Sunday, December 19, 2010

New SharePoint options for SMB

So SBS 2011 Standard has been released and will soon make its way onto the servers of SMB customers (so they say). SBS 2011 Standard includes an on site version of SharePoint 2010. This version is SharePoint Foundation 2010, which is kind of the upgrade from Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

 

Now SharePoint Foundation 2010 is a free download from Microsoft, which you could install on a Windows 2008 server without the need for SBS 2011 Standard. SharePoint Foundation 2010 also has a bigger sibling know as SharePoint Server 2010. SharePoint Server 2010 comes in two flavours, standard and enterprise both of which are really priced out of the market for SMB customers.

 

SharePoint Server 2010 enterprise has plenty of really great features including Access Services which allows you to host an Access database in SharePoint and using it through a web front end. It includes InfoPath services that allows you to host intelligent forms created with InfoPath on SharePoint without the need to have InfoPath installed on the desktop. Along the same lines you’ll also find Visio and Excel services. SharePoint Server 2010 also includes features like social networking so people can ‘like’ and rate results which improves their relevance to the organization. It includes something known as My Sites that gives each employee their own portal as a way of aggregating information about them and what they are working on. Finally, SharePoint Server 2010 includes a much improved and extended version of search.

 

Typically all this was out of the reach of smaller customers because SharePoint Server 2010 requires both server and client licensing, thus they settled for the reduced functionality in SharePoint Foundation 2010. But guess what? They don’t have to any more. Why? Because when Microsoft makes it’s latest version of cloud services available via Office365 customers can get access to almost the complete functionality of SharePoint Server 2010 for a few dollars per user per month.

 

Many of the projects I get engaged with are looking to develop an intranet using their SBS server. That’s great, and for some customers that will work well but when I speak to most customers about the benefits they receive from hosted SharePoint Server 2010 via Office365 combined with the reduction in administration, reduction in licensing complexity and so on, most are choosing to go with the online offering.

 

Until Office365 officially launches clients need to sign up with BPOS which is currently limited to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 but they all see the benefits of getting on board sooner rather than later and can’t wait for the upgrade to Office365 to take place. Personally, I can’t either because it is going to give businesses of all sizes access to enterprise software for a few dollars per month per user.

 

Roll on Office365.