Choosing between WSS and MOSS

on Sunday, November 1, 2009

Many clients ask whether they should be using Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS 3.0) or SharePoint Server 2007. Here is a high level list that I use to help them make this decision.

A high level question to answer is: "Is the organization serious about using SharePoint technologies as part of the tool set that is provided to the end user community." In almost every case where the organization answers "yes" they end up selecting the SP Server 2007 product.

Questions to consider:

  • Is there budget for the project. WSS 3.0 is free, and no CALs are required, while SP Server 2007 costs money per server, typically uses SQL 2005 servers to store the data, and the CALs cost money. So there is a big delta in cost between the two. The Server version of the product can be evaluated before the commitment is made.
  • Are My Sites needed? They're only available in the SP Server 2007.
  • Is a Site Directory needed? The Site Directory feature is only available in the Server 2007 product and can be very helpful if a large number of sites will be created.
  • Are user profiles needed? the Server version of the product can connect to AD and pull in user information which is then stored in the profiles db.> Is there a need to search and index content sources outside of the SharePoint content dbs? If so SP Server 2007 is needed and it can index file shares, web sites, Exchange Public Folders and other sources out of the box.
  • Will the organization be using workflows for production processes? WSS 3.0 is very limited in out of the box workflows, while SP Server 2007 offers more flexibility with Approval, Collect Feedback, Collect Signatures and Disposition Approval workflows.
  • Is integration with MS Information Rights Management (IRM) needed? If so, you need the SP Server 2007 product.
  • Are retention and auditing policies needed? If so, you need the SP Server 2007 product.
  • Will the more advanced branding and publishing tools be needed? SP Server 2007 provides master pages and page layouts that can be used to brand the look and feel of the top-level and subsites.
  • Are policies, auditing and compliance features needed? SP Server 2007 allows for the creation of document retention and expiration policies, workflow processes to define expiration, tacking and auditing and other tools.
  • Are browser-based forms required? If the Enterprise features are enabled with SP Server 2007, browser based forms can be published (so InfoPath is NOT required to fill out a form).
  • Will the organization be using Excel Services? This feature is only available in SP Server 2007.
  • Is the Business Data Catalog required? The Business Data Catalog allows SP to mine data from external databases via application definition files. A number of dedicated web parts then enable SP Server 2007 to display this data to form advanced dashboards.
  • Is Single Sign-On of interest? Again, this is only available with SP Server 2007.