Collaboration is the key to business success, and there’s no better platform that can facilitate that than Microsoft SharePoint. For those who don’t know; SharePoint is a platform that functions as a website creator, workflow designer, document management system, business analytics solution, and more. In other words, it’s an application that hosts dozens of solutions — like a multi-purpose IT tool.
Over the years, Microsoft has further expanded the capabilities of SharePoint and released new versions to meet the collaboration needs and IT budget of businesses large and small.
One such version is SharePoint Foundation 2013 Service Pack 1; a free online platform with basic SharePoint features. For instance, companies can design their own internal websites where employees can store and retrieve files from a single location, or build public-facing websites that allow clients to interact with a company.
For nearly four years, small- and medium-sized organisations have gained a lot from this free platform; but, unfortunately, mainstream support for SharePoint Foundation 2013 Service Pack 1 ends on April 10, 2018. And if your business is still using this version, there are a few things you need to consider.
All good things come to an end
For every SharePoint product launch, Microsoft has provided up to five years of mainstream support, including:
- Security patches – To protect SharePoint sites from web-based attacks, troubleshoot software bugs, and defend the Microsoft database from breaches.
- Design change requests – Microsoft accepts customer feedback to improve the SharePoint user experience.
- Feature updates – New service packs and public updates are released routinely to add new SharePoint capabilities.
- Complimentary incident support – Calls made to Microsoft’s maintenance team are free of charge.
But after April of next year, support calls for SharePoint Foundation 2013 Service Pack 1 will no longer be free regardless of the issue, which means any future problems that arise thereafter will cost a considerable amount of time and money.
Limitations of SharePoint Foundation
The key selling point of SharePoint Foundation 2013 is that it’s free. The problem, however, is it offers only core features like document sharing, content management, and team site creation. Search capabilities are also limited to text within documents and can’t search across company webpages.
Missing from the free version are more complex functions like larger file storage, advanced site management, and folder sync. Business intelligence tools; which are offered in other SharePoint versions, are also absent from SharePoint Foundation 2013, meaning you won’t be able to make the most out of your collected data. So from a business standpoint; your organisation will be better off upgrading to a different, more robust platform.
To get the latest features and support from Microsoft, there are two upgrade routes you can take.
The first option is SharePoint 2016. This upgrade offers a wide range of features and is designed to work with your Office 365 platform. For one, a single search query from Office 365 pulls in results from your cloud database and on-premise SharePoint database. OneDrive for Business also has a default Site folder so you can easily navigate across different company websites; and access the content stored in each one.
What’s more, SharePoint 2016 has an improved compliance centre to manage document deletion, data security, and access control policies for your intranet sites.
Although there are plenty of new features to be excited about, SharePoint 2016 is hosted locally, meaning you have to purchase hardware, servers, individual software licenses, plus a professional IT team to maintain and upgrade your server, which is probably not the most financially feasible option for small- and medium-sized businesses.
The second — and most affordable — upgrade path is SharePoint Online. This SharePoint version is part of the Office 365 suite and is hosted by Microsoft partners. Since it’s all managed in the cloud; you instantly get the latest business intelligence, document management, and website management features that SharePoint 2016 provides, minus the expensive, on-premise costs. In fact, an Office 365 subscription with SharePoint Online costs $29.60 per user per month, while a standalone version can go for as low as $7 per user per month.
Time to upgrade
SharePoint Foundation 2013 Service Pack 1 has given many businesses a taste of SharePoint’s capabilities; but a free service can only get you so far. It’s time to move on and plan your migration to a full-featured solution.
If you’re deciding between SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2016; make sure to assess your company’s needs and budget. Ask yourself whether you can afford an on-premise deployment (SharePoint 2016) or prefer a cloud-based platform (SharePoint Online). Then, consult with a trusted managed services provider to finalise your decision and take your business to new heights.
SharePoint can be confusing for many business owners, largely because it’s a platform with many different functions. But when you meet with the SharePoint experts at Empower IT; you will easily understand how SharePoint applies to your company; and know which package is right for you. Contact our experts today to get started.