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Sample Windows SharePoint Services Implementations

Some organizations have goals that can be met by implementing Windows SharePoint Services, or simply want to test out the functionality of document libraries and workspaces. There are a number of benefits of starting with Windows SharePoint Services and then, if appropriate, upgrading to SharePoint Portal Server 2003 in the future.

Windows SharePoint Services provides a number of features that can meet the needs of organizations seeking to benefit from innovations in document management and collaboration. It is also a great starting point for organizations with limited budgets that are planning on implementing SharePoint Portal Server 2003 in the future.

Figure 3.1 provides an illustration of Windows SharePoint Services site collections and lists the basic functionality available with these collections.

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 Features available with Windows SharePoint Services site collections.

Using Windows SharePoint Services with WMSDE

The following is a high-level summary of some of the benefits of starting with Windows SharePoint Services and the WMSDE database:

  • Introducing document management and collaboration to the environment—SharePoint site collections can be created to familiarize users with their features and functionality in the areas of document management and collaboration.

  • Minimal hardware costs—Often Windows SharePoint Services is installed on a single Windows Server 2003 system, and it is possible that this server can be performing other duties as well if Windows SharePoint Services is going to be used by a limited number of users.

  • Minimal software costs—Windows SharePoint Services is available as a free download for Windows Server 2003 and can use the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (Windows) (WMSDE), which is also free. While the clients do need valud Windows Server 2003 Client Access Licenses, no SharePoint client access licenses need to be purchased to use this configurtion.

  • No database size limitations—Oddly enough, WMSDE does not have the 2GB size limitation of MSDE (which is the "free" database included with SharePoint Portal Server 2003), nor does it have the limitation of only five concurrent users.

Drawbacks of using Windows SharePoint Services and WMSDE:

  • WMSDE does not support full text search. Figure 3.2 shows a home page from Windows SharePoint Services using WMSDE; note that there is no search bar at all (see circled area in Figure 3.2).

  • Figure 3.2

    Figure 3.2 Windows SharePoint Services home page when using WMSDE database.

  • WMSDE does not support server farms or clustered configurations.

  • The Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 Administration Guide recommends using WMSDE to support only up to 10 websites.

  • WMSDE does not include tools for backing up and restoring the database.

  • The portal level features offered by SharePoint Portal Server 2003, such as audiences, areas, topics, personal sites, shared services, single sign-on, site directory, and user profiles are not available.

Using Windows SharePoint Services with SQL Server 2000

Based on the limitations of the WMSDE database, some organizations choose instead to install Windows SharePoint Services with SQL Server 2000 rather than WMSDE. This provides a more robust installation that can more easily be upgraded to SharePoint Portal Server 2003.

The benefits of starting with Windows SharePoint Services and SQL Server 2000 are as follows:

  • Full text searching is available.

  • Enterprise administration tools are available.

  • Server farms and clustering can be implemented.

  • The upgrade path to SharePoint Portal Server 2003 is easier.

The drawbacks of starting with Windows SharePoint Services and SQL Server 2000 are

  • Additional cost for SQL Server 2000 and licensing.

  • The portal level features offered by SharePoint Portal Server 2003, such as audiences, areas, topics, personal sites, shared services, single sign-on, site directory, and user profiles are not available.

Windows SharePoint Services Server Farms

As the use of Windows SharePoint Services increases, organizations may want to add additional servers, and Windows SharePoint Services allows for some growth by adding additional servers.

In a Windows SharePoint Services server farm configuration, the front-end web servers run IIS and Windows SharePoint Services, whereas the back-end servers run SQL Server 2000. Figure 3.3 shows a sample server farm configuration for Windows SharePoint Services.

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 Windows SharePoint Services sample farm.

The front-end servers could use Microsoft Network Load Balancing (NLB), to direct users to the different servers to better distribute the load, or a third-party load balancing device (such as from Cisco) could be used for more flexibility and performance. In Figure 3.3 no clustering is in place for the back-end servers, so they would house different content databases.

Although a server farm configuration requires additional cost for the server hardware and the operating system software (and additional licenses of SharePoint Portal Server 2003 if it is used), and is more complex to configure, users will benefit from enhanced performance as well as some redundancy. For example, in the two front-end, two back-end scenario, if one front-end crashes due to a failed motherboard, the other one would still be available, so access to the SharePoint sites could still be provided. Likewise, if one of the back-ends went down, the other would still be up and running, and users would be able to access the data it housed. Data from the databases stored on the now unavailable back-end could then be restored to the available system from a tape backup, providing full access.

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