Monday, 8 March 2010

Premiership SharePoint - MOSS v WSS ?

Even after nearly ten years of Microsoft’s SharePoint the main question SharePoint Consultants are still asked is; “what is the difference between SharePoint Server (currently MOSS 2007) and Windows SharePoint Services (currently WSS 3)?”

There is a document on the Office Talk website that lists which features are available in each version. At first glance you will probably notice that WSS does an awful lot of what MOSS does, so maybe the fact the WSS is FREE (providing you have Windows Server 2003 or 2008 and the Windows Server CAL licences) will tempt you. So why do people pay for the full SharePoint version?

Perhaps a good comparison was yesterday in the FA Cup when my beloved Aston Villa very nearly missed out on their second trip to Wembley in two months. At half time the mighty Villa were trailing 2-0 to Championship side Reading and heading, embarrassingly, out of the cup. Stick with it I will explain the SharePoint relevance and am not just gloating about a Villa victory. Now, the whole Reading team probably cost only a few million pounds and very few of the names were known to many of us. Yet the Villa team had internationals like Downing, Milner, Young, Dunn, Friedel (for our American readers) and big John Carew. Last time I calculated this Villa team had cost well over £70m to put together - thanks to the generosity of our American owner Randy Learner. So comparing Reading with Aston Villa would be like comparing WSS with MOSS.

Yet for much of the game Reading showed they were easily a match for the claret and blue stars. In the same way that WSS does, probably, at least 70% of what MOSS can do. It has the same Intranet style presentation, has the same document versioning controls, can create the same surveys, can apply the same permissions, can create the same reporting views and uses many of the same webparts. Just as Reading’s eleven men could do very much the same as Aston Villa’s men. Then in the space ten minutes after half time everything changed. Villa hit top gear and Reading were left chasing shadows. The Premiership class could be seen in movement, finishing and sheer belief. The reason that the Villa players cost more was there to be seen by everyone tuned into ITV. It was like suddenly seeing the extra benefits of full SharePoint Server. The added value of being able to search across multiple sites, the full two-way integration with Active Directory, the personal MySites (that allows each user their own automatically created site), the ability to target certain audiences, the addition of Form Services, the creation of Business Intelligence dashboards and the colourful graphs of Excel Services. Suddenly the extra investment was shining through and the differences were clear to anyone who wasn’t watching the EastEnders omnibus.

So this season’s FA Cup has just five premiership teams in. No team from outside the top flight is still dreaming of lifting the famous trophy this year. In the same way it is true that if you really want to maximise your returns on SharePoint, providing you can afford the initial investment, then you should go with the full Microsoft Office SharePoint Server version. But if this is not something you can afford to do now it is still worth installing the free Windows SharePoint Services. This will let you start to develop a system and a platform and then maybe next financial year you can make the step-up to the ‘Premiership’ of SharePoint. All the sites you create in WSS will work in MOSS. You don’t need to invest in a completely new team just make a few tweaks. Am going too far with this football analogy?

Maybe it makes financial sense though to look at one of those FA Cup Semi Finalists, Portsmouth (our Marketing manager Frank Faulds’ team). Portsmouth won the cup in 2008, but since then they have been hit by financial ruin and even now their future is in doubt. So they are like a company that have invested all their money in a MOSS project using the most expensive consultants (should have gone to Office Talk) and adding all the top SharePoint third party add-ons (Control Point, MediaRich, DocAve, etc). Maybe they should have cut their cloth accordingly and stuck with Windows SharePoint Services. What’s more important having a team to support for years to come or a few visits to Wembley? If you want free advice on the cost of implementing any form of SharePoint drop Frank an email on

Any Liverpool supporter reading this might be left thinking that Reading over two games knocked them out of the FA Cup. This goes to show that any project needs good leadership to succeed. In the way that all SharePoint projects, be them WSS or MOSS, will be helped by the involvement of a SharePoint Consultant. Well done Martin O’Neill for whatever you said to those Villa players at half time. Perhaps there is a training course that Rafael Benitez could go on. Now is there a training course on how to beat Chelsea at Wembley.

Comparison Document MOSS v WSS

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