7 Reasons to Love SharePoint 2013 as a Site Administrator

By Holly Hanna posted 01-15-2013 18:08


SharePoint 2013 seems to be getting a lot of buzz these days.  The reviews have been mostly positive, but there have been a few articles and discussions that appear to fundamentally misunderstand the new features and functionalities of the next release of SharePoint, even those written by seasoned IT professionals. 

I’m a Program Manager responsible for managing the SharePoint platform for Microsoft’s Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA) division.  Since the platform is built on SharePoint 2010, I am very aware of both the limitless possibilities of SharePoint and the potential pitfalls that come along with those possibilities.  We’ve begun the process of identifying a migration scenario for our properties from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 on Office 365; as part of that process, I’ve done a deep dive into the new features of SharePoint 2013.  Here are few that I’m excited about:

  1. Collaboration.

     SharePoint 2013 is now deeply integrated into the Office ecosystem, making it easier than ever to collaborate on projects.  What this means for end users is the ability to set up site mailboxes for collaboration sites (making it easier for team members to communicate as the project progresses), follow key documents and receive updates when the document changes, and save and share documents to SkyDrive Pro.  While the scenarios outlined here require SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013, and Office 2013, they do not require Windows 8.  That’s right – even users on Windows 7 can take advantage of the tight integration  of SharePoint with the rest of the Office suite.

  2. Social Networking.

    One of the key problems for anyone working in a large organization is tracking down that one person who is the subject matter expert on a topic that you need to understand.  SharePoint 2013 takes the My sites concept from 2010 and supercharges it, integrating discussion boards, and newsfeeds into SharePoint Communities.  Fully integrated FAST search means that end users can also search for documents, preview documents in the search results without opening the item, and share specific documents with others in their peer group.  Yammer can not only integrate into SharePoint, but it also provides a way for your users to collaborate securely with partners and customers outside your corporate firewall by leveraging the External Networks feature.  All Yammer connections are secured via SSL/TLS, and web application servers are physically and logistically stored separately from servers that store customer data.

  3. Mobile Devices.

    SharePoint isn’t just a desktop application anymore – now you can access your SharePoint site on your phone or tablet, on the go or in the office.  This integration is made even more apparent when deployed on Office 365.  No need to access the corporate network – a single sign-on gets you access to the data you need, when you need it.  While Microsoft products will always work first and best on devices running a Windows OS, the company has made a commitment to develop for both the Android and the iOS systems.

  4. Compliance.

    Microsoft’s legal group is extremely focused on issues of compliance, and we’re always looking for ways to make the eDiscovery process faster and more complete.  The eDiscovery feature, new to SharePoint 2013, allows us to search for relevant documents not only in SharePoint, but also in Exchange, on file shares, etc.  We can also place holds on individual Exchange mailboxes as needed.

  5. Search.

     Now that FAST is fully integrated into SharePoint 2013, search has become the preferred way to find and view information.  You can find not only sites and documents, but also individuals (through the user profile), suggestions from other users, and system recommendations.  The refinement panel has also been updated to make it easier than ever to drill down to the content that you’re looking for.

  6. SharePoint Apps.

    The introduction of the app model to SharePoint 2013 is a fundamental paradigm shift in how administrators manage SharePoint properties, and how end users consume content.  Azure integration means that apps can store large amounts of data in the cloud, reducing space requirements on SharePoint and ensuring system responsiveness.  Building your SharePoint implementation on Office 365 results in a lightweight SharePoint solution that is available anywhere, from any device.

  7. Security

    When accessing an Office 365 SharePoint site from inside the corporate firewall, Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) allows you to pass that user to the site outside your corporate firewall in a seamless and integrated fashion.  Claims-based authentication means that you can create highly targeted content and be assured that only audiences with the specified profile are able to access it.  It also means that single sign-on is much easier to achieve, since your SharePoint application is no longer required to authenticate users, storing user accounts and passwords, calling to enterprise directories to look up user details, and integrating with identity systems from other platforms or companies. 

My customers, both content owners who update information on my portal and end users who come to the site looking for legal guidance, will benefit hugely from our migration to SharePoint 2013.  Content owners, who generally have responsibilities that go far beyond content management, will love the ease with which they can update content—even copying and pasting from Word without having to remember to strip out the HTML that comes along.  End users will benefit from enhanced search, tightly integrated metadata, and the ability to follow key content and be notified when it changes.

And me?  I’m loving the idea of cross-site publishing and catalog-enabled lists.  The ‘friendly URL’ feature that integrates with managed navigation will make it easier for our content owners to share key guidance.  And the app model opens up a whole world of possibilities. 

SharePoint administrators definitely have a lot of decisions to make, and site migrations are always time-intensive.  And, of course, users will always want things done quickly so that they can get on with their work.  SharePoint 2013 is a product that will make life easier for everyone – administrators, content owners, end users. 

Even IT.

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