Friday, 12 August 2011

Which SharePoint? Foundation or Server?

Many companies are now taking the plunge and moving to SharePoint 2010 to help them improve their internal systems whilst reducing their overheads, but which version should they chose?  There are actually 5 different versions although two of them are just Internet versions of the ‘Standard’ and ‘Enterprise’ editions so in this blog we will just focus on the main three.

It is not an easy choice and whilst Office Talk’s SharePoint Consultants are happy to advise it really depends on your organisations budget, requirements and technical expertise.

I have a similar decision to make at the moment because for the first time in twelve years I have decided I need a new telly. With the digital switchover happening in my area in just a few weeks and my old chubby Panasonic TV from the 90’s now looks quite outdated it is time to decide which new TV I should purchase. As with SharePoint it depends on my budget (which is probably around £500), which features I would like and which features I am actually going to use. Do I choose a plasma, LCD or LED? It seems to depend on what kind of programmes I am going to watch and what size telly I want. Reading reviews and online articles has probably confused me even more, but in the showroom the LED backlit ones seem to give the best picture. This could of course be because the sales staff just tune them in better because they make more money on them.

 Even when I have decided on LED I have to ask myself do I want a ‘Smart TV’. This isn’t a statement about the look of the TV, but whether it comes with Internet features. It seems that people want to use Twitter, Facebook and even Skype at the same time as watching ‘Coronation Street’. If it is a ‘Smart TV’ should it be wireless or am I happy having a Ethernet cable running behind my sofa? Then do I really want to see my Sky Sports in future in 3D (scary thought of seeing Iain Dowie in 3D)? Then there is the question of if I really want to try and balance those special 3D glasses on top of my normal specs?     
So back to deciding which SharePoint version is right one for you.  The main three SharePoint 2010 versions are ‘Foundation’ (the one that is sort of ‘free’), ‘Standard Server’ and ‘Enterprise Server’.  First consideration is cost and if money is no object then the Enterprise Edition is for you. If you have a very limited budget and already have Windows Server on a 64-bit machine then you can just download SharePoint Foundation 2010 with no licensing costs.  For many the middle one ‘SharePoint Server’ is just right. Sounds like Goldilocks and the three bears beds.

Each of these three versions have different features and thanks to Dave Coleman’s SharePoint EduTech I have listed all the feature differences below;

SharePoint 2010 Version Comparison
Access Services
Advanced Content Processing
Advanced Sorting
Audience Targeting
Basic Sorting
Best Bets
Browser Based Customizations
Business Connectivity Services
Business Data Connectivity Service
Business Connectivity Services Profile Page
Business Data Integration with the Office Client
Business Data Web Parts
Business Intelligence Center
Business Intelligence Indexing Connector
Calculated KPIs
Claims-Based Authentication
Chart Web Parts
Click Through Relevancy
Client Object Model (OM)
Colleague Suggestions
Colleagues Network
Compliance Everywhere
Configuration Wizards
Connections to Microsoft Office Clients
Connections to Office Communication Server and Exchange
Content Organizer
Contextual Search
Data Connection Library
Decomposition Tree
Deep Refinement
Developer Dashboard
Document Sets
Duplicate Detection
Enterprise Scale Search
Enterprise Wikis
Event Receivers
Excel Services
Excel Services and PowerPivot for SharePoint
External Data Column
External Lists
Extensible Search Platform
Extreme Scale Search
Federated Search
High-Availability Architecture
Improved Governance
Improved Backup and Restore
Improved Setup and Configuration
InfoPath Forms Services
Keyword Suggestions
Language Integrated Query (LINQ) for SharePoint
Large List Scalability and Management
Managed Accounts
Managed Metadata Service
Metadata-driven Navigation
Metadata-driven Refinement
Mobile Connectivity
Mobile Search Experience
Multilingual User Interface
Multistage Disposition
Multilingual User Interface
My Content
My Newsfeed
My Profile
Note Board
Organization Browser
Out-of-the-Box Web Parts
Patch Management
People and Expertise Search
PerformancePoint Services
Permissions Management
Phonetic and Nickname Search
Photos and Presence
Query Suggestions, “Did You Mean?”, and Related Queries
Quota Templates
Read-Only Database Support
Recent Activities
Recently Authored Content
Relevancy Tuning
Remote Blob Storage (SQL Feature)
REST and ATOM Data Feeds
Ribbon and Dialog Framework
Rich Media Management
Rich Web Indexing
Sandboxed Solutions
Search Scopes
Secure Store Service
Shared Content Types
SharePoint 2010 Search Connector Framework
SharePoint Designer
SharePoint Health Analyzer
SharePoint Lists
SharePoint Ribbon
SharePoint Service Architecture
SharePoint Timer Jobs
SharePoint Workspace
Similar Results
Silverlight Web Part
Site Search
Solution Packages
Status Updates
Streamlined Central Administration
Support for Office Web Apps
Tag Clouds
Tag Profiles
Tags and Notes Tool
Thumbnails and Previews
Tuneable Relevance with Multiple Rank Profiles
Unattached Content Database Recovery
Unique Document IDs
Usage Reporting and Logging
Visio Services
Visual Best Bets
Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Developer Tools
Visual Upgrade
Web Analytics
Web Parts
Windows 7 Search
Windows 7 Support
Windows PowerShell Support
Word Automation Services
Workflow Models
Workflow Templates

Although you can see that Foundation has a lot less features than the others it is still very powerful and there are many 3rd Party Add-ons that can add many of these extra features. It is like buying a telly that hasn’t got HD FreeView built-in and then buying a separate HD FreeView box.

Choosing Foundation Edition is similar to choosing a lower spec. TV. If you have never had ‘Rich Web Indexing’ you aren’t going to miss it, in the same way that if you have never had 3D on your TV you won’t miss it.

If I was recommending a ‘Best Buy’ for SharePoint 2010 and taking into account ‘value for money’ then I would nominate the Foundation Edition. But for larger companies (or organisations) who want the largest return on their SharePoint investment then SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise Edition is the one to choose. It is like choosing a 3D Smart TV with built-in HD FreeView and WiFi.
Office Talk offers a free service to help UK companies to decide which version best suits your individual needs. Please email to find out more.  
So now I am off to the electrical store to buy my new telly ready for the start of the football season. If you haven’t claimed your free Premier League SharePoint Template yet please visit and click the ‘Buy It Now’ option.
Good luck to the Villa during the new season. 

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