Microsoft announced the deprecation of SharePoint Online Public Website feature as of January. Microsoft has stated that existing customers will be able to continue using the feature for at least 2 years. In the meantime, customers using Sharepoint Online (O365) to host their public website will need to consider migration options.
However, the challenges of making the switch without interfering with workflow, business-to-consumer interactions, and how to migrate content, data, and design appropriate to a third party provider are some of the major concerns that customers are grappling with.
Microsoft’s Alternate Solutions For Hosting Public-Facing Sites
Microsoft has made it clear that current Office 365 customers will have access to SharePoint Online Public Website feature for at least two more years after the deprecation date. Customers who use the public-facing feature are expected to migrate to a third-party vendor during that period. For small and medium-sized businesses who rely on SharePoint Online for hosting public-facing sites, Microsoft has recommended Wix.com and GoDaddy as website hosting partners for Office 365 at a discounted rate.
Wix.com is an Israeli-based web-development platform vendor. At the moment, the platform serves over 59 million subscribers worldwide. The reason for such a large customer base is no secret. Wix simplifies website creation via its platform by enabling people with no coding expertise or experience to create complete and professional HTML5 websites. Wix web-development platform uses a simple drag and drop editor to integrate templates, plugins, and e-commerce functionality into websites.
Wix provides small and medium-sized businesses a rich tool to create websites and mobile sites via several hundreds of templates by using its drag-and-drop editor, e-commerce and mobile integration, and the opportunity to opt for several business management apps in the Wix App Market. Some of Wix apps are designed for social media, testimonials, event calendar, live chats, maps, comments and lots more.
Office 365 Enterprise customers can create and manage a public-facing website via Wix.com and integrate the site with Office 365 service.
GoDaddy is one of the world’s leading Internet domain registrar, web hosting, and cloud-based product company. As at 2014, the platform boasts of about 59 million domain names under its watch and serving over 13 million customers worldwide. Such huge figure has made GoDaddy the largest ICANN-accredited registrar worldwide.
According to GoDaddy, it targets Very Small Business owners (VSB) by providing services that include website hosting and design, website creation, domains and security as well as ecommerce. The platform provides customers hundreds of professional template designs that allow easy customizations via easy to use drag-and-drop tools.
The Arizona-based company offers other web-based services such as GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping, Email Marketing, and Digital Identity. GoDaddy’s offers a Microsoft package to small businesses that include unified access to email connected to productivity solutions, cloud storage, and domain names.
Other Public-Facing Migration Options for Office 365 Customers
Some public websites are require more features than can be served by these two offerings. Here are a few more content management system options for a public website that have many of the sophisticated features that Sharepoint offers:
At the moment, WordPress is the fastest growing Content Management System (CMS) software. Earlier, WordPress was only related with blogs as its major features were largely associated with simple blogging experience. However, WordPress developers have successfully expanded the features of the platform to allow the creation of sophisticated websites via a user-friendly interface. The platform is currently seen as more of a CMS system than a blogging tool. WordPress provides effective tools for creating public-facing websites.
Drupal is a free CMS software package that enables users to easily structure, manage, and publish content with hundreds of customizations. It is an open source CMS platform rendering solutions for millions of applications and websites. Drupal allows users to create anything from personal blogs to websites, online communities, media portal, online store, and enterprise applications. Drupal boasts of hosting some of the biggest websites online including The White House, Examiner.com, and The Economist. Drupal features, tools, and several significant elements make it a relevant option for creating public-facing sites.
DotNetNuke initially started as an open source community for developers to communicate, add value, and exchange ideas and expertise. At the moment, DotNetNuke offers a set of solutions for creating productive and satisfying Internet experiences for users and partners. At the moment, DotNetNuke’s suite of products and solutions forms the basis of over 750,000 websites around the world. Also, DNN provides Social community solutions and Commercial CMS platform. Furthermore, DNN allows marketers to publish, customize, and measure content anywhere on the Internet via its new product Evoq. For Office 365 Enterprise customers, DNN is a dependable option to migrate public-facing website to.
Sharepoint is an Option
Finally, keeping your public website on Sharepoint is still an option. It just can not be hosted on the Office365 platform.
If your organization has made heavy investments in your public-facing Sharepoint site, you may want to migrate your Sharepoint Online site to on-prem or to a hosting service. You will be able to retain all of the features of the Sharepoint online website. Needless to say, the hosting and maintenance costs will increase, but that will be a fraction of the cost of starting over using a new platform. If you have already invested in development and training on the Sharepoint platform, there is little reason to scrap all of this and move to a new platform.
SharePoint on Azure
Azure is Microsoft’s brainchild and the cloud-based product that is one of the market leaders of cloud-based computing. One of Azure’s leading features is the Web Apps. Azure App Service enables developers to quickly create, organize, and manage sophisticated websites and web-based apps. The Azure platform can easily be used to host public-facing websites whether on Sharepoint or any of the other third-party options listed above.
Migrate Your Office 365 Public-Facing Website Easily With Affirma
Migrating your public-facing websites from Office 365 shouldn’t disrupt your workflow, customer interactions, or business processes. At Affirma, we have the required skills, experience, and expertise to consult with you on the best migration path for your public-facing website – whether it is to migrate to an alternative third-party CMS platform or migrate Sharepoint hosting.
As a Microsoft Gold Certified Content and Collaboration partner, Affirma provides end-to-end management of the migration process from setting up servers, to developing appropriate features, to creating and migrating content. Also, we can be consultative and help you choose the best public-facing website solution that suits your business needs and goals.
Over the years, Affirma has helped hundreds of clients with successful SharePoint projects including migration, re-designs, integration, or custom web parts. Regardless of your company size and digital real estate, Affirma can help you migrate successfully and establish an authoritative online presence easily. Contact us now!