SharePoint Online Overview

I guess you all already noticed that Microsoft and all other major players are moving towards cloud computing and offering various online services. SharePoint wasn’t skipped in that movement, so now Microsoft also offers SharePoint Online services as the part of the Microsoft Office 365 service.

Please note that SharePoint Online services are not available as the separate service, but only as part of one of available Office 365 plans. There are few available Office 365 plans that contain SharePoint Online services. From the SharePoint point of view, let’s see what’s inside those plans.

Small Business Plan (P Plan)

  • Designed for up to 50 employees, but it is recommended that plan don’t exceed 25 employees.
  • Contains one site collection for collaboration.
  • Comes with one public (external) website created at the root level.

Enterprise Plans (E Plans)

  • Supports more than 5000 users.
  • Supports creation of additional SharePoint 2010 site collections.
  • Can turn on publishing feature.
  • One public (external) web site can be created.


  • Upgrade from P to E plans is not supported.
  • Workaround: export all data from the P plan, cancel the P plan, buy a new E plan, migrate the data back.
  • P plans do not support publishing feature.
  • P plans do not support several advanced features, such as:

> Multiple site collections

> My site feature

> Excel, Visio, Form services

> Encryption – https is not supported

  • SharePoint Online services does not support:

> Records Center functionality

> Advanced search features

> Most of the Performance Point and Business Intelligence features

> Farm-level solutions


  • Does not require any on-premises installed hardware or software (except for client machines).
  • Data can be easily accessed no matter where you are.
  • Offline synchronization capabilities.
  • Highly secure environment.
  • Scalability.
  • Can be migrated to the on-premises servers.

Customization and Development

  • Configuration by using the browser

Administration portal is there to give you tools required for basic administration. Also, while on SharePoint portal, there is a set of customization tasks you can perform by using your browser. For example, you can edit page layouts, add and customize the default Web Parts, add lightweight Microsoft Silverlight widgets to a page, or embed jQuery code in a Content Editor Web Part.

  • Customization by using SharePoint Designer

As for any other SharePoint site, you can use SharePoint Designer 2010 to build, design or customize your SharePoint Online websites. Customizations performed by using SharePoint Designer 2010 are declarative, but can employ client-side scripting.

  • Using Visual Studio to develop custom code solutions

To enable more technically complex solutions, SharePoint Online provides both server and client object models for developers. Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 provides a range of specialized templates for creating sandboxed solutions that contain a variety of SharePoint items, such as site and list definitions, workflows, Web Parts, event receivers, and content types, to include in your SharePoint solutions.

Sasa Tomicic IS a .Net & SharePoint consultant with 11+ years of experience. His blog shares his thoughts about SharePoint and .Net programming technics and the solutions about the challenges and issues I hit on the real-world projects.

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