Concerns and considerations
We've really only touched on SharePoints capabilities thus far. We'll hit more specific information on content management, workflow design, search indexing and forms processing in our upcoming reviews of the other members in the Office Server family. Bottom line: SharePoint's feature set is huge, which brings up some concerns.
For example, I mentioned some attraction SMBs will have for SharePoint, but customers with limited hardware portfolios will need to think carefully about their MOSS implementations. Processing its own permissions, maintaining dozens, possibly hundreds, of shared document libraries, managing dynamic content, and even performing server-side end-user calculations is quite a to-do list for any server. Another consideration would be "big-time overhead." Multiply that by hundreds or thousands of users and groups and planning the hardware allocation part of your SharePoint installation quickly becomes paramount.
Another concern, especially for large enterprises, is IT support. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make SharePoint site creation something the average executive suit can understand and complete alone. That's great for dynamic team building. But it also means that IT may well be called to support sites it doesn't even know exist. Fortunately, Microsoft has good information on managing SharePoint in its TechNet library and MOSS has good management tools, too. But administrators just beginning a MOSS build might still do well to limit their users at the outset. That includes not only the number of sites a user can create, but also the number he or she can belong to, the types of features specific types of users can place in their sites and the types of feature categories you'll allow to function with Office.
My last concern is for larger companies, those for which Microsoft says it designed the product:,price. SharePoint is not cheap. With all that performance overhead, chances are you're going to need multiple servers: that's about five grand a pop, not counting hardware and Windows. Then the client licenses are cumulative. You'll need to buy a Standard CAL and then an Enterprise CAL on top if you're into the Enterprise feature set. That's a total of US$169 per desk, not to mention that Office SharePoint Server is a little insistent on having Microsoft Office on those desktops, too, and not the Small Business Version. The capabilities and features you're getting with SharePoint can certainly make this investment useful, but your budget's going to feel it out of the gate.
Remember, SharePoint is a vast Las Vegas buffet of truly useful (and thus potentially dangerous) collaboration features. That's what makes it scary. But Microsoft has done a decent job of allowing administrators to limit access to these features, meaning you can roll them out when you're ready rather than causing feature chaos at the outset. So take advantage.
BOTTOM LINE: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007
Verbal Score: Good
Numeric Score: 7.4
Cost: Base server license US$4,347; Standard client access license US$93; Enterprise client license US$76
Platforms: Windows Server 2003
Bottom Line: Office SharePoint Server 2007 is a platform that offers amazing new potential to Microsoft Office users, and it does so without loads of new training for IT. However, the platform is so powerful, that administrators will need to be careful when planning architecture and hardware distribution as well as when and in what order they'll roll out certain features.
Brian Chee is a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. Oliver Rist is senior contributing editor of the InfoWorld Test Center.