I got SharePoint for Free, now what?

 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ben Henderson is Manager of Sevices at Colligo Networks. Follow him @ben3003

2013-03-18-SPForFree-01.jpgI read a SharePoint Pro blog post earlier this year, “We Bought SharePoint-Now What?” and it got me thinking, people actually pay for SharePoint?

How do they pay for it?

Do they pay in the time it takes up trying to deploy the software? Do they pay in the amount of time it takes to get end users up to speed? Do they pay for the hardware needed to run SharePoint, or the cloud service of choice? Do they pay for the customization needed to get the software to meet the business requirements? Do they pay for the 3rd party tools that allow them to integrate the software into their environment? Do they pay for the training that end users need?

I remember when SharePoint was free.

If the customer was even slightly sitting on the fence with whether to go for SharePoint or another solution, it seemed like Microsoft would just remove the price tag. Also with the amount of MSDN licenses out there , it’s also got plenty of installations from people just testing the software. But those people are still paying for SharePoint and will no doubt go on paying more and more as time goes on.

What would happen if you didn’t pay?

There are companies out there running the free version of SharePoint, no customizations, and no hardware plan. In fact it’s usually on an old desktop machine under somebodies desk and has grown organically through the organization, as people understand the potential. This is OK though, as it grows people start adopting when they feel like it, not when they are told. When they have a spare Friday afternoon they will look into it and learn it at their pace, if they want to.  The main issue with this (and there are many more) is that it will end up as another system that people can use. It will sit in a bucket with DropBox, File Shares, Box.net, OpenText, and will die a death with only some users using it, and no support from IT or the business to invest in support and maintenance of it.

So back to the blog title, “I got SharePoint Free, now what?”, it’s fair to say you best get your wallet out if you want SharePoint to be even close to a useful business tool.

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