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SharePoint Web Content Management Licensing was Botched

SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) is described by Microsoft as an enterprise content management system. However, under the covers it sports web content management, document management, search, collaboration and business intelligence, among other talents.

If you ask the experts, the primary target market for SharePoint is small and medium businesses (SMBs). If you ask SMBs you might get a different answer though — as the licensing model alone is enough to send most of them running, with tails tucked tightly between their legs.

What if you are a SMB who just wants a solid Web CMS for your external website? Has SharePoint been priced out of your space? What about the companies who bought into Microsoft CMS (MCMS) and were expecting to continue playing with Wild Billy and Redmond Content Wranglers?

The SMB Web CMS market, we assert, has been left high and dry by Microsoft.

The SharePoint licensing model is typical for Microsoft — it’s confusing. It’s been discussed across the web more than a few times, which is not surprising considering MOSS' to-date popularity and buzz factor.

CMSWire had an opportunity to talk with Tom Rizzo, Director of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and he provided us with some insights into the MOSS licensing story and the decision to combine MCMS and the SharePoint Portal Server.

A Little Background on Microsoft Web Content Management

Prior to SharePoint 2007, if you wanted web content management from MS, you bought Microsoft Content Management Server (MCMS). It cost a little over US$ 6k for a per processor standard license and US$ 20-25K for an per processor enterprise license.

The primary difference in the licensing was related to scalability. A standard license could only be used on a server with a single CPU. With an enterprise license you could have an unlimited number of licenses on a single server and you could load balance your servers giving you high availability, etc.

So for standard license owners, they only paid the piper US$ 6k. For enterprise license owners they paid a minimum of US$ 24k and were likely paying at least double that for a dual processor server.

If you wanted portal capabilities you bought SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and a special MCMS connector to push content from MCMS to SharePoint.

Microsoft Web Content Management Today

Today, you cannot buy a standalone Web CMS product from Microsoft. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that SharePoint and MCMS needed to be integrated into a single product. That product is Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 — note the missing “portal” word —, more fondly and efficiently known as MOSS (see our review here).

Tom Rizzo said that the decision to combine the two products was partly driven by Microsoft customers who didn't want to have two separate products that were not very similar or complimentary things. He also said Microsoft looked at the two products and identified a lot of synergies such as workflow, search and versioning, deciding that rolling the two together made the most sense.

So to get SharePoint here's what you need to buy:

  • You pay a set license fee per server (not a per processor)
  • You can purchase a standard or enterprise license
  • A Standard license gets you WCM, document management, collaboration and search
  • An Enterprise license adds Excel Services, Business Data Catalog and eForms
  • If you want to build your public site with SharePoint, you must buy Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Internet sites

Take a look at the following table for a breakdown of costs:

ProductCost
MOSS Standard$4424
MOSS For Search Standard$8213
MOSS For Search Enterprise$57,670
MOSS For Internet Sites$40,943

This is the basic licensing model for SharePoint; we haven’t even touched all the other components that can be packaged with it — SharePoint Designer, Forms Server and SQL Server — nor have we included the whole Client Access License (CAL) fun.

From this information we glean the following:

  1. If you want WCM, you have to buy the entire package
  2. If you want WCM for your public site you have to buy the Internet Sites license.
  3. If you want WCM for both your internet and intranet, you have to buy two separate licenses, plus a bunch of CALs.

Up until September 2007, you couldn’t put an Internet Sites license and an intranet license on the same server. This kind of defeated the purpose of giving SharePoint a “Extend a Web Application” feature now didn’t it?

 

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