hubley, SharePoint, and the Cloud

There is as much mystery around SharePoint Online as there is about the Cloud. What is it? Why should you care? Why do we hear about it all the time? How is it relevant to hubley?

Let's start with this: SharePoint Online is SharePoint in the Cloud. Stay with me. This will make sense.

This is an actual definition of the Cloud that I heard in a meeting once:  The Cloud is an abstraction of the hypervisor layer.

Not super helpful.

I was trying to think of a good metaphor for the Cloud. I thought about going neo-platonic with microcosm and macrocosm. There is always the store-front comparison (banks, grocery stores). I considered pulling in some imagery from Keanu fangirl classic The Matrix (with shame, I admit I am the Keanu fangirl).

In the end, none of these ideas landed for me, and I think that’s because the Cloud just is what it is, it’s not hard to understand (as long as the words abstraction and hypervisor are avoided), and the thing that confuses people is the metaphor we have all already embraced for this technology, the idea of clouds—ethereal, dancing through the atmosphere, the stuff of daydreamy picnics.

What is it?

The Cloud is a distributed system of shared storage and data redundancy accessible via the Internet. Instead of relying on one hard drive from one computer, which is the case for local storage, the Cloud is many, many, many servers in a network (SYSTEM) in buildings across the world... and sometimes underwater... (DISTRIBUTED), interconnected, and redundant (SHARED), pooling their memory to provide massive amounts of storage (well, STORAGE). If there is a data center failure, the exact twin of that data center somewhere far away will keep your data safe. And when one fails, another twin spins up.

It isn’t some wacky metaphysical version of the internet, which, for me, is what the Cloud connotes.

And, sure, technical people will be yelling at me 3 minutes after this blog post is published because I’m leaving out details about security and virtualization and radio waves and yadda—but, honestly, the definition above is right enough for our purposes.

Why should I care?

Several companies own Clouds—their servers in buildings they may lease or own, called “data centers.” These servers house your data and copies of your data for redundancy/disaster recovery. You pay the company to keep your data secure and to give you access when you want it. Microsoft and Apple are two such companies. When I talk about "the Cloud," I mean Microsoft's.

Why do I hear about it all the time?

Cloud computing is a real buzz phrase these days. You hear about it because it is everywhere. It is a service that vendors are selling. It is good for customers because it is inexpensive and accessible. It is good for vendors because they are, well, making serious banks. Back to the consumer: All the major players are offering private Cloud services, which creates competition, which is why it is inexpensive. And back to the vendor: If you make a thing cheap and reach the masses, you still make money.

How is it relevant to hubley?

hubley was developed specifically for friendliness with SharePoint Online, though it may also be implemented on-prem with physical servers in a freezing cold server room that scares non-infrastructure people.  Microsoft's Cloud is where core O365 and its buddies like Delve and Yammer live, along with subscription-based access to Word, PowerPoint, Project, Visio, etc. With O365, SharePoint Online is inexpensive. SharePoint Online licenses may also be purchased without the Microsoft 365 bundle at a price point that is more than comfortable for most business budgets.

With SharePoint Online, your environment is a “tenant.” Instead of “farm,” which is used to describe the physical infrastructure of on-prem SharePoint, a tenant is the universe where you can spin up site collections. Because your tenant lives in Microsoft’s Cloud, Microsoft manages the farm. You then engage us to implement hubley, and manage your content, apps, and workflows—the stuff we all love about SharePoint.

The Cloud represents a huge evolution for the SharePoint platform. It removes the overhead administration and procurement involved in requisitioning servers, installing and configuring the operating system, and patching/maintaining an aging physical infrastructure. Now all the cool stuff SharePoint is known for—centralization of content, process automation, corporate communication—that used to be available only to large corporations with UPS Store, Kraft Foods, and Viacom-sized budgets is open to all businesses on a subscription-based fee schedule. In addition, hubley is priced competitively and maximizes your  Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online investments.

We think that’s something to write about!

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