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Which SharePoint When?

One of the most confusing aspects of Windows Server 2003 for users is sorting out the differences between free add-on services and the expensive back-end servers that build on, but also partially duplicate, the services' functionality.

Examples of free add-on services for Windows Server 2003 that fit this model are the Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) and the real-time communications services. Each service is complemented by a server product -- Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 on the one hand and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003 on the other.

Analysts at Giga Information Group recently put out a clear set of guidelines laying out the differences between the free, add-on SharePoint services for Windows Server 2003 versus the $4,000 SharePoint Portal Server (and its $71 CALs).

Analysts Laura Ramos and Erica Rugullies write in a recent Giga News Flash that organizations should use the add-on service alone "when the goal is too support distributed, ad hoc team activities centered on limited lifespan projects where end users create and manage workspaces easily."

The add-on services work well among members of a team or small group and provide a rich alternative to shared directories or Exchange public folders. But the Giga analysts argue that the SharePoint Portal Server is necessary for IT organizations that want to give hundreds of employees persistent and consistent access to distributed information, documents and application interfaces. The server also works well for accommodating customized views based on user profiles or organizational roles.

There are also instances where the service and the portal server are better together, the Giga analysts find. Those situations include sites that require capabilities across many team sites and content sources; organizations that want single sign-on; or organizations that need to enable event alerts that allow users to be notified when certain items are changed in a SharePoint repository.

The GigaFLASH can be found at www.gigaweb.com/browsemktg/0,2973,strComp%25253Dgigaflash,00.html.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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