Here in New England the foliage has begun to appear, signaling two things: flurries are not far behind and it is budget season.
Ah, budget season; that time of year when CIOs and IT Directors look into their crystal balls and try to predict the technology budget figures necessary to help drive business processes and deliver increased operational efficiencies.
Today, if your organization is invested in Microsoft technologies, specifically SharePoint (Microsoft’s collaboration and content management product) you have probably started thinking about SharePoint 2010 (the next version scheduled for RTM in the first half of 2010). What does that budget figure look like?
Let’s start by putting aside the obvious: there is a licensing cost to SharePoint. Based on your existing licensing arrangement and some data from Microsoft you can probably calculate the software cost for SharePoint 2010. More importantly, however, there are other costs you must consider when thinking through your SharePoint 2010 planning. Here are some examples:
SharePoint 2010 will require 64 bit technology, on all servers. If your organization does not currently use 64 bit servers then you must consider the need to provision new servers for SharePoint. This includes production as well as development, test, UAT and Disaster Recovery. Also, remember this is ALL servers, including your database servers. Are you currently using virtualization? How does it impact your infrastructure costing?
|Protecting Windows: Microsoft Exchange Server Data Protection|
Microsoft will also launch Office 2010 next year. Not surprisingly, the end user experience with SharePoint 2010 through the Office product suite will be best when using Office 2010. Note, Office 2010 is NOT required with SharePoint 2010; it just offers the richest integration. Companies currently using Office 2007 will probably be fine with the functionality and can plan an Office upgrade separate from a SharePoint upgrade. What about if you are still on Office 2003? You may want to strongly consider going to Office 2007 or Office 2010 BEFORE going to SharePoint 2010.
One of the biggest benefits of leveraging SharePoint in a Microsoft technology centric company is that it integrates well with the other products. One of the challenges, however, is that you must invest in managing that connectivity (from a versioning perspective). Think of SharePoint as the hub of the Microsoft product line. You have other products, like SQL Server or Project Server, that connect well but must be kept current if you choose to continue to push toward the new SharePoint. Are you currently using SQL Server 2008? If not now, when? What about Project Server? Team Foundation Server? Think about all your SharePoint touch points and fold them into your upgrade plan.
Microsoft promises to offer a clean upgrade path from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010 (fingers crossed!). Even if we assume a relatively smooth technology upgrade path, you’ll still want to assess your current SharePoint usage to determine if consolidation or reorganization (of content) is beneficial. Based on how SharePoint usage has evolved and how you’ll leverage the new features you might want to invest in some assessment time to course correct (functionally) as part of an upgrade. Another tidbit, if you are using any 3rd party or custom SharePoint functionality you’ll need to assess the upgrade impact or sunset paths for each.
SharePoint is an enabling framework, one that allows business users a high level of self-service. With that comes accountability. In the next version, we’ll see more freedom with both content management features and social computing. This will require companies to invest more in education and governance planning to ensure that the integrity of the content stays high and users are properly guided toward using SharePoint in the directions defined by the organization.
Do you have in-house SharePoint expertise or do you typically outsource SharePoint strategy and/or implementation? How much help will you need during and after the SharePoint 2010 upgrade/deployment? Make sure you account for any services time required to optimize your SharePoint experience.
See where I’m going with this? Getting to SharePoint 2010 is not simply a licensing exercise. It requires thorough planning if you want to get to an accurate budget figure. Think it through, have a plan; more importantly, have a roadmap! This will eliminate the roadblocks and minimize the risks and surprises.