1 Microsoft Communications Sector Partner Solution Case Study Delivering Collaborative Application Services as a Hosted Service Offering Overview Country or Region: United States Industry: Hosting Partner Profile Based in Wilmington, Delaware, SharePoint Hosting has been hosting a reliable and affordable Windows SharePoint Services offering since The company supports more than 300 customers around the world. Business Situation Employees in smaller organizations need to share information and work together even when they may not be physically close to one another, but rarely do they have an infrastructure that supports this need. Solution SharePoint Hosting saw an opportunity to support small and mid-sized organizations by offering outsourced collaboration, task management, and contextual document management services based on Windows SharePoint Services. Benefits SharePoint Hosting can offer: Well-priced, reliable, and full-featured business applications A platform for growth and performance What Microsoft has delivered in the new version of Windows SharePoint Services is an order of magnitude better than any of the Web 2.0 derivative services that are out there. Larry Strange, President and Chief Executive Officer, SharePoint Hosting Research from IDC indicates that information workers spend more than 25 percent of their time searching for information. And it s no wonder: Research from Gartner indicates that 80 percent of the digitized information in an organization resides on individual hard disk drives. Smaller organizations are particularly challenged by this problem. They frequently lack the resources to create a business application-oriented collaboration infrastructure that could facilitate access to this information. For this reason, SharePoint Hosting, a Wilmington, Delaware-based hosted application service provider, decided to offer a hosted service aimed at meeting this need for collaboration, task management, and contextual document management services. Based upon Windows SharePoint Services, SharePoint Hosting provides the infrastructure and support that small organizations lack, and makes it available at a price they can afford.
2 I could see that Windows SharePoint Services would be a great tool for collaborative business services and a great platform for the delivery of such services by a hosting service provider. Larry Strange, President, SharePoint Hosting Situation The ability for people to work together effectively is critical to the success of any organization. Individuals throughout an organization need to access common information, such as a corporate policy manual, price sheet, or list of customer contact information. Small groups within an organization have even more specific requirements to capture and share information about attendees for an upcoming event, for example, or to list and track the completion of all the tasks that remain to be done in preparation for the event itself. Large organizations have any number of tools and technologies to help their people work together effectively, but small to mid-sized organizations often do not. The technologies exist, but these smaller organizations frequently lack the budgets and the IT resources to support these tools. Larry Strange, the founder of SharePoint Hosting, understood that these challenges also presented an opportunity. Strange was familiar with the capabilities of Windows SharePoint Services as the foundation for business applications. He could also see the economic benefits for small organizations of spreading the cost of hardware, software, and support services among many organizations. And when Microsoft introduced the Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) which would enable his company to offer a hosted service to customers on a monthly, per-user basis, instead of requiring them to purchase a full license upfront he saw a business model that he simply could not pass up. Hosting was not yet the thriving marketplace that it is today, says Strange, but I could see that Windows SharePoint Services would be a great tool for collaborative business services and a great platform for the delivery of a such services by a hosting service provider. Solution Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 is technology in Windows Server that offers an integrated portfolio of collaboration and communication services designed to connect people, information, processes and systems both within and beyond the organizational firewall. It has been designed for easy implementation by hosted service providers like SharePoint Hosting, which can quickly and cost-effectively deploy a customer site designed to meet their needs for collaboration and lightweight business applications. Windows SharePoint Services includes 41 application templates and that number is growing tailored to address the needs and requirements of specific business scenarios, such as project management, document management and collaboration, business process management, customer relationship management, campaign management, and incident management, among others. These templates can solve many business needs right out of the box; they can also be customized with tools such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 and the Microsoft Visual Studio development system, enabling a customer or developer to build even more sophisticated, Microsoft ASP.NET based solutions with Windows SharePoint Services. Today, SharePoint Hosting supports more than 300 organizations around the world with a hosted service based on Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. It relies on an infrastructure built on shared Dell PowerEdge 2850 servers running the 64-bit edition of the Windows Server 2003 operating system. Each server relies on one or more 64-bit processors from Intel and is configured with 12 gigabytes (GB) or more of memory and 1 terabyte of shared storage. SharePoint Hosting supports its Windows SharePoint
