As an end-user, I sometimes forget that there are layers to SharePoint and take for granted the complexity going on behind the scenes. When getting my work done I want it to work (the first time and every time)… And like baking a cake with many layers, you have to know what is in each layer to insure it delivers what is expected. In the case of SharePoint/computers/applications, the details of the hand offs between the layers can make or break a successful result.

Think of it… what we see on the screen in front of us is the surface of computing. The power behind the actions we take (point and click) to have our applications work is at best an orchestrated dance between technologies – at worse, it is the potential for so many things that can go wrong.

Within the computer are hardware components to make the machine run and on top of that basic layer is a connection to the drives, which stores information and programs. The computer transmits data keyed into a form or screen to the application, which places the data in a database – that may be on a local drive or a server on premise or in the “cloud”. It uses the network which consists of a cable or connection to the firewall that determines if the transmission is safe or authorized, and sends it to a router which will direct the information to the destination. The network interface card/OS determines the correct protocol and breaks the transmission down into the packets of data that will be reassembled on the other end. It travels across your internet connection (wirelessly or by cable/hardwired – also known as a pipe). From there it will do its handshakes, scans to determine if it is authorized and meets the expected criteria before it is allowed to enter the pipe to the system.

All of that (and more) is taking place in nanoseconds, thousands of times per day.

Where does SharePoint reside in all this? It lives in multiple places, spanning the layers and when properly implemented allows for coordination by automatically associating predetermined Meta data that will launch workflow and proper storage of the item. This makes it fast and easy to locate a document, for example, by a keyword search or sorting by document type. SharePoint is brilliant, really – it tracks changes to documents, can automatically email notifications, and even do follow up for pending items. With so much going on behind the scenes in the computer, tools are needed to keep us effective and one step ahead. Keeping things organized and automatically handled frees us up to focus on the important challenges facing our businesses. SharePoint is your personal keeper of documents and information, even letting you know when something new has arrived or it is time to take action on something….. And the best part is, it interfaces with your MS Office applications.

Life without a computer, applications and SharePoint, for me is unimaginable. The hours it used to take to do things is a dim memory and everything is now measured in seconds. While computers are at the center of our businesses, and we feel the pain of when things don’t go right – we are dependent on them and having support is necessary. The next time you see you IT Guy (or Gal) or SharePoint Support person be sure to thank them. Their world is complex and full of unpredictability.

About Your Columnist

Linda Amaro is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers topics, tips and tricks surrounding The Virtual Office and using Microsoft SharePoint to improve collaboration. Linda Amaro, has been in the Information Technology (IT) industry for over 30 years and has risen to the position of CIO in the corporate arena managing multiple departments with over 150 staff members and projects for tier one customers ranging from $2.5 million to $20 million. In 2010, she started Klarinet Solutions, a SharePoint consulting firm that provides SharePoint Design, Site Branding, Workflow Automation, On-Line Forms Development, Document Management, Custom Development and Business Intelligence.

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