Monday, March 10, 2008

MOSS: Microsoft Online SharePoint Server

Awhile ago I blogged about the experiment Microsoft was making providing SharePoint managed services to some of its biggest clients, what I called "SharePoint + Services". I guess the verdict was favourable - Bill Gates recently announced SharePoint Online.

The announcement took place on March 3 at the SharePoint Conference in Seattle.

Some key features include a guaranteed uptime of 99.9%, the regular out of the box SharePoint functionality, Microsoft Forefront AV scanning, SSL access, and (in the case of the dedicated environment) a data trust to the clients' Active Directory to allow AD integration. Templates will likely include the Fantastic 40 and each user gets 100MB of storage standard.

From an auditing perspective Microsoft offers the following:

  • Sarbanes-Oxley self assessment and external audit support
  • SAS 70 Type II self assessment and external audit support
  • Security assessments
  • Intrusion monitoring and detection

The auditing is a good way of reassuring nervous customers that hosting in the clouds won't present any legal threats.

I rushed to sign up for the beta but this is currently only available to some US-based customers. After a few months of beta testing hopefully they will release to the global market.

It remains to be seen what the pricing structure will be (Microsoft suggests they will follow the regular Software-as a Service model of "pay per user per month").

For small and medium organizations online SharePoint hosting may be very tempting as they will forego the complexity of planning, configuring and managing SharePoint in their environment and concentrate on using it. Larger organizations may be better placed / more interested in managing their own systems, or (depending on the price) may find it too expensive when scaled to thousands of users.

Current MOSS managed service providers include WebCentral in Australia, eMantra, and Altus in Canada and the United States.

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