Transforming Office 365 into an applications on demand platform

Office 365 is THE cloud office of choice. Since your collaboration and content lives there, it is ONLY logical that your applications also lives there, you end up with a single view of work. Therefore, SharePoint Online which is the heart of Office 365 is the best platform to build your solutions. Microsoft through its Office 365 API have made it easier to access data, including the things they care about most–their mail, calendars, contacts, users and groups, files, and folders–all right from within your app itself.

The main idea is that if you could construct applications by configuring a standard library of web parts to deliver the required functions then it could be easily deployed to another site by just replicating these configurations over to the new site. Viola, applications on demand. The benefits for such an approach could be tremendous, including:

  • costs & convenience – all solutions runs within the same platform
  • flexibility – all solutions deployed are customisable and extensible
  • stability – leveraging off a same, tested code base for all solutions
  • security – fully out sourced to Office 365

We embarked on this journey some 5 years ago along with many other SharePoint vendors who also bought into this promise. However, along the way most have stopped or pivoted from this initial journey. Perhaps it was the technical challenges, or the need to come up with a flexible web parts design such that you can accomplished a plethora with a limited numbers of web parts. Moreover, you need to be able to work with all the environment constraints of SPO, how to leverage off his security model, how to package ALL components of a COMPLETE solutions and redeploy it to the new site.

By COMPLETE, we mean everything within a application, from input, process and output, including the associated security and permissions controls. For example, see Employee Self Service or Ideas Management. The main idea is the ability to use Office 365 as a critical business workload engine.

From our experience, there’s a few major tasks that you need to include in your package and deploy mechanism, including:

  • All the different security groups for this solution (to be created/remapped during deployment) and its associated roles
  • All the pages and document libraries
  • All the web parts settings within each web part page
  • All the custom lists
  • All the navigation links (needs to remapped during deployment)
  • All related database (external db will need to be reconnected)

And during deployment, automatically recreate all these settings into the new sub site.

To date, we have not seen any other vendor taking on this approach! Have you?

One of the other key benefits is our ability to use Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. Our typical architecture implementation looks like this.

W360 Office365

Now, webparts360 can run solely on Azure services instead of having to run your own self-managed image on the cloud. You can use Azure’s web services such as:

  • Web service – Prices from USD48/month
  • SQL service –Prices from USD74/month

All these factors makes Office 365 the ultimate platform for building and running all your business workloads on the cloud. Isn’t it time you deliver a single view of work for your business? Do reach out to us.  We love to hear from you.

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