Microsoft SharePoint, currently version 2013, has been around since 2001; it is a document-management/collaboration and web-application tool designed to store, share, and synchronize important content. It is closely aligned with the Microsoft Office suite and SharePoint Online is a component of Microsoft Office 365.
SharePoint Foundation (formerly known as SharePoint Services) is included within Windows Server; it is an entry-level freebie suitable for internal use. SharePoint Server 2013, the full-blown product, can be purchased separately and should be deployed on its own Windows-based server (or virtual server).
Deployments have been brisk; to date, millions of SharePoint-based sites, both SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Server, have been launched.
Large and medium-sized organizations deploy SharePoint Server to provide both internal and external collaboration. Including SharePoint Server within Microsoft Office 365 has put it within the financial reach of smaller organizations.
Primary SharePoint components and their function:
- Site – A collection of work-related content (documents, images, etc.)
- List – A collection of pieces of information, usually with the same properties
- Library – A governed list of documents, pictures, etc. stored in SharePoint
- Page – Location to upload/download content: Wiki, Web-Part, or Publishing
- Community – A unit for collaboration and communication
- Composite – Integrated collections of data, documents, and processes
Although SharePoint is easier to use than ever, it is a large, complex environment that should be approached with some experience and a well-defined plan.
ComputerWorld has the article SharePoint 2010 Cheat Sheet by Jonathan Hassell. (SharePoint Server 2013 came out about a week after his article released in December of 2012.)