This is a continuation of the ongoing blog series that explores the differences between a SharePoint farm hosted with Office 365 and one residing in a private cloud provided by Fpweb.net. In the previous post we took a look at the SharePoint 2013 Developer features missing in Office 365.
In this post, I’m going to examine the IT Professional Features missing in Office 365. This is a comprehensive listing of the missing features of SharePoint 2013. There’s quite a few of them!
In the following section, I’ll examine some of these missing features more in depth and explore how it affects your SharePoint farm. The italicized text in the following list are excerpted from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/sharepoint-online-it-professional-service-description.aspx.
Missing IT Professional Features
AAMs. SharePoint Server 2013 customers can configure alternate access mapping to map requests where the URL of a Web request received by Internet Information Services (IIS) differs from the URL that was typed by a user.
Claims Based Authentication Support. SharePoint Server 2013 customers configure claims-based authentication for web applications that support SharePoint Server 2013 server-to-server authentication and app authentication. Learn more about claims-based authentication.
Configuration Wizards. SharePoint Server 2013 customers can use the Farm Configuration Wizard to configure some SharePoint Server 2013 services automatically.
Distributed Cache. SharePoint Server 2013 customers can use the Distributed Cache service to cache feature functionality, which improves authentication, newsfeed, OneNote client access, security trimming, and page load performance. Learn more about Distributed Cache.
Host Header Site Collections. SharePoint Server 2013 site collections can have their own unique host header. Creating a host-named site collection enables organizations’ to host multiple site collections with vanity URLs, which are easier for people to remember.
Patch Management. Server 2013 updates will be released by using a two-step phase process: patching and upgrading. During the patching steps, new binary files are copied to the Central Administration server.
Quota Templates. A quota template consists of storage limit values that specify the maximum amount of data that can be stored in a site collection. When the storage limit is reached, a quota template can also trigger an email alert to the site collection administrator.
Read-Only Database Support. SharePoint Server 2013 administrators can set content databases to be read-only.
Remote BLOB Support. Remote BLOB Storage (RBS) is an add-on feature pack for Microsoft SQL Server. RBS is designed to move the storage of binary large objects (BLOBs) from database servers to commodity storage solutions. If the content databases in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 are 4 gigabytes (GB) or larger, consider using RBS as part of your data storage solution.
Request Management. SharePoint Server 2013 administrators can define rules, by using Request Manager, to do request routing and throttling to improve performance.
Request Throttling. Request throttling provides SharePoint Server 2013 administrators with options for throttling HTTP requests when front-end web servers become too busy to handle all the incoming requests.
SharePoint Health Analyzer. New for SharePoint Server 2013, site collection pre-upgrade health check examines a site collection and then generates a report listing ay potential upgrade issues and how to address the issues.
State Service. The State Service allows SharePoint Server 2013 customers to check whether all services in their farm are configured correctly.
Central Administration. SharePoint Server 2013 administrators can use Central Administration to perform administrative tasks from a single location.
System Status Notifications. SharePoint Server 2013 site collection owners will receive an email message and a status bar notification in a site collection when an upgrade is available.
Unattached Content Database Recovery. SharePoint Server 2013 customers can recover content from an unattached content database by using Central Administration.
Usage Reporting and Logging. SharePoint Server 2013 administrators use audit log reports to view the data in the audit logs for a site collection. Learn more about Site Collection audit logs.
A Closer Look
As you can see there’s quite a few SharePoint 2013 features missing. A whole other blog series can be written exploring each missing feature in-depth. Right now, though, I’m going to examine only a few of these missing features.
No Central Administration.
As a SharePoint Administrator, this hurts me.
I’ve been using SharePoint for quite a while and I have browsed to Central Administration more than I’ve browsed to Google. Office 365 does provide a web based interface for managing your SharePoint site. However, it’s not nearly as robust nor does it possess the feature set of the standard Central Administration. And consider this: many SharePoint solutions have extensions for managing their solutions that are displayed in Central Administration. Without Central Administration, there is no managing of these products. In fact, they more than likely would be impossible to install in Office 365 anyway. See the previous blog post in this series about Office 365 missing Full Trust Solutions.
AAM and host header site collections.
Alternate Access Mappings and host header site collections both allow administrators to configure custom and friendlier URL’s for web applications and sites. So instead of something like https://intranet.mycompanyname.com/sites/accounting/ a user could browse to a URL like https://accounting.
Claims Based Authentication Support.
There are many reasons to opt for Claims Based Authentication. For example, maybe you want a set of external users to access a particular SharePoint site, but you don’t want these external users managed in Active Directory. Just how significant is Claims Based Authentication support? According to this Microsoft’s TechNet article “Claims-based authentication is a requirement to enable the advanced functionality of SharePoint 2013.” (bold mine)
This is a big one. You have no control over patching in an Office 365 SharePoint farm.
Basically, Microsoft will patch and update as it sees necessary. For those of us who’ve been administering SharePoint for quite a while, this is a scary proposition. Unfortunately, patches and updates have been known to negatively impact SharePoint farms. I’ve seen entire farms just plain stop working after a patch has been applied. What I usually recommend regarding patching is only apply patches and Cumulative Updates to fix a specific problem. Basically, if it isn’t broke, don’t do something that can break it.
With Service Packs, we recommend a proper investigation into the site and, if possible, installing the Service Pack in a test environment before applying it to production. These recommended practices, however, are impossible with an Office 365 environment. Microsoft won’t investigate each hosted farm prior to applying an update. They’ll just apply it… and hope for the best.
In addition to those missing features discussed in this section, there are other features missing from Office 365 that can directly impact performance. Among these are the Distributed Cache, the State Service, Request Management, and Request Throttling.
All of these missing features ultimately limit your SharePoint 2013 farm implementation. And although a missing feature may seem insignificant at first, it may pose a roadblock in the future.
The fact is, Office 365 does not provide a SharePoint farm with the features and flexibility as a private cloud offering from Fpweb.net. Although this and the previous post discussed missing features, there are still more! In the next post, I’ll look at the missing Content features.