How much does free cost?
When discussing intranets and website proposals with clients, Microsoft’s Sharepoint 2007 (or 2010) is often cited by the client as an option. Afterall, the argument goes, they already have a licence since they bought xyz business servers some time ago. Well, yes and no. To use your Sharepoint 2010 as an intranet, you require the Client Access Licenses (CALs), which are only included in the Enterprise Agreement from Microsoft.
Often then, clients are surprised to hear that they don’t, in fact, usually have a licence to deploy Sharepoint as an internal website, let alone as a public facing website. The next question is then, ‘How much are the additional licences’?
Well, that’s a difficult question to answer, not least because the answer is dependent on a number of factors, in part upon the client’s relationship with their Microsoft reseller. Licence costs are notoriously opaque. This is not an unusual situation – ask an Oracle customer! However, recent postings have gone some way to letting us bench mark potential costs of using Sharepoint 2010 to power a public facing website.
For a standard licence, the upfront cost is between €5,000-9,500 per server, with a 25% annual Service Assurance (SA) if you want to be able to upgrade, etc. So, for a 3 server farm, on an internal facing website (say intranet), for 1,000 users (for which you need CALs), the upfront, one-off cost would be around £66,000.
For an enterprise licence, the costs are somewhere between €20,000-32,000 per server, plus the 25% annual SA, plus the licence of the FAST search server licence (c. £14, 000). If you do want to deploy more than one server (and you do), then the costs rise accordingly. Bakker suggests that a 3 server farm, for a single public facing domain, would cost in the region of £68,000 (I’m not sure what the costs would be if you wanted to run multiple domains off your Sharepoint 2010 installation).
Suddenly, free has become very expensive! This is of course before you even begin to factor in the other costs (design, development, support, training, etc). The costs can be dramatically reduced using an Open Source solution – the software is usually licence free and the servers tend to be cheaper to purchase and service, and using cloud services can help to reduce costs further.