We continue our look at the different options you need to weigh before deploying SharePoint in the Cloud. Today’s topic, the hosting model, isn’t an easy one. There are different hosting models – multi-tenant, semi-private and private—and each one will result in very different experience for an in-house IT team. Here’s an overview of what you should consider when planning your SharePoint deployment hosting category.
Commuting by train or leasing a car?
A multi-tenant hosted model is like taking a commuter train to work. You share the medium with other passengers: Everyone shares the cost of the train’s maintenance, the driver’s salary, etc. And everyone gets the same service. Multi-tenant hosting is the same: one SharePoint application is installed on a server farm, and all business share the same SharePoint instance. The provider then creates dedicated sites (site collections) for each customer. This shared environment usually results in a lower cost, but because you’re all sharing the same medium, you can’t make changes like adding customized apps that have been developed for your business, because this would affect all the other sites.
A multi-tenant model is exactly what you get with Office 365 by Microsoft. If you require dedicated servers, you’ll have to look for other providers, like SherWeb, that offer private cloud hosting.
On the other side of the hosting spectrum is private cloud hosting (also known as dedicated hosting). Keeping with the transport metaphor, this type of hosting is like renting a new car. You can go wherever you want with it, leave when you’re ready, travel at your speed and even make detours if needed. You also always have the car of the year. With private hosting, the provider installs your SharePoint application on a server farm that’s used only by you; the provider will also apply the most recent updates as they’re released. The SQL servers and Active Directory tied to your SharePoint application are also yours. This means you have complete control over the development of your SharePoint experience.
Between these two models is semi-private hosting. Just like with private hosting, you get your own SharePoint instance that’s installed and configured on your own dedicated environment. The Active Directory is yours as well. The only thing you share with other organizations is the SQL server. If you don’t need to have control over this server, semi-private hosting can be a good compromise between lowest cost and full control.
Evaluating the model that fits your IT department
To clearly identify which hosting model will suit the needs of your IT pros, you have to look at your current and future needs of 4 key elements. Keep in mind that you should plan not just for your current situation, but also ahead to accommodate your organization’s growth and development in the months and years to come.
1. Development and/or customization capabilities. Will your in-house team of developers be building applications to integrate with your SharePoint sites? What amount of application customization will your IT team need? If you want to build full-trust solutions, you’ll need a dedicated server to deploy code to the SP servers.
2. 3rd party application deployment. Individuals and organizations specializing in SharePoint develop business applications using the collaborative platform in the Cloud. These applications are compatible with certain versions of SharePoint. Evaluate them and check their compatibility requirements before choosing your SharePoint hosting model. For example, if one application requires access to the SQL server, you would need to deploy SharePoint in a private hosting model. This is particularly true for claim-based authentication support.
3. Integration with an in-house environment. If your business is also running certain applications in an on-premise environment, will it need to integrate with your SharePoint sites? The dependencies between your Cloud and in-house infrastructure will also determine which hosting model will make the right fit. In-house integration is key for business intelligence features like Performance Point Services, Scorecards & Dashboards, SQL Server Reporting Services, etc.
4. Specific backup requirements. What is the frequency of your SharePoint backups? How long should backups be kept? These requirements might be regulated under certain laws; if so, you might need to customize the backup process of your SharePoint sites. These elements also have to be taken into account.
You can also leverage your hosting provider’s knowledge to help you identify the right hosting model. It’s also worth mentioning that the model you choose will greatly impact your contract. An SLA in a multi-tenant environment doesn’t have the same guarantee as a private hosting model.
To learn more about the different options in hosting SharePoint, contact our sales team at 1-888-567-6610 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read part 1 of this series, click here.