Understanding the SharePoint 2016 Technology Mix

By Ken Withee, Rosemarie Withee

Part of SharePoint 2016 For Dummies Cheat Sheet

SharePoint 2016 is a massive and complex product. Not only is SharePoint itself complicated but it relies on a whole series of other technologies to make the magic happen.

The SharePoint 2016 technology stack consists of:

  • Computer servers: At the root of any software system is a physical device called a server. A server is no different than your laptop, desktop, or even phone. They all use physical computer chips to make things happen in the digital world. A server is just designed specifically for heavy duty enterprise type software.
  • Operating systems: A physical computer isn’t much more than a paper weight or door stop without software to make it function. The software designed to make computers do stuff is called an operating system. In the Microsoft world the operating system designed for servers is called, aptly enough, Windows Server.
  • Databases: A database is installed onto the operating system and is specifically designed and optimized to store and manipulate data. The Microsoft database product is called SQL Server. SharePoint leverages the advanced capabilities of SQL Server in order to provide the features explored throughout the book.
  • Web servers: SharePoint is software that you interact with using your web browser. A special software product called a web server is the engine that delivers web pages to your web browser. The Microsoft web server is called Internet Information Services (IIS).

It takes this entire stack of technology to make SharePoint possible. You could even say it takes a software village. When this stack of software is in place, your IT team can install SharePoint. When your IT team installs SharePoint on your local premises it is called SharePoint On Premise. When you buy SharePoint as a service from Microsoft and access it over the Internet it is called SharePoint Online. With SharePoint Online the software stack is installed in Microsoft’s data centers and they take of things like installing, managing, backing up, and securing it all.

Letting Microsoft provide the SharePoint infrastructure lets your organization focus on your business. In particular, you can focus on leveraging SharePoint to increase your business value instead of worrying about the blinking lights of the servers and the intricacies of all of the software that makes up the stack.

You have a few different options when choosing SharePoint 2016. These options include:

  • SharePoint Server 2016, Standard license: Intranet, portals, extranets, search, and My Site social network.
  • SharePoint Server 2016, Enterprise license: Advanced scenarios for business intelligence, application integration, and Office 2016 services.
  • SharePoint Online: The cloud-based version of SharePoint. Offered as a standalone product or bundled with Office 365. SharePoint Online includes a number of different package options, which are a mix of the SharePoint Server features. In addition, from now on Microsoft will add the latest and greatest new features to SharePoint Online. At some point in the future (maybe SharePoint 2019?), they will take all of that work with SharePoint Online and create another On-Premises version of SharePoint. If you want to stay with the latest and greatest, then SharePoint Online is your best option.