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Hi I met an investor who wants a new product to sells to other companies. We agreed to make it SaaS, but we're arguing over three options:

  • SaaS product made by ASP.NET
  • Saas product Made up of huge SharePoint server
  • SharePoint add-on (as group of solutions/web parts)

I can't disclose the product exactly, but, it is about collaboration and involves many interaction between users. That is the reason why we have SharePoint as an option, also because a user might optionally create web pages (single home page).

Some users dont want SaaS. There is possibility of hosting the product at a company server (some want their 'sensitive' data hosted locally).

So my question is: which one would you choose as SAAS with ability to make it a locally hosted solution (without losing your code of course).

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

+1 to James. I want to add to it, too. While SharePoint does a great job with security and collaboration, since this will be customer-facing you should take a good look at whether the collaboration features meets your requirements. For example, the discussion threads are great for an intranet environment, but they do not look and feel like discussion board software people may be used to using on other web sites. So be prepared to do a lot of customization (especially of the user interface), but that may be ok. As a platform, SharePoint excels -- particularly in a service-oriented environment.

If you go with SharePoint, you almost have to build your product for SharePoint Foundation so that you can keep your customers' total costs low (SharePoint CALs, SQL Server, hardware, etc). You'll want to build friendly user interfaces for managing permission, allowing your users to create their own pages, and other provisioning tasks -- or provide rock-solid documentation on how to do it out of the box with SharePoint. With SharePoint, you should use features and Web Parts to deploy your code either way , whether SaaS or on-premise. That will make it easier to deploy and upgrade.

I've been keeping an eye on the Orhard Project for use in projects like I think you're describing (without more details it's hard to say). I'm not sure that it is ready yet, but if you can find a forum related to that product, it may be worth asking there also. My opinion is that it is more like a WordPress than a SharePoint. There will apparently be modules that can be added on to maybe do some of the things you need.

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SharePoint will simplify many user-oriented requirements you may have - such as authentication, permissions control and personalised areas (with MySites).

With regards to any other features of SharePoint which may simplify your development, it's difficult to say without any further details of general requirements.

If some of your customers do want on-premise SharePoint, the running costs multiply by a factor of 10 (depending on farm requirements), as they will probably need far more powerful server hardware in order to support their application (with the ongoing maintenance costs of this), as well as their own client end user support for day to day issues.

SharePoint isn't a perfect solution for everything, but 2010 does have multi-tenancy features to let you sell a product as a SaaS solution for multiple customers and your mentioning of the requirement for interaction and collaboration between users does call SharePoint as a viable platform for your product.

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