SharePoint Decisions: To Host or Not to Host?

Clear your mental mystification of SharePoint hosting

As a SharePoint architect at, I hear questions all the time about hosting SharePoint in a private cloud vs. hosting SharePoint On Premise. Trust me, I completely understand the mental mystifications that you and your organization are going through when considering this.

Have you been scratching your head over the potential infrastructure investment that you’ll incur with your upcoming SharePoint Farm deployment? Are you feeling a sense of bewilderment over how you’ll have full control of your SharePoint environment if it’s not On-Premises? Or, perhaps you’re perplexed over how you’ll manage the around-the-clock IT support and overhead costs that come with the 24/7 monitoring and the recapitulation of OS upgrades and patches in your On Premise environment. Well, the good news is that you’re not alone.

These and many other factors are all very important to consider when making the decision to host on premise or to host in a SharePoint cloud. As Mark Miller, our Senior Storyteller and Community Advocate says, there is “the good, the bad, and the ugly” with any option. My intent is to make you aware of the various ways of implementing SharePoint. It’s not meant to be prescriptive or used as a roadmap, but more as a set of talking points around Hosted vs. On-Premises SharePoint.

Let’s break it down.

On-Premises Hosting: Internal Infrastructure and I.T. Management

The Good

  1. With SharePoint On-Premises you “own” the environment and its governance, customization, and federation strategy. You have absolute control of its servers, permissions\security, deployment, customization and policies, and federation between line-of-business systems, legacy system integration, and various data sources.
  2. On Premise hosting also means full control of Security Management. For larger businesses and organizations with highly sensitive data, keeping data warehouses On-Premises has been perceived to be the best (if not only) option.
  3. When your data is stored in-house on your own physical or virtual servers, you completely control the fate of the data. All documents are saved and treated in a local database, greatly enhances the data security, which is very important for many big companies. With full control, you can pull the outside plug anytime you want on your data being stored On-Premises while still being able to access it internally.

The Bad

  1. With your SharePoint hosting solution On-Premises, you’ll have to pay an I.T. staff 24/7 in order to maintain the infrastructure and make sure it stays up and running.
  2. With your applications On-Premises, maintenance can suddenly become a giant headache. Uninstalls, upgrades, or patches have to be managed by your in house IT staff -costing your organization time and money. You’re responsible for everything that happens to the system, and when your upgrades break, it’s up to you to put the pieces back together.
  3. Hardware upgrades occur over and over as well as maintaining the 24/7/365 IT staff. This is a continuous expenditure. Something to ponder… *Capital expenses may or may not have to be written off over the course of several years whereas an operational expense is written off immediately within that given year.

The Ugly

  1. A Microsoft SharePoint Server Farm Environment can have a hefty infrastructure investment. Microsoft SharePoint Server farms vary in size and complexity. Before you can deploy a farm, you must plan the solution that you want to deploy and determine the infrastructure requirements, such as server resources and farm topology. There can be large hardware investments required and even if you already have the hardware, you may have to upgrade from 32 bit servers to 64 bit servers.
  2. With the additional need for IT Staff to monitor and administer the SharePoint environment, IT Management Overhead is increased significantly.
  3. You may find your IT department losing focus working on IT issues instead of business issues. Monitoring and working on patching and upgrades on the OS, and infrastructure in general is not your organization’s core business. IT staff are not there to run SharePoint and the daunting Infrastructure maintenance may cause them to forget about it a lot of times.

On Premise hosting is good for having absolute control over data and the security of data. However, with SharePoint On-Premises, design, deployment, maintenance and upgrade overheads can potentially take your head and wallet for a spin!

SharePoint Cloud Hosting:

Your own dedicated Private SharePoint Cloud environment

The Good

  1. Hosting in your own Private SharePoint Cloud gives you 100% parity with an On-Premises solution. You have full RDP access to WFEs and Full SQL admin rights for customizations and development.
  2. SharePoint cloud hosting from a dedicated SharePoint hosting company that has deep expertise offers tremendous advantages- including deep access within the SharePoint community. They become your “SharePoint advocate” in the SharePoint community.
  3. The upfront investment is low – you don’t need to invest in software/hardware, and licensing and renewal costs are kept to a minimum. SharePoint hosting promises businesses a unique benefit of a lower total cost of ownership. With no servers to manage or product maintenance to perform, SharePoint hosting removes much of the headache for IT staff.

The Bad

  1. There is a perceived lack of security. Think of online banking and shopping; those are secure, right? Most security breaches are internal, not an external hack. While a SharePoint Cloud can offer a lot of security, organizations with highly sensitive data don’t get quite the same assurance that their information is safe. On the flip side, a lot of government sectors are now mandating that data goes into cloud.
  2. Generally, one of the biggest criticisms leveled against Cloud Computing is the reliance on third parties for the availability of applications. Paying close attention to each vendor’s support offerings and SLA in this instance is vital.
  3. Regulatory Compliances. The vendor must be committed to providing a SaaS that complies with the mandates, standards and acts set forth to regulate and protect the industries that host with us. Many of these standards require audits and reviews from outside parties to ensure the privacy and safety of your data. Basel I/II, DOD 5015.2, FCPA, FISMA, HIPPA, NASD 3010, OMB A-123, and SOX compliance are just a few your organization may be dealing with.

The Ugly

  1. The United States Patriot Act. Enough said. This is a problem with all vendors. The United States Government asserts the right to access any data stored by USA companies, even though the data may be stored off shore.
  2. Third Party access to your data is always a concern to any organization. There are options here and I recommend exploring them before making a commitment to any third party.
  3. Lastly, there is a perceived loss of control such as when an environment goes down, your organization has no control of when it goes back up. This is why a detailed and often financially backed SLA comes into play.

Hosting SharePoint in a private cloud saves money for medium to large size businesses on infrastructure and overhead, while adding SharePoint expertise to the platform.

Making a decision on whether to host On-Premises or in your own Private SharePoint cloud can cause some confusion. Just remember there are good, bad, and ugly parts to either way you choose to host your SharePoint environment. The correct solution solves a business need while minimizing the bad and the ugly. Now that you’re armed with information to help you make that critical yet educated decision on what is best for your organization, which will you choose?

2011-12-27T04:29:36+00:00 December 27th, 2011|

One Comment

  1. Jenkins NS February 7, 2012 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    Good article, now i am clear about sharepoint hosting, Thank you

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