Context:

the call was to deploy rapidly an intranet test bed environment for a big company based on microsoft share point technologies:

  • Windows Sharepoint Services
  • MOSS (Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007

what I’ learned and the company too.

If the IT infrastructure is Windows based Share Point is a good solution to accomplish the mission. For testing purposes it’s easy to install and deploy. It’s totally integrated with MS office application and provides a lot of advanced tools for collaboration and knowledge sharing.

The most interesting tools and features are:

  • Document libraries and document workspaces
  • Standard workflow management application (request of feedback, approval, document translation management and issue tracking)
  • Team sites ans team discusisona apps (Forums)
  • Shared calendars and meeting sites.

Building a testbed application let’s the organisation familiarize with the new communication and on line collaboration processes that is less easy than you could think facing a large company with a command and control organization.

Playing with the test application decision makers can really understand how a well designed intranet can add value and improve the organisation.

Than decision makers can take into account the key issues to scale the project and build a production environment, namely:

analyze the usage pattern evaluating system logs;
the cost of the infrastructure that depends on :

  • n° of users
  • n° of documents managed and content growth ratio
  • advanced feautures needed such as Document management application or business intelligence application.
  • availability and performance requirements for the system.

Knowing these elements you can plan the farm topology (microsoft names farms the three tier architecture of the system – IIS web server, moss application server, sql server database)

Main Technical feautures:

  • MOSS serves aspx (ASP .NET 3.0 pages) that are customizable with Sharepoint Designer or Visual Studio
  • Shared services such as Excel Calculation Services (for OLAP Cubes), Search and Content Indexing, Project Server Services to integrate Project 2007 server
  • Office Publishing Infrastructure to manage the design and production workflow of content publishing and user experience customisation
  • Integrataion Active Directory or LDAP Authentication provider.
  • Interfaces for Line of business application such as ERP (e.g.)

SWOT Analisys

Choosing a deployement solution mean to take into account Strenght, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats as cost and revenues drivers.

It infrastructure costs from Weakness and Threats to be balanced with some impacts on revenues:

(W) 1,5x – 2x storage;
(W) increased network load;
(W) Hardware Server Farm;
(W) Licences Costs
• (T) increased IT security monitoring;
• (T) system availabilty more critical ;

Revenues

Increased Users Productivity (estimate + 25% – 30%) e fasten project life cycle (estimate +30%)

• (S) office suite integration;
• (S) workflows management;
• (S) less time documents writing and editing;
• (O) legacy system integration);

Lean Organisation

• (S) common template & process adoption;
• (O) social network analisys using statistics;
• (O) Business intelligence;
• (O) Knowledge Management;

Less Cost It Infrastructure

• (S) storage reduction;
• (S) mail server load reduction;
• (S) common template & process adoption;
• (S) increased docuemnt and information availability;
• (O) Document Management;

Conclusions:

Build a a solution for evaluate impact on organisaiton and the value provided is quite easy. Develope and deploy the solution to a production enviroment requires a lot of planning depending on the organisation dimension and needs. Giving a value to the Cost and Revenue driver helps to evaluate the project.
If you IT environment is Windows Based is surely a valuable and scalable solution but planning the architecture and the deployement is the key factor.