• Exposing Corporate Assets Through SharePoint Server 2013 Extranet or Office 365 External Sharing

    A simple definition of an Extranet is – an external network that has authorization to access a private network, enabling remote users to leverage internal corporate resources. Access between the Extranet and Intranet is typically done through a browser that is connected to the public Internet.
    This blog post is intended to help you understand, at a high level, the difference between SharePoint Server 2013 Extranet and Office 365 External Sharing. For a more complete understanding of these two products or to help you make a decision about which is the right solution for your company, I have provided some additional resources at the end of this post.

    SharePoint 2013 Extranet Overview

    SharePoint Server 2013 extranet environments ‘extend’ a private network out to remote users so they can access corporate assets as if they were directly part of the internal network. Typically, only a portion of the organization’s information and processes are shared with remote users, which can be made up of customers, partners, employees or contractors. The type of corporate assets that might be made available are such things as: documents, branded information, personalized content and views, collaborative content, libraries, etc.
    Based on the individual user’s security profile, extranets can provide a portion of or even the full scope of SharePoint functionality to external users. A SharePoint Server 2013 extranet can provide access to sites and data such as:
    • Internet-facing access to a subset of sites and data, or…
    • Internet-facing access to the full breath of SharePoint capabilities
    Extranet content is typically hosted within an organization’s corporate network and made available through an edge network or, in some cases, through an environment isolated within a perimeter network. This type of hosted architecture enables better system performance as well as more control over security.

    The SharePoint 2013 extranet can enable remote employees that are geographically dispersed through a seamless authentication experience, and can enable external partners to participate in internal business processes, with partner isolation, so that only the partners who are invited to participate can have access. There is also the ability to provide internal data segregation, limited authorization as needed and a restriction of data across a broad spectrum of partners. In addition to employees and partners, SharePoint 2013 can provide customers with access to targeted content, segmentation controls to mitigate cross-contamination of data, and limitation of content and search results based on their security profile.

    Office 365 External Sharing

    Before we discuss external sharing, let me answer the question, what is Office 365?
    Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription-based online service that provides individual and corporate users access to various products and services built around the Microsoft Office platform. 

    Office 365 is also the business and enterprise design for Office 365 leverages the cloud to provide access to servers on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) basis; and include Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, and MS Office Web Apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.).

    To extend access to remote users who are not members of an Office 365 subscription group, Office 365 has the ability to provide External Sharing. Users who do not have user accounts for the source SharePoint Online environment within Office 365 are considered ‘external users’ and can be granted access. This is done by activating the external sharing feature in SharePoint Online so that external users can be invited to use the site and/or site content though an email-based invitation and authentication.

    In Office 365, an organization can manage external sharing on a global basis through the SharePoint Online Administration Center, or through specifying more granular sharing options such as allowing sharing only with sign-in at the site collection level
    • Share the entire site by inviting external users to sign in using a Microsoft account and Microsoft Office 365 User ID.
    • Share individual documents by inviting external users to sign in using a Microsoft account or an Office 365 User ID.
    • Send a guest link via email to a user to view documents on the site anonymously.
    External Sharing can be accomplished in one of three different ways when using Office 365:

    Advantages and Disadvantages of SharePoint Server 2013 Extranet Compared to Office 365

    There are three advantages to External Sharing with Office 365 versus SharePoint Sever 2013:
    • Simplified share model that also can provide granular access to corporate resources
    • Cost-effective
    • Light-weight solution to sharing basic data and information when complex business logic is not required
    SharePoint Server 2013 Extranet requires additional network and infrastructure configuration which increases cost and complexity. For businesses seeking only to share limited content and/or collaborate short-term without the need for a seamless logon experience or whose extranet environment is not subject to corporate or governmental regulations, Office 365 provides an external sharing capability tht can be leveraged to make company assets available over the Internet.
    There are four advantages when using SharePoint 2013 Extranet:
    • It is possible to provide data isolation within a trusted network and external access can be restricted to a perimeter or edge network. SharePoint Online Service Description. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/sharepoint-online-service-description.aspx
    • Data maintenance can be performed at a single location
    • SharePoint 2013 Extranet can be comprised of a single environment that facilitates both internal and external collaboration with granular access controls
    • SharePoint 2013 Extranet can be implemented with a separate or shared Active Directory infrastructure.
    Additional Resources

    Overview of publishing to Internet, intranet, and extranet sites in SharePoint Server 2013 [http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj635881.aspx]
    Share sites or documents with people outside your organization [http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-sharepoint-online-enterprise-help/share-sites-or-documents-with-people-outside-your-organization-HA102894713.aspx?CTT=5&origin=HA102476183]
    Manage external sharing for your SharePoint online environment [http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-sharepoint-online-enterprise-help/manage-external-sharing-for-your-sharepoint-online-environment-HA102849864.aspx?CTT=5&origin=HA102476183]
    What is an external user? http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-sharepoint-online-enterprise-help/what-is-an-external-user-HA104036809.aspx]

    SharePoint Engine

    For more information about SharePoint Server 2013 and Office 365, or to discuss having us help you select which option is the best solution for your company, please contact SharePoint Engine.

    SharePoint Engine is your leading provider for Microsoft SharePoint solutions. We provide a wide array of products to help improve the most important aspects of your business' functioning. All of our process-oriented solutions are customized to meet your precise objectives. Additionally, our team is made up of recognized industry experts who specialize in SharePoint and have been working with SharePoint since its release.

    For more information, please visit our website at www.SharePointEngine.com or call us at (877) 368-7202

    Feel free to contact our Microsoft Sharepoint Consultant team here.

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