WSS Isn’t Just For Collaboration

A number of times, people have said that we can solve the problem of confusion around the word “SharePoint” by just getting rid of the word.  For example, we could just have “Portal Server” stand on it’s own, and we could rename WSS “Windows Collaboraiton Services”.  In fact, our own Windows Server team at one point considered creating a server role entitled “Collaboration Server” for the upcoming R2 release of Windows Server 2003 (which will have WSS packaged inside of it).

It’s tempting, but it’s too limiting. Repeat after me:  SharePoint Services is a platform.  The collaboration solution is just something we shipped on top of it.

WSS’ platform is for far more than collaboration.  Is BizTalk Server’s Business Activity Monitor (BAM) collaboration?  No.  Are Microsoft Business Solutions’ various Business Portals collaboration?  No.  Heck, is SharePoint Portal Server collab tech?  No.

For business value audiences, talking about WSS as collaboration technology is fine.  But what WSS really offers you is a way for developing and deploying highly repeatable Web site solutions.  Sites that consume very little incremental overhead.  Sites that are accessible by both smart clients and browsers.  Sites that provide a large set of built-in storage and tool resources.  In other words:  SharePoint sites.  They’re something new (well, new in 2003), and something special.

You can (and should) use SharePoint site technology to build many kinds of applications.  Yes, many problem spaces to which we’re well suited involve collaboration (Visual Studio Team System, Class Server, Project Server, Brightwork, etc.), but to confine our value to collaboration is far too limiting.

Comments (7)
  1. It is refreshing to read this coming from the Microsoft camp. It seems that everytime you mention Sharepoint people immediately think collaboration.

    My team is pushing our department to think of Portal Server as a product for delivering sites. We want our Sharepoint implementation to be just as important of a piece of our technology portfolio as our email system, database system, search system.

    Hearing Microsoft communicate the strength of Sharepoint to it’s customers as a rapid deployment architecture for sites is a welcome bit of news.

  2. Jason D says:

    I would love to see some best practice based on the context of SharePoint (Products and Technologies — going to be hard to convince the SP world to not use SharePoint generically for all of it, SPS and WSS, btw) as an application platform. Like when to use lists as opposed to when to use databases (please, please explain that a dozen lists, all linked by fields is NOT necessarily a good substitute for a well designed database). Or where to put that database — if it is added to the SharePoint content database will it get backed up, and is that even recommended? It’s hard to see where the line should be drawn between WSS (andor SPS) and a business application.

  3. Bil Simser says:

    You are my new best friend.

  4. Is there a possibility to add document level security. Please check my blog for an short description of the problem.

  5. I am a big fan of WSS. However, there are a few things that tends to break my heart.

    The biggest problem is that we create and use .aspx extensively instead of just uploading word documents. However, we noticed that searching does not work for .aspx files.

    I’ve escalated the issue to our core engineering team and the word they got from MS is that it is possible to search them but NOT RECOMMENDED. We have tons of aspx files and now we are told to use word docs instead. Very disappointing…

    I also see it often that whenever we try to make a part of a aspx file colored or bold (play with the format in general), it tends to break the format all over the document. Suddenly I start to see </B> </Font> all over to place and reformating document becomes a nightmare.

    Any plans to address these?

  6. Jim Duncan says:

    Great post!

    I even used SharePoint Team Services as a platform back in the day:

    And for WSS, there’s (a Blog site definition).

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