Community Server and Sharepoint v3

I have been pursuing an online means to support the small groups at the church I go to.  I’ve been digging around and have found two different means to do it.

 My first thought was to have the sites done with Sharepoint.  Version 3’s capabilities FAR outstretch the previous version.  It’s really quite impressive.  Sharepoint, for those that might not know, is a free download for the Server 2003 OS. 

 However, that’s where the free stops.  If you want to publish the site to the world, and have a LOT of named persons actually be able to contribute to the site and manage it without an administrator being involved, you have to have a CAL (Client Access License) for each user. 

That might not be a big deal for an intranet, since presumably, all of your users will already have a CAL.  HOWEVER, to publish it to the web for the world, it looks like there is something called an External Connector which allows the log-in process to write the users to AD.  The retail price on this that I have seen is about $8,000.  That was quite surprising.

It didn’t end there however.  In order to use SQL Server 2005 as a back end, each named user must also have a CAL to access the DB.  The way around this is to get a Processor license for SQL.  I think the pricing on this is about $6,000.  I didn’t actually look that up. 

After the sticker shock on the first one, I just couldn’t bear to look it up.  Perhaps when Microsoft releases these to the world the prices will come down. 

Community Server has pretty much the same limitations.   The external connector is required for Server 2003 and the processor license is needed for the SQL implementation.

I should probably mention that the number of users for the system is anticipated to be several hundred if not a couple of thousand.

For smaller sites, it might not be that big of a deal.

I contacted Telligent to confirm that this was the case and got an answer back from Rob Howard who seemed to confirm that the licensing I described was correct.

I’ve spent some time pondering it and thought of a couple of answers.  Use an Open Source DB.  I’m not sure this would be as hard as it seems.  I’ve not used any of them before, but $8,000 is a pretty good incentive to do so.  Community Server releases their source code so perhaps this might be viable to do.

The other idea I had was to limit the users to 10-20 subdivisions and have the access through these.  The problem with this, as I understand it, is that I would lose control of the granular access to sites.  I could have a group of administrators, but they would be able to control ALL the sites, not just their own.  This might be a viable option, as 20 CALS would be a lot cheaper than an External Connector.

I also have a copy of SUSE Linux 10 and will be looking into Open Source packages with similar functionality.  If you happen to read this and know of one, I’d love to hear about it.

I’d like to get a file repository, blogs, wiki, calendar, pictures and have the option to add more.  If each of these components had an RSS feed, that would be outstanding.

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