Sunday, 4 November 2012

An Introduction to Sharepoint Administration

What is the Role of a SharePoint Administrator?

Administration

Before discussing exactly what SharePoint Administration involves, it is first necessary to understand what SharePoint is and, conversely, what it is not. Microsoft's SharePoint is not a program or software, it is a platform.

It is a massive web-based platform that can house and accommodate huge amounts of data, documentation, images, presentations, calendars, discussion boards and blogs. And all of this data can be searched, accessed, updated, and shared in real-time. It is also a front-end tool where the webpages that are used to access and view all of this data can be customized just like any website.

SharePoint is a server based product that is installed on the back end of a system. It is not an individual application or program housed on people's desktops. Instead it resides on the back-end and that is the beauty of the design because it can be viewed, modified and shared by anyone within the organization, provided they have been granted access.
 
Access can be controlled, restricted and is flexible enough that it can even be taken down to the site level or document level. As an Administrator, you can grant read, write and collaborative access to any document or site within SharePoint. It is fully customizable.

When you consider the scope and potential of SharePoint, it becomes very easy to see the challenges facing an Administrator. SharePoint can be used to launch a simple departmental website with a few documents, task lists, spreadsheets or calendars.

Or it can be a massive repository for all of a large company's data and documentation, spanning dozens of different intranet websites and even connecting, reading and housing data from separate, legacy systems. SharePoint also does all of this without any significant drag on a company’s system or resources.

As a SharePoint Administrator, your role will depend largely on how much of SharePoint’s potential is utilized and what the scope of the platform roll-out. As with the earlier example, you might simply be creating an intranet website for a single department within an organization.

Creating a site does not require any programming or even web design skills. It can all be done through the user interface. As an Administrator, you are responsible for granting access for the sites you create and this, again, can be very straightforward or, it can become very complex if the platform is rolled out company-wide and access to data is taken down to the document level.

The SharePoint sites themselves can be customized just like any website. You can change the banners, import images, set up menus and essentially control navigation. So, the Administrator’s job in creating the sites will, again, depend largely on how much customization and functionality is built in to the sites.

Administrators can also grant access to lower-level administrators who can own and administer their respective sites and documentation. As SharePoint grows within an organization, multiple levels of administrators often develop.

Another major component of SharePoint is its search capabilities. It has a massive, built-in search engine that allows users to search through all of the internal documentation housed on the SharePoint site. The Admins role from this perspective is ensuring that all of the underlying documentation is tagged and indexed properly to allow for the full potential of the search capability.

This aspect of the Administrator’s role is not unlike someone responsible for search engine optimization. But, again, the tools used for tagging and indexing documents are more straightforward and user friendly.

There are many online resources for learning more about SharePoint Administration and even certification programs available. Microsoft’s own website is a great place to start or even online learning sites like Lynda.com can be a good resource for learning more about the platform.

SharePoint is a massive tool that houses tons of documentation in a collaborative, real-time, web-based environment. It is not unlikely that SharePoint Administrators will be in high demand as companies continue to move towards taking advantage of all that this platform has to offer.

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