When we talk about SharePoint, we are used to thinking that the platform is hosted on our own, simply because this was the usual way to have it on our systems. But when Azure arrived, and with it SharePoint Online, rules have changed a bit, so before entering in the Administration Center I’ll share with you a quick comparison between these versions, so you can better understand later why the Administration at Server side changed so much among versions.
A quick comparison between SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-Premise
SharePoint On-Premise is the most used approach (for now) when we talk about having a corporate intranet for a company. This means that the entire system is located in the company’s data center. Not only the SharePoint Farm itself, but the SQL Servers, Active Directory, DNS Servers, and every Service that is needed in order to have a functional corporate intranet.
SharePoint Online changed this paradigm, simply because the whole platform is now hosted on Azure, on the cloud. This means that we no longer need to worry about server provisioning and maintenance. We no longer need to worry about SQL Servers, about Active Directory and all related and mandatory Services to be running at our cost. It is all hosted, configured and maintained in the cloud.
This approach is positive in many ways, no more data centers are needed which will save your company a ton of money in terms of physical space, equipment and servers. Additionally, they promise a Service uptime of 99.9% which is crazy, and very hard to achieve in an On-Prem scenario. This includes no downtimes for their servers patching and upgrades.
But on the other hand, Azure needs to be treated carefully because they will charge you for each Service that you consume, all that is now hosted in the cloud. They have online calculators to allow us to know estimated how much do we need to pay for different scenarios such as storage needed, network bandwidth consumption, server provisioning and others. Apart from that Microsoft is doing a great job breaking the paradigm in this way. This allows small companies to be able to have their own corporate intranets, not only with lower costs but also not needing a full team of professionals to work especially on the above services that were mentioned.
If you worked before doing Server Administration tasks for SharePoint, then you will find the Administration Center for SharePoint Online quite familiar. The interface changed with a modern style, but you will notice a major difference: There are no longer server-side configuration functionalities. Why is that?
As mentioned before, SharePoint Online is hosted on Azure, and we as customers or “tenant administrators”, don’t have access anymore to the farm servers, simply because these are now fully supported and maintained by Microsoft. This means that we don’t have to worry anymore about Server upgrades, Patches, Cumulative Updates, and even the terribly boring server monitoring task activities that we usually need to do if we work as SharePoint Server Administrators. This is now handled by Microsoft.
You might think that the Server Administrator role is over now that Microsoft limited greatly our interaction with the farm, but that is far from being true, fortunately. The Administration Center still gives us the ability to manage functionalities of great importance, such as the Term Store management, Business Connectivity Services, Secure Store management, and of course Site Collections creation, among others. These are not strictly server related settings and are intended to extend the configuration of our tenant thinking more on the end user.
In this article, I’ll show you some of the most useful activities that we as tenant administrators can perform using this feature.
The Administration Center
You can access the Admin Center through an URL of the following format:
The above screenshot shows the “homepage” of the admin center. You will notice immediately what was mentioned before, regarding the great limitation that we will have now as farm administrators, less work for us 🙂
Site Collection Creation
This functionality is very similar to the previous versions of On-Prem SharePoint, in order to create a new Site Collection with a particular template, resource quota, Primary Site Collection Administrator, etc. The main difference for SharePoint Online is that you won’t be able to select a Web Application. The URL of your Sites will be formatted with your Tenant name, for example.
The following video will show a quick demo of how this works:
Site Collection Settings Ribbon
You’ve seen how to create a new Site Collection. I’ll show you now the different settings that can be applied to these Sites.
- New. As shown above, the Site Collection creation process
- Delete. Self-explanatory, the site will be deleted (but not entirely). It will go to the Recycle Bin, allowing you to restore your site if it was deleted by mistake.
- Properties. General information in regards to your selected site, such as Title, URL, Storage Quota assigned, Administrators, etc.
- Owners. You can configure here The Primary Site Collection Administrator and the general Site Collection Administrators (a new feature for SPO) of your site. On previous versions of SharePoint, at Central Administration side you were only allowed to modify the Primary and (deprecated for SPO) Secondary Site Collection, Administrator. Microsoft heard our prayers and they’ve included now the ability to set more Site Collection Administrators, those that we needed to configure at the Site level, directly at the Admin Center. Personally, I was very happy when I found out about this, because one of the most tedious tasks I used to have was to add admins to particular sites, and I had to go to each one of these sites to make this happen. Now we can do all this from one place 🙂
- Sharing. This is quite interesting if you want to have a public SharePoint site, with the ability to be discoverable on the Internet. In this setting, we can configure the level of privacy that you want your content to have, to allow users to connect to your site through your domain, all the way through setting it completely to the public to be browsed by everyone.
- Buy Storage. Depending on your subscription status you can buy storage in case the site grows and you need to add more space. You will be redirected to the subscription page to purchase the extra storage at the cost of Gigabyte per month.
- Server Resource Quota. This feature will allow the handling of computing resources of your sites, intended to protect the sites from having much load that could harm the Microsoft platform. For example, if you deploy a custom workflow that has a very poor performance, it could consume too many resources, and using this limitation it will maintain the site integrity. By default when you create a Site Collection the resource quota will be set as 300, but through this setting, you can increase the number up to 5000 if needed.
- Upgrade. When Microsoft launches upgrades to the Site Collections, you can use this feature to make your sites upgrade automatically, or to retain older versions, depending on your business needs. It is common to see situations where the business is working on a particular project and they can’t afford the risk to have the site upgraded, which can alter the user experience.
- Recycle Bin. Do you remember the Recycle Bin at the site level, where you have the ability to recover lost data such as files, lists? This is the same but for Site Collections. If you delete a site using the Administration Center, it will go here for 30 days and then it will be deleted permanently.
This was a general overview for the Administration Center including a Site Collection creation demo, there are more features and those will be covered in future articles. For now, I hope you find this information instructional for your work activities.