SharePoint LogoFuse have been supporting and developing on Microsoft SharePoint since it was introduced as a 2001 Beta product over 15 years ago.

Here we explain the licensing and features of the current version, with our SharePoint experience on the previous versions.

SharePoint Platform

The SharePoint platform has used a common architecture since SharePoint 2003, where a set of SQL databases (configuration, services and content) provide data to a set of service processes running on front end servers. These deliver content to web clients, through a web browser, but also through tightly integrated Office applications, and increasingly, the Windows operating system. The base platform provides authentication, workflow, content, search and data processing services. APIs and service endpoints allow the platform to be extended through development, while the interface look and feel can be customised through common web development tools. 

SharePoint 2016

SharePoint 2016 is the current version of SharePoint and is available for on-premise installations, as a hosted service, or as software as a service (SaaS) through Microsoft's Office 365 platform. It builds on the technologies and interfaces of SharePoint 2013, providing more flexible deployment options and improving SQL performance.

Three editions are available, with various additional products requiring additive licenses.

SharePoint Foundation is the "Free" version of the platform that underpins the licensed products. It allows for basic collaboration, search and data storage. It requires SQL server, but can be run on SQL Server Express, within the limitations of that edition. Given the Office 365 version of SharePoint has more features, there are now few scenarios where Foundation alone is required.

SharePoint standard builds on SharePoint foundation by adding features to various product areas, including:

  • Sites and communities, governance tools and analytics.
  • Personal and social features, tagging, organisation hierarchy and user profiles.
  • Enhanced document management features, such as managed metadata, record management and content type management.
  • Search across different sources, improved search results and customisation, search refiners
  • Business services for improved integration with other systems, enhanced workflows, prebuilt workflows
These features and more enable SharePoint standard to function out of the box as a powerful collaboration and data management tool for most organisations, provided it is deployed and configured correctly.

 

SharePoint standard requires a server licence for each server in the farm, plus a client licence for each internal user (external users do not requires licences). The client licences are available as part Core CAL suite.

The Enterprise edition includes a number of specialist services for larger organisations, as well as features that improve the platform as a web (public facing) content management platform:

  • Services for Access, Excel, InfoPath and Visio
  • Enhancements to Business Connectivity Services, for connections to other LOB applications and services
  • Enhancements to search, including video search
  • WCM features, such as catalogues, categories, search driven pages, image renditions and cross-site publishing
  • BI, analytics, reporting and data processing features
The enterprise licence is aimed at larger organisations, or those that require public-facing websites. For organisations where single departments require access to the enterprise features, it is now possible to licence those users within a single farm, whilst the majority remain with a standard licence.

 

The enterprise licence is additive to the Standard licence (Each enterprise use must also have a standard licence) and is part of the Enterprise CAL suite.

The following products complement SharePoint and integrate with it:

  • SQL Server: Essential as part of the farm installation, SQL must also be licenced (generally with a core licence). The SharePoint integrated reporting services and PowerPivot enhance how SQL can be used.
  • Office Web Apps: Cross-browser versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that improve collaboration and decrease the need to deploy Office to the desktop.
  • Project Server: Enterprise version of Project, allows collaboration across multiple projects, integration with Exchange and SharePoint for document and task management, and a central resources pool. Can be licensed in the same way as SharePoint Enterprise, i.e. to a subset of users.
  • Office 2016: Office 2016 is integrated with SharePoint, providing a single interface for workflow, metadata and version control.
  • OneDrive for Business: This enables SharePoint document libraries to function as part of Windows Explorer, effectively becoming local storage and available offline, while at the same time enabling documents to be easily shared with others. An effective replacement for home drives, and other cloud storage providers, such as Dropbox.
  • Skype for Business: SharePoint recognises person names within pages as Skype contacts and displays presence and contact information in the same way all Office products do. Particularly helpful in the user profile pages and people search results. See our Skype pages for more details.
  • System Center: Useful for monitoring, deploying, maintaining and backing up SharePoint, particularly in large scale environments or remote (hosted/hybrid cloud) installations.
  • Azure: Azure IaaS provides an ideal environment for hybrid or fully hosted SharePoint farms, which we use primarily for large public websites on the SharePoint platform. Azure storage is ideal as SharePoint backup target, while Azure AD provides tight integration with Office 365 for on-premise or hosted SharePoint farms, as well as being a useful extranet authentication source. The Azure SQL Service can also be used to host content databases, for both on-premise and Azure-hosted SharePoint 2016 farms, reducing the SQL server resources otherwise needed.

Fuse have many years of experience in integrating all of the above products with SharePoint - we also use them all ourselves. Please contact us for more details.

Previous SharePoint releases

Fuse has been dealing with SharePoint since the first release in 2001 - our own internal farms retain some content that has been through each version upgrade since!

The initial version of SharePoint bore little resemblance to the SharePoint we have today. it utilised the same web storage system/database that Exchange used at the time, and though it presented a web interface, it was little more than a document storage system, with limited search capabilities.

Fuse did have SharePoint portal server installed, but we didn't use it very much other than to learn how it worked. Our experience with it was mostly through migrating content from the few customers that used it from 2001 into the SharePoint 2003.

This version included sites and portals, lists and libraries - still in the product today - and moved storage and configuration to SQL server. We had our own 2003 portal for a few years, using it as a company intranet for our group of companies. Use of SharePoint 2003 amongst customers was primarily as a document repository, with little structured content. It didn't really replace anything, but provided a new way of working for teams frustrated with shared folders.
The first truly successful version of SharePoint that has driven the product ever since, this version included much tighter integration with the Office products, and was much more accessible as a development platform, being based on ASP.Net and borrowing heavily from its development principles. More business services were added, and workflow improved. Our customers were now aligning their business processes with SharePoint, making it a core part of the business. We've performed a number of migrations to 2007, from SharePoint 2003 and other systems, as well as building many new SharePoint 2007 farms. We've also done a huge amount of custom development work on the 2007 platform, including running a 2007 as a public website for over six years.
SharePoint 2010 is much more like SharePoint 2016/2013 than it is 2007, and represented a major upgrade to the platform in several areas. New services were introduced, while the platform itself was made far more scalable, useful as uptake among large organisations meant increasing demands in terms of users and storage. The platform continued to improve as a publishing system, becoming a serious contender as a WCM system, and with improved governance and policy features, as a document end electronic records management​ system. As with 2007, many of our customer required upgrade/migration work, but we also took on a number of new farm installations as the popularity of the product grew.