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My employer has started making investment into SharePoint 2010, however that investment falls short when it comes to actually training staff! I'm a developer at the moment, but I'm unsure whether I'd like to look at administration or development, it would be good to learn a bit about all of it. Yes I know it's a beast!

So I would like to find out how it is possible to learn more about SharePoint 2010 at home. Obviously the list of software required to use enterprise functionality is quite a lot. I imagine an MSDN license would take care of it, but that is a very significant outlay for an individual.

Failing the MSDN license, another alternative be using proper Windows Server 2008 license, a SQL Server developer license (which is affordable), but then there is the still the SharePoint License, Office Licenses too etc.

Failing that there are the 120/180 day evaluation licensed downloads, but I imagine that would start to be become a problem?

Anyway I hope you get the picture from that.

So what is the most affordable way for me to do this?

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7 Answers

If you want to learn the basics ahead of going further, you can start with an installation of Foundation on Windows 7.

This is one example, there are plenty of other good step by step examples: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee554869.aspx

If you've got a good internet plan, you could also download the MS VM for Information Worker: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=27417. These can be used to get familiar with the products too. These are evaluation VM.

If your employer is serious then they should make resources available to you for learning.

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For such an endeavor I would recommend CloudShare. On demand virtual SharePoint environments. It's not free, but much cheaper than setuping your home lab.

Please note: I am not affiliated with this company, just a happy customer.

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It's an expensive exercise. Start with hardware. You'll need a domain server, a database server and a SharePoint server. So you're looking at three machines, probably virtual. Also, you need 64-bit and at least one core each.

Then, each of those machines needs to be running Server 2008. I have no idea how much that would cost. Then there's licenses for SQL and SharePoint and the rest... Not really viable.

You can install a standalone farm on a workstation, but that's going to behave pretty differently from a real production farm, at an infrastructure level at least.

MS provides labs, sort of rental virtual instances that look good. You could also try Office 360 if you only need to do top-level dev.

However I should point out that if your boss is investing in SharePoint and not investing in the skills to maintain it, s/he's taking an awful risk. If your farm comes crashing down, as ours did last Tuesday, you can find yourself up the proverbial creek with a turd for a paddle, as I seem to be at the moment.

P.S: MSDN subscription's pretty cheap when you look at all the licenses you get for your dev and test environments.

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There are very few times you would need to have separate (or even separate VM's) for domain/database/sp server for learning SP IMHO - simple single server installation and you've got 98% of what you need, especially for dev work. –  Ryan Nov 18 '11 at 14:49
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I would use the Evaluation VMs available from MS, however I would also do the following:

  1. save all your development on a separate disk (either network or VM)
  2. Move your databases (content) from the main Virtual Disk to a separate one

That way when the VM times out, you download a new one, readd your virtual disk, configure SQL to look at that and deploy your customisations.

The only real requirement would be that you need something that can run 64bit guest os's such as Virtual Box, HyperV or VMWare.

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Office 365 P1 account is $6/month. It comes with a hosted version of SharePoint. Some features are not available (full trust code, etc) but it is a good way to start playing with it that is easy to get, requires little/no setup, and doesn't require you to buy servers.

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Although if you choose for an Office 365 environment, the development options are limited. I should use the evalutation virtual machines from Microsoft and backup all your SharePoint things on a (local) shared folder.

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