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Why I Love Office 365 and Why Your Business Will Too

I am a technology geek. That’s not the badge of distinction it used to be, but I still wear it proudly. I have managed my personal email and web sites for years. I would write little bits of functionality to do things like share my calendar or collaborate on planning a wedding. It worked okay, but I usually spent more time building it than using it. As life got busier, I started looking for more packaged solutions. I usually went the open source route. It was better than I could build on my own, but it was still not as good as the tools used in my workplace. About five years ago I began running a SharePoint instance at home (yes, this is where it gets very geeky). It was great, but despite all sorts of networking wizardry it just was not that useful when I was not at home. User adoption of my home SharePoint solution plummeted—granted I was dealing with a user base of two people.

My technology needs had out grown my infrastructure and my ability to support what my users—okay what I—demanded. Office 365 came to the rescue. For far less than I spend on coffee each month, my household is now equipped with enterprise class email and collaboration tools.

Beyond Document Management – Top 5 Uses within SharePoint

Allyis has completed dozens of SharePoint 2010 projects since the beta product launched in 2009. While each project presents its own challenges and innovations, there are a few uses of SharePoint that seem to appear time and time again.

Collaboration

I know. You navigated all the way to this blog, just to hear that SharePoint is still used as a collaboration tool. There is nothing Earth shattering here, but this is good opportunity to reflect on how far our little online file sharing tool has come.  In SharePoint 2010, collaboration has fully matured. Outlook integration, SharePoint Workspace and Access allow nearly full-fidelity access to your data off-line.  There is no more waiting until each person is done with their document edits before you can start. With Office web apps and Office 2010 integration, everyone can work on those documents in real-time at the same time. So, yes SharePoint is still heavily used for collaboration, but make no mistake this is not your father’s collaboration.

Business Connectivity Services (BCS) Using SQL Authentication in SharePoint 2010 Foundation

One of the most exciting features in SharePoint 2010 Foundation (the “free” one) is the inclusion of Business Connectivity Services (BCS). This feature allows you to access data outside of SharePoint, surface it and interact with it as though it were native SharePoint lists!

In SharePoint 2007 you had to upgrade to the server version (MOSS) to get access to this sort of functionality. Of course, nothing comes completely for free and there are some limitations. The main limitation comes with how you connect to SQL databases. With SharePoint Foundation, unless you want to give each user access to the SQL database, you will need to specify SQL credentials to use. This involves a little extra work, but is worth the effort.