SharePoint Online vs SharePoint On-Premises

In SharePoint by Jake, Marketing1 Comment

Within any area of advancement there is an inevitability of choice.

Decisions – regarding long or short-term benefits of a solution, it’s ability to integrate into your environment and so on.

While there are other issues, we find the comparison between SharePoint Online vs SharePoint on-premises one that is frequently questioned, but rarely answered. The matter tends to be explained in quite vague terms due to the difference in the solution’s use.

Just to give you a sense of what SharePoint can do, here are some of its more famous features: intranet, extranet, document management & collaboration [both internally & externally] through to business process automation, paperless office, line of business applications and more.

While there have been some very beneficial continued product updates, there hasn’t been a great deal of clarity on the difference between on-premises and online. The key enabler of moving data to the Cloud environment is to improve the way that data is delivered, and as such – great opportunities are formed.

Here are a few SharePoint conversations we frequently find ourselves in:

SharePoint on-premises stumbling blocks

Q. “We’d like to share our content externally and collaborate with our customers and suppliers….”

Here’s the issue –

Sure we can setup an external facing portal in a DMZ, with a host of complex and costly network configurations with varying degrees of security and functionality to sync your local farm and then develop forms based authentication integrating with your identity management solution. However, while it is possible in an on-premises environment, it is native, more cost efficient and less risk in an Online environment.

Decommissioned hard drive casings from old data center
Q. “We have a number of home workers and road warriors that need to be able to work remotely from mobile devices”

Again, we can setup access through a VPN or VDI and allow users to sync thousands of files (and hope there are no conflicts). We could also do that expensive and complex extranet thing for our own staff…

Getting serious with the capabilities of SharePoint Online

Now if you consider the vastly different position you find yourself when Online, such as that when you are asked question like this –

Q. “But what about my cool web parts, Line of Business [LOB] apps, the timer jobs, my forms & workflows and corporate design that we spent time and money on implementing all of which are vital to supporting the business…”

You can happily answer with – there’s not a lot that you can’t do in SharePoint Online that you could On-Premises, by way of developing solutions with intelligent architecture, using client side code and superfast search to surface content you can deliver on all of these things with SharePoint Online.

SharePoint solutions developed on Office 365 SharePoint online are akin to a Swiss Army knife of business tools accessible anywhere, anytime, any device.

The dilemma of SharePoint

The main cause for issue is a miss-understanding of how you wish to get to your goal. If done correctly, you get great customer adoption –

“I love Co-Authoring’ in SharePoint and Office – it’s a great way to collaborate and share documents even when out of the office.” Read more.

blue sweater typing code on a mac

Written by Alex Cuthbertson | SharePoint Practice Manager, RedPixie | See his LinkedIn Profile


  1. Sumit Gupta

    I have been in the scenario before where I had to create an external environment for people to share the files.
    That was one of the biggest drawbacks on SharePoint on premise.
    Excellent comparison mate, this is gold!

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