SharePoint vs. SharePoint Online: A Full Comparison

In the cloud or better on-premises? Which SharePoint variant is more suitable for you? In this blog, we will compare SharePoint Online with SharePoint On-Premise on the basis of 8 different factors.


MS Office 365 and SharePoint Online provide you some great relief over things that you had to control manually in the former version of SharePoint On-Premise. Below, you will find out what these factors are and which version will be suitable for you. Let’s look at these comparisons below;

1. Scope of Functions – Mobile First, Cloud First

In recent years, Microsoft is aggressively focusing on the “Mobile First, Cloud First” strategy. In connection with SharePoint, users of SharePoint Online get their hands on them immediately. Microsoft provides automatic updates to its SharePoint Online version. However, users of SharePoint On-Premise need to pay for these security patches and updates.

Microsoft carried out a complete redesign of the SharePoint interface. And undoubtedly the most striking innovation of this redesigning process is the “modern sites”. This redesign is fully responsive from the start (i.e., best suited for viewing on mobile devices) and also offers a new development approach for extensions called “SharePoint Framework”.

This new approach further expands on the new “community sites” with a modern look and feel that will be available soon. Also, take a look at the “SharePoint Virtual Summit” from May 2017.

We strongly believe that sooner or later these modern sites will also be available for the SharePoint On-Premise version. Based on this example, you can already see where the journey is going. Initially, the users of SharePoint Online get the chance to use new, modern tools. Unfortunately, these tools are only available for the users of the cloud version.

2. Modern Collaboration Tools

In recent years, Microsoft has been working intensively on the complete Office 365 suite. Modern tools are already available to you online to increase your productivity. The integration of Microsoft PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, and, among other things, Azure Functions with SharePoint Online offers completely new possibilities for using SharePoint content and processes. Insightful webinars are also available to take a closer look at these tools.

The consideration that you have to make yourself: How would my employees like to work? How do they work today and what do they expect from a modern platform?

You can certainly not avoid Office 365 or SharePoint Online if getting mobile access or mobile collaboration are among your enterprise need. Of course, the hybrid working option will appeal to some of you. You can therefore have your data in your data center and at the same time use the advantages of SharePoint Online.

3. Updates

With the on-premises version of SharePoint, it is your job to carry out and manage the updates yourself. In contrast, with SharePoint Online, Microsoft handles the updates’ management, installation, and deployment.

4. Availability

In your data center, you cannot guarantee 99% of service and support availability all the time. But, with Office 365, on the other hand, Microsoft guarantees 99.5 % availability of the services with an SLA (this includes Exchange and SharePoint).

5. Backups

In SharePoint Online, Microsoft itself regularly creates backups of the entire farm. Apart from that, they ensure the redundancy of the systems so that all services remain available even if specific components in the data center fail. However, you must ensure that your data center is creating and testing regular backups.

6. Connection of External Users

If you use SharePoint on-premises, you have to create infrastructure to connect external users (quite a bit!). On top of that, you won’t be able to avoid setting up security features (such as login and multi-factor authentication) yourself.

External users already have the connection in SharePoint Online, and they can easily expand it with various Azure services. This way they can also implement functions such as two-factor authentication relatively easily.

7. Scaling

When it comes to scaling, Microsoft looks after the scaling itself. However, if you are using SharePoint Server, then you must recognize and eliminate slow database queries timely to avoid any bottlenecks.

Read also -> Five key features to expect in future smartphones

8. Management

Of course, you can do whatever you want on your farm. The central administration and the PowerShell are available to you as a local administrator or farm administrator. With SharePoint Online, you are moving to a client-separated farm that still contains several clients. Therefore, you do not have access to the SharePoint farm level here, but only to your client level. Because SharePoint Admin Center maps this whole thing.

However, you have the option of loading various Power Shell cmdlets with which you can automate administrative tasks in SharePoint Online. These PowerShell commands run from your infrastructure and connect accordingly to SharePoint Online or Office 365.

You can still find traditional services like Business Connectivity Service and Metadata Management within the Central Administration of your SharePoint Online.

Here, too, Microsoft has followed up and made the whole thing multi-client capable for the SharePoint online version.

SharePoint On-Premises and Online in Comparison: An Overview

SharePoint On-Premises and Online Overview

My Recommendation

With Office 365, Microsoft allows you to quickly make all essential products available for your company – and more. It relieves your IT department in the long term and, as a rental model, protects your business account in the long term. Your employees have the opportunity to use the Office products on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops without incurring any additional costs.

When Is SharePoint Online Worth It?

If you want to be able to work quickly: setting up an Office 365 account normally only takes a few minutes, and SharePoint will be available to you in no time at all.

  • If you want to reduce the costs of your infrastructure.
  • If you want to work together with external employees, partners, or customers.
  • If you want to use the new technologies like Office Delve and Sway.
  • If you want to give your employees state-of-the-artwork tools for mobile use.

When Is SharePoint On-Premises Worthwhile?

  • If you already have your infrastructure for SharePoint in-house.
  • If you have already integrated external employees and customers into your infrastructure.
  • If you need so-called “farm solutions”, i.e. special programs that penetrate deeply into the system.
  • If you have data protection reasons and concerns.
  • If you only have a low-bandwidth connection to the Internet.

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