabled solutions, as well as edit external content types for an external data solution that’s based on Business Connectivity Services. SharePoint Designer 2013, however, is being phased out at the moment, and Microsoft is looking to replace it with Flow, which also has a free plan. Flow also comes with most Office 365 Subscriptions, so if you’re already in one, Flow will probably be much more attractive than SharePoint Designer.

Still, Designer is a good tool (and free!), so if your budget is tight and you need more than what Flow’s free plan provides, SharePoint Designer will serve you well.

Last Thoughts

The above are all the instances someone can be referring to when they say “SharePoint.” Online, Server (or on-premises), Designer, or Foundation. One could be using a number of them together, or just the one. It’s a bit of SharePoint spaghetti, and we hope this article untangled it for you!

If you’re considering Microsoft Solutions for your business, we here at ESW are always available to help!