3 SharePoint Hosting knows everything about Windows SharePoint Services, so it makes sense for us to rely on their service.we know our data is safe and it s always available. Sharon Pritchett, Director of Incubator Operations, Science Center Services offering with database services built on the 64-bit edition of Microsoft SQL ServerTM It manages and monitors its Philadelphia-based data center using key members of the Microsoft server product portfolio, including Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager SharePoint Hosting offers its outsourced Windows SharePoint Services on a 30-day nocost trial basis. Customers that opt to continue using the service pay U.S.$29.95, U.S.$49.95, or U.S.$79.95 per month for a Windows SharePoint Services repository of 1 GB, 2 GB, or 3 GB in size. As their reliance on Windows SharePoint Services grows and they need more space to develop, share, and store their materials, customers can acquire additional storage capacity for a monthly fee of U.S.$24.95 per gigabyte. Because SharePoint Hosting offers access to Windows SharePoint Services under the terms of the Microsoft SPLA, there are no upfront software license fees either for SharePoint Hosting or its customers. SharePoint Hosting recompenses Microsoft on a per-processor, per-month basis, and its fees to Microsoft are based on the number of customers using its service during a given month. Features of Windows SharePoint Services include: Document management Team workspaces Shared calendars Shared contact lists Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 also offers more than 40 templates that customers can use to develop collaboration sites designed to serve very specific business purposes, such as event planning, compliance reporting, project tracking, and more Beyond these features, SharePoint Hosting also supports its customers with migration services, a help desk, and an ever-expanding library of online self-service tutorials that customers can access when they have questions about how to accomplish tasks using Windows SharePoint Services. Benefits Windows SharePoint Services and the infrastructure provided by Microsoft server products gives SharePoint Hosting the key components it needs to offer an attractively priced, reliable, full-featured collaboration service to small and mid-sized customers. It helps them overcome multiple business challenges in ways that no other solution does today. Moreover, as a managed hosted service, Windows SharePoint Services has proven easy for SharePoint Hosting to install, configure, administer, and maintain. With its support for 64-bit computing hardware, SharePoint Hosing has been able to deploy Windows SharePoint Services to more customers on each shared server, and with greater performance than ever before. A Well Priced, Reliable, and Full- Featured Business Application Service Windows SharePoint Services enables SharePoint Hosting to provide each customer with the tools its employees need to organize documents, coordinate calendars, manage issues, and participate in discussions. The service can alert users within an organization about required actions or important documentation changes through a variety of creative communication features including announcements, alerts, surveys, discussion boards, and integrated RSS feeds. It includes full featured templates for such Web 2.0 features as blogs and wikis. SharePoint Hosting also makes available to users the Windows SharePoint Services feature that provides read/write access through the Microsoft Office Outlook messaging and collaboration client, so users within an
4 We let people discover how Windows SharePoint Services can work for them by letting them use it themselves, and we find that once they dip their toes in that water, they're swimming within a week. Larry Strange, President, SharePoint Hosting organization can view discussions and documents as Outlook folders. Tasks, contacts, and calendars can also be synchronized between Windows SharePoint Services and Outlook. Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 supports offline synchronization capabilities and mobile functionality, enabling an organization s users to share and manage information at their convenience. This is a competitive environment, says Strange, and there are any number of service providers out there that are offering Web 2.0 derivative services. Each of those services constitutes a subset of what Windows SharePoint Services brings to the table. Indeed, what Microsoft has delivered in the new version of Windows SharePoint Services is an order of magnitude better than any of the Web 2.0 derivative services that are out there. I can put Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 up against any Web 2.0 service and Windows SharePoint Services would come out on top and our customers see this. When people see and understand what Windows SharePoint Services brings to the table in comparison to other services, they realize that Windows SharePoint Services provides a roll-up of many of these individual services, and that s quite compelling. Effective Solution for Demanding Business Users Consider the experience of the University City Science Center, a customer of SharePoint Hosting. The Science Center is a Philadelphiabased organization that finds, forms, funds and manages early stage life sciences and technology companies, accelerates their