What's Your SharePoint Flavor: IaaS or Managed Service?

What's Your SharePoint Flavor: IaaS or Managed Service?

by Jeremy Thake

SharePoint and the cloud will be growing together in 2013, and you don’t want to get left on the ground. In this second part of a series, let’s look at some cloud options. If you missed part one of this article, you can read it here.

Infrastructure as a Service

For those who still want full control over their servers, but don’t want to manage the hardware, storage, and networking, IaaS might be your SharePoint solution. As with SaaS, you are responsible for administrating all of your SharePoint content, but IaaS offerings such as Windows Azure also allow for full control of your servers, as if they were on-premises within your walls, rather than being run through virtual machines (VMs).

The advantages of deploying SharePoint in the cloud as IaaS are countless. Without infrastructure to look after, IT teams can focus more on innovation in applications and solutions to their SharePoint. IaaS also follows a utility service model, or pay-per-use, enabling greater flexibility and enhanced scalability.

On the budget side, IaaS will decrease your total cost of ownership of SharePoint, because you aren’t buying the large pieces of equipment to maintain it. You will go from a capital expense to an operational expense, with a reduction in other costs relating to maintenance and support.

Just because your infrastructure is now out of house doesn't mean that your IT team is free and clear, however. IaaS still leaves you with the responsibility for maintaining and monitoring your own SharePoint operations, meaning your IT team is tasked with patching from the OS all the way up to SharePoint.

The responsibility for upkeep of hardware is gone, but all SharePoint related tasks will remain in-house.

Managed Service

Managed Service offerings, such as Office 365 Dedicated and Rackspace, will take care of everything involved in your SharePoint deployment, but you're still responsible for your own content. With Managed Services, the provider builds and maintains your data center, the network, and the OS, while also providing recovery services in the event something happens to your SharePoint.

This is a great option for organizations looking to outsource the entirety of their SharePoint and infrastructure management, while maintaining control over the content.

Like SaaS, Managed Service can also have restrictions involving Full Trust Solutions, so full customization of SharePoint can be difficult. Some offerings also are multi-tenant, which can provide a lower cost, but also brings negatives like lack of flexibility regarding customizations and a risk of data leaks due to the shared nature of the service.

What’s Right for You?

With all of the options available for SharePoint deployment into the cloud, the decision most organizations face is based off of which responsibilities they want to keep, and which they want to outsource. Each option will take away some of the IT resource time needed to focus on things like managing the network, hardware, installs, and patching, but no matter what route you take, SharePoint administration and management of site collections will always remain an in-house responsibility.

While there are pros and cons for each model, and plenty of discussions to be had, the question to be answered about your SharePoint environment moving to the cloud shouldn’t be so much of an “if” as a “when.”

Jeremy Thake joined AvePoint in 2011 as Enterprise Architect, and was later named Chief Architect in June of 2012. He was named a Microsoft SharePoint MVP in 2009, and continues to work directly with enterprise customers and AvePoint’s research and development team to develop solutions that will set the standard for the next generation of collaboration platforms, including Microsoft SharePoint 2013. He is now employed at Microsoft.

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