Saturday, October 06, 2007

SharePoint + Services

Microsoft has a new Software + Services vision, so this can't be much of a surprise: they are now offering hosted SharePoint "in the cloud".

Currently it's limited to organizations with "more than 5,000 employees" (so if you only have 4,950 you should top up) and includes hosted Exchange, Communications, and SharePoint all in a bundle called the "Business Productivity Infrastructure Online Services Offer".

It's definitely a good idea. I've had some involvement trying to come up with a managed SharePoint offering and the complexities of SharePoint administration and development make it a hard thing to price and support.

Microsoft looks to be avoiding that by making it largely self service, thereby placing their hosting effort on reducing the infrastructure and licensing burden which is I think a fair call and well within their control. I imagine they can also leverage their Fantastic 40 templates and the like to give customers some customization options.

Although it doesn't seem to be part of the basic SharePoint offering, something the associated Energizer case study mentions was the use of SoftGrid's Softricity to provide virtualized applications. This could be helpful to quickly roll out Office 2007 client deployments without causing problems and would fit well with the hosting bundle which includes Exchange.

The new Office clients would maximize the utility of the MOSS functionality, and providing them via virtualization would do an end-run around the problem many large organizations face, which is providing a quick turnaround on new Standard Operating Environments.

For a large organization this could be the "one stop shop". It'll be very interesting to see whether Microsoft can make this more widely available. Full details are here.

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