Which SharePoint is Right for You?

An Article by Sheridan Chambers, Kevin Edwards and John Saboe

Microsoft provides two versions of its document collaboration and portal framework application, SharePoint: Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server. There seems to be a lot of confusion in the marketplace about the difference between these products. Because the price is very different, it pays to understand exactly what your organization needs.

Windows SharePoint Services 2003 and SharePoint Portal Server 2003 both allow collaboration and information sharing through documents, lists, and discussion boards between users. Both include document versioning and help improve document-management across an organization through document libraries and workspaces. Both allow team sites to be created, enabling small groups of workers to share and work together on documents.

So what is the difference?

While SharePoint Services focuses on small teams working online together, SharePoint Portal Server provides an enterprise-wide portal solution. Portal Server adds several significant features on top of the basic collaboration and information-sharing capabilities provided by SharePoint Services:

Individual User Dashboards Microsoft calls this “My Site.” “My Site” can combine your alerts and targeted content onto a single page as well as gather together other personal content into a single view. “My Site” also centralizes the view of all the users’ documents into a virtual “user dashboard” to make it easier to work on many documents in many libraries at once.

Content Targeting Content targeting is a tool for routing information to specific groups of users based on their logon. Users can earmark content for specific groups of users as they create it or add it to the portal and then send it out to those users only. The ability to search for this content can be dependent on content targeting as well.

Enterprise-wide Search Portal server has the ability to extend its search capability beyond the portal and into the organization itself. The search can be “tuned” to catalog content on specific file servers and web servers. It can also be pointed to public folders within exchange and can catalog the content of those servers well. Search results are returned with permissions and roles in mind, so content that is meant for specific people will not be cataloged and divulged to everyone.

Single Sign-on Permissions and roles can be managed through a single facility, SharePoint, and can be shared with other enterprise applications to dramatically enhance the usability of these other applications. For example, if your organization has a quoting application that restricts use by login, views of the application could be integrated into the portal and require a single login for access.

BizTalk Integration Out of the box, SharePoint Portal Server provides common connectors to BizTalk that enable information sharing and work flow in conjunction with other enterprise applications.

Which SharePoint is right for your organization?

If you are looking for a solution for pushing information across a medium- to large-sized enterprise, the features of the Portal Server will be necessary. If you are a small or a large organization trying to help small teams work together, SharePoint Services may be enough.

As a part of Windows Server 2003, SharePoint Services is included in the price and does not need to be licensed as a separate application. Each Windows Server 2003 user requires a Client Access License.

SharePoint Portal Server 2003, on the other hand, is a separately licensed application. Portal Server requires the use of SharePoint Services and must run on Windows Server 2003. The retail price of SharePoint Portal Server 2003 is $5,619 and includes the portal server and 5 Client Access Licenses. One CAL is required for each user of the portal. Additional CAL’s can be purchased for $71 each.