One of the simplest questions people ask is what SharePoint offerings does Microsoft supply? It’s a simple question but often very hard to find a good answer to that question (that is easy to understand for non technical people).
The naming conventions can be confusing on their own: WSS, MOSS, SharePoint. WSS 3.0 of course is Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and is a service supplied free by Microsoft. MOSS actually stands for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and often is followed by 2007 (2003 being the older version).
So okay, you understand the terminology/naming, but where does SharePoint Online fit into this? Or the other similar offerings by Microsoft such as live small business, or live workspace? A recent post on the SharePoint End Users Blog: http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/blogs/GetThePoint/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=144 summarized these “offerings” perfectly in my opinion. See details from that post following (they have broken it down into 4 types):
Office Live Workspace, believe it or not, is built on SharePoint but highly customized and simplified for the end user. The idea is simple – create a workspace (which is like a folder), add files to it, then share it with others. Create and share Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, pictures, notes, and custom lists with anyone you want. Or use it to share files between work and home, which is a lot easier than emailing files back and forth.
Personal Note: I love using this with friends and for personal stuff. I have my resumes, and different personal documents online in a workspace so that if I ever need any of these I can just login and print/use these documents as needed.
Small-SharePoint (Pretty Much Free)
Office Live Small Business is also built on SharePoint but highly customized with Web features, Web applications, and Web site tools. It includes a Web site, multiple email accounts, and Web applications ideal for the small business with up to 10 employees. The Web site features allow you to create a site without knowing a thing about HTML, Web design, or Web creation software. Use the included Web applications to manage and communicate with employees and customers. For simple file sharing, use the Office Live Workspace included with your account.
Personal Note: If you haven’t checked this out yet, do so immediately. It’s awesome. I have helped get many of my friends small businesses up and running using this. It’s simple, easy, and best of all QUICK. If you just need a web presence and don’t have alot of technical know how, or coding experience this is what I would recommend as a starting point.
Medium-SharePoint (Low Cost for Subscriptions (per user))
SharePoint Online, along with Exchange Online, Communications Online, and Live Meeting make up the new Microsoft Online Services. Rather than installing and maintaining SharePoint Server, SQL Server, Exchange Server, and other server software in your office, just sign up for this business hosting solution and let Microsoft do the heavy IT lifting for you. The service can handle up to 500 individual PC users. Just launch a Web browser, and you have immediate access to your entire business environment.
I would highly recommend this service to any small business that has outgrown Office Live Small Business but is too small to manage a SharePoint deployment.
Personal Note: SharePoint Online is available in standard and ‘deskless worker’. The SharePoint Online ‘deskless worker’ includes portal, team sites and search, but is read only. The standard contains the collaborative capabilities. This isn’t WSS, this is a regular MOSS (publishing etc) with a few items of functionality unavailable. On this same note they have a BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) which has SharePoin, Office Communications, Exchange etc. If you want many of the other Microsoft solution sets.
Large-SharePoint (Well worth the cost!)
SharePoint Server (Windows SharePoint Services and Office SharePoint Server). Last but not least, we have the actual SharePoint software in the box. For the large and enterprise organizations looking to deploy a completely customized and integrated content management solution across the organization, this is what you need. With SharePoint running on your corporate servers, you have complete control over your corporate Intranet, Extranet, and Internet presence, and you can build on the existing collaboration tools, managed business processes, and integration with Microsoft Office client applications.
This is what I use at work every day to communicate with colleagues, collaborate on projects, find critical business data, and actively monitor projects in my department and other departments.
Personal Note: This also technically offers more functionality than the online subscriptions would, but it is important to note that you need dedicated IT staff to run this successfully (in my honest opinion).
Anyways, I figured this was worth re-iterating and referencing the great blog post by the end user SharePoint guys.
Love what they do,