SharePoint Online: Overview

SharePoint Online is a highly available service that provides users the full power of the SharePoint on-premises, without worrying about managing complex infrastructures, updates, etc. Deploying SharePoint Online is quick. It is important to mention that Office 365 products like OneDrive for Business and Teams leverage SharePoint Online in the backend.

SharePoint Online has two plans with different options. Plan 1 is included in Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium and Enterprise E1. SharePoint Online Plan 2 is included in Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5. When you subscribe to an Office 365 package where SharePoint is included, SharePoint automatically creates some site collections when the Office 365 tenant is configured.

Modern SharePoint Experience

One of the SharePoint features that everybody talks about is the modern SharePoint experience.

But…What is Modern SharePoint experience? Modern SharePoint is completely new user experience. It is easy to understand and truly user-friendly. It is more than a fresh look. Modern Team sites are responsive by default; it includes an out of the box news-publishing engine, allowing users to share the news with the rest of the team.

SharePoint modern experience is more than a user-friendly website with:

  • Modern List and Library
  • Modern sites; Team and Communication site with a template
  • Modern Site Pages

SharePoint Online allows external users to access specific folders or files. With this feature, an organization can collaborate with external users as if they belong to the organization. You can now share the content using any of the following options:

  • Sharing files and folders with anonymous users – When this option is enabled, users can create a link to a document giving anonymous users access to a particular file.
  • Sharing files or folders with named external users – When you share a file with an External User, it is treated as an ad hoc external recipient that will not require a Microsoft account to be created or used.
  • Sharing sites – When you share a site, a Microsoft or Organizational account is still required. A Guest Account will be provisioned in your Azure AD for this particular user. Notice the slight change in the naming convention here, as Microsoft is slowly transitioning from the term External User to Guest User.
  • Adding external users to an Office 365 group – If a SharePoint site is also an Office 365 group, you can add External Users to the group, granting them access to the SharePoint site and other group content.

When an organization uses SharePoint for a couple of years, the organization can store large volumes of all kinds of information, form project documents, to personal documents. It means that finding the right information can become increasingly difficult over time. SharePoint Online has both a classic and modern search experience. Both are enabled by default.

SharePoint search engine goes through all sites, pages, wikis, lists, libraries, folders, and files in SharePoint. Search results only display the content that users have access to. Additionally, using eDiscovery the administrators can use this search service to find all SharePoint content or they can use it to find specific regions. For example, all SharePoint content in Europe.

SharePoint Online tools let you create custom workflow solutions that may provide value within an organization. Workflows can streamline the cost and time required to coordinate common business processes, such as project approval or document review. Workflows not only support existing human work processes but also expand the ways in which people can collaborate and work with documents, lists, and libraries.

Data Retention and Data Loss Prevention:

When a site collection is deleted, the site hierarchy and all content within them are also deleted. There are always risks for data loss due to accidental or malicious deletions. When an item is deleted in SharePoint Online, it is retained in the recycle bin for 93 days. Only the users that have the rights can restore the files from the recycle bin. However, what happens if an organization needs to restore a file that was deleted after more than 93 days? To mitigate this kind of situation, SharePoint online provides Data Retention.

Data loss prevention is an important feature that helps organizations to protect their information. By setting up the required policies, organizations can prevent sensitive information from being shared. If an attempt to share a document with the sensitive information is made, you will get an alert indicating that a user tried to share a file and it was blocked by the configured policies.

Information Rights Management (IRM)

It is a feature that is only available on the Enterprise Office 365 Plans. It allows you to control the security of your data and prevent users from editing/ printing documents, or even accessing them after a specified time. IRM helps to protect restricted content in the following ways:

  • Helps prevent an authorized viewer from copying, modifying, printing, faxing, or copying and pasting the content for unauthorized use
  • Helps prevent an authorized viewer from copying the content by using the Print Screen feature in Microsoft Windows
  • Helps prevent an unauthorized viewer from viewing the content if it is sent in an e-mail after it is downloaded from the server
  • Restricts access to content for a specific period of time, after which users must confirm their credentials and download the content again
  • Helps enforce corporate policies that govern the use and dissemination of content within your organization


If the organization has its own SharePoint on-premises, the administrators can extend local features, configuring a hybrid SharePoint environment. SharePoint Hybrid enables users in SharePoint on-premises environments to take advantage of SharePoint Online functionality. SharePoint Hybrid Features:

  • Hybrid Search
  • Hybrid OneDrive for Business
  • Integrated App Launcher
  • Hybrid Team Sites and Delve Integration

SharePoint Online is a powerful platform in Office 365. It provides many features and collaboration benefits to organizations. Additionally, SharePoint online has strong security capabilities like Information Rights Management, which helps organizations avoid data leaks.

Let us know in comments how this blog post has been useful in mapping out your future business & operational requirements. If you have a question, feel free to reach out to connect with our specialist here.




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