commercialization, and provides the infrastructure and community they need to flourish. Sharon Pritchett is Director of Incubator Operations, and she routinely exchanges information with all the different groups supporting the Science Center operations infrastructure from accounting and operations teams to the commercialization and real estate teams. She is also in close contact with the fledgling companies that the Science Center supports. Pritchett rarely sits still because these teams are located in multiple locations on a sprawling urban research campus, and she can be difficult to reach at any given moment. Therefore, Science Center personnel in search of recent documents or forms all turn to a Windows SharePoint Services repository hosted by SharePoint Hosting. Anyone in need of the most current document on any matter related to incubator operations can look in the Windows SharePoint Services repository and find it quickly. And because anyone interacting with the information in the Windows SharePoint Services repository can interact with it using nothing more than a Web browser, it is possible to interact with that information from any device and from any location that can access the Internet. So why does the Science Center rely on SharePoint Hosting to support this service? Two key reasons: SharePoint Hosting provides a level of expertise around Windows SharePoint Services that the Science Center IT resources cannot match. And SharePoint Hosting provides all the services that the Science Center needs. We have an outside IT staff that supports our network, says Pritchett. They re all Microsoft certified, but they re not versed in Windows SharePoint Services. SharePoint Hosting knows everything about Windows SharePoint Services, so it makes sense for us to rely on their service. They know how to configure, upgrade, and maintain the software; they perform the maintenance, install the updates, and back up the data. We know our data is safe and it s always available. The tutorials are also a big help for us. I ve run into situations where there are things that I don t know how to do with Windows SharePoint Services, and I don t even know how to express what I want to do.
5 They have Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ] sections, though, that address specific solutions, and the tutorial I need usually pops right up and helps me do what I want to do. people discover how Windows SharePoint Services can work for them by letting them use it themselves, and we find that once they dip their toes in that water, they're swimming within a week." A Platform for Growth and Performance Enthusiasm for the SharePoint Hosting hosted Windows SharePoint Services offering is running high. The company began offering trial services based on Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 in December of 2006, and within four months it had doubled the number of SharePoint sites on its servers. More than 40 percent of those organizations that try the service convert to SharePoint Hosting subscribers and once they become paying customers, they tend to stay paying customers. Larry Strange reports that customer churn is extremely low. The trial offer helps eliminate those customers who don't really want the service; they leave instead of signing on, so those that do sign on really perceive the value of the service and stay with us. Churn is simply not a problem. Nor has this doubling of the number of SharePoint sites been a problem for SharePoint Hosting. With the 3.0 version of Windows SharePoint Services, we were able to move to a pure 64-bit platform for the shared hosting, says Strange. We're running 64-bit versions of Windows Server, SQL Server, and Windows SharePoint Services. That gives us greater performance and greater scalability than ever before. We're handling this surge in business with no problems at all because of the performance and scalability of this platform. Windows SharePoint Services has always brought powerful and compelling business collaboration tools to the table, says Strange, and now it s stronger than ever. The challenge has always been getting people to understand this concept and that's one of the reasons we offer a 30-day trial. We let
6 For More Information For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) Customers who are deaf or hard-ofhearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) in the United States or (905) in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: Microsoft Communications Sector Microsoft Communications Sector delivers integrated, adaptable, comprehensive solutions built on innovative software. These solutions help communications service providers develop, deploy, and evolve customized and differentiated offerings that enhance the user experience. For more information about Microsoft solutions for the Communications Sector, go to: For more information about SharePoint Hosting products and services, call (877) or visit the Web site at: For more information about Science Center services, call (215) or visit the Web site at: Software and Services Microsoft Server Product Portfolio Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Editions Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 Microsoft SQL Server 2005 (64-bit) Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 Technologies Windows SharePoint Services version 3.0 Internet Information Services version 6.0 Hardware Dell PowerEdge 2850 servers with 64-bit Intel processors 2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Microsoft, Outlook, SharePoint, Windows, Windows logo, and Windows Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. Document published March 2007