Microsoft has been busy as of late. In a move to make SharePoint the file server technology of choice, Microsoft is pushing its line of Web application platform products harder than ever before. Unfortunately, many business managers are getting lost under piles of new features, upgrades, and editions.
What’s even more confusing about SharePoint is that it comes in two different options: SharePoint Portal Server and Windows SharePoint Services. Each product has its own pros and cons, so in this post, we aim to point out a few key differences to help you finally get some clarity when it comes to deciding which option fits your organization best.
The first questions you need to ask when comparing SharePoint Portal Server and Windows SharePoint Services are how will the application be used and what will its focus be?
The primary role of Windows SharePoint Services is to create workspaces that foster collaboration amongst small groups of users by establishing a platform for sharing of a small collection of documents and other data.
SharePoint Portal Server was built on top of Windows SharePoint Services, meaning it can do everything that Windows SharePoint Services can. However, SharePoint Portal Server can manage much larger groups and collections of documents as well. Of course, this feature does not come without a cost.
Probably one of the first differences you will notice when shopping around for SharePoint Portal Server or Windows SharePoint Services is the price tag.
SharePoint Portal Server is definitely the more expensive option in terms of SharePoint products. It retails for $5,500 to $6,000 with five client access licenses, and that just covers the software—not the additional costs like a Windows Server license, more client licenses ($71 per device or user), and the cost of obtaining hardware to run SharePoint.
For IT or business managers on a budget, your best bet is to stick with Windows SharePoint Services. In contrast to the expensive SharePoint Portal Server, implementing Windows SharePoint Services is actually free!—not including the Windows Server and client access licenses, of course. And the list of available features is very similar to the SharePoint Portal Server, despite the major difference in cost.
Document Library Features
Although the price tag for both SharePoint options makes Windows SharePoint Services seem like the obvious choice, it’s worth taking a moment to discuss the extra document library features of SharePoint Portal Server, seeing as document management is such a critical component to SharePoint in the first place.
Using the library, a user can “check out” a document, make changes, and check the document back in. This prevents multiple users from making simultaneous and contradictory edits to a document. It also saves multiple versions of the file in case a user wishes to return to an earlier draft.
While both SharePoint Portal Server and Windows SharePoint Services offer this feature, SharePoint Portal Server goes one step further by employing a document library that is specially designed to index vast stores of documents that exist across several locations.
Essentially what this means is that SharePoint Portal Server makes it possible for users in an organization to use a single search engine to find whatever information they are looking for, regardless of where the file is located and what format it is in.
Find Out More…
As you can see, there are a number of similarities and differences between Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server. But understanding the intended usage, focus, cost, and library features of each application is a good start in distinguishing between the two.
If you would like to learn more about migrating to a SharePoint Web application platform, talk to one of SharePoint consultants here at Innovative Architects.