SharePoint: What CIOs Should Know Before They Go

Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software is well-suited for midmarket customers, but there are some considerations CIOs need to make before rolling out the technology, said Ken Chin, research vice president at Gartner, Tuesday at Everything Channel's Midsize Enterprise Summit. Everything Channel is the parent company of

"It's ideal for the midmarket because of its lower cost to deploy and simplicity to deploy, but there are some things to look out for," Chin said, noting that more than 50 percent of midsize businesses use either Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS).

Gary Allen, CTO of Texas' Amarillo Independent School District, hopes to deploy SharePoint sometime next year after some other projects are complete. "It's attractive because it provides easy access for staff to get to resources," Allen said, noting that he's likely to wait until after SharePoint 2010 debuts next year before implementing the technology.

One thing CIOs should ignore is the misconception that SharePoint is free, Chin said. While WSS is free to Windows Server users, SharePoint carries support and resource requirements that have to be taken into account. Customers that implement the higher-end MOSS also will need a client access license, Chin noted. There also are supplemental costs to consider, such as requirements for additional database licenses, the costs of migrating content from existing file shares or content management repositories and the likely need for customization or third-party add-ons to supplement SharePoint's capabilities, Chin said.

Sponsored post

WSS's price tag might make it attractive to some customers, but CIOs that require a more robust solution -- one that includes intranet and content infrastructure capabilities, for example -- will need to bypass it in favor of MOSS, Chin said.

Chin also warned that there are some risks associated with SharePoint. "SharePoint sites tend to pop up throughout the organization, so as a result there is a lack of control," Chin said. It also doesn't necessarily replace all of the products a company might need for content management and business intelligence, he said. The software also has some weaknesses when it comes to workflow, issues Microsoft is likely to address in the 2010 release. Gartner recommends that CIOs dip their toes into SharePoint waters by rolling out pilots with 20 to 30 users.

To implement some level of control, Gartner also recommends that customers develop a site request form to aid in management and governance of SharePoint environments, requiring applicants to lay out details such as what the SharePoint instance will be used for, who owns it, what types of data will be stored, how long the site should be kept up and who should have access to it, Chin said.