It’s been a long week, and it’s only Monday. It all started with an off-the-cuff
comment. It was of the petty nature, and it certainly wasn’t accurate.
It seems that is usually the case with petty comments.
I was berated for suggesting SharePoint Services as a replacement for our ageing intranet,
and the commenter responded with a quick “SharePoint? Microsoft makes that,
it’ll cost too much. Our current java site works just fine, and it’s free.”
Or something of that nature.
How do you respond to a petty comment? It’s pretty damn hard:
While Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 does cost money for licensing, Windows
SharePoint Services 3.0 (which MOSS is built on) is free. Not free as in speech,
but free as in beer. Always has been.
Java is a terrible language for websites. It’s slow, and none of the developers
in the company know Java. We all program with .NET languages.
The current intranet is running on an AS/400.
The bulk of the stuff we do on our current intranet could very easily be done in SharePoint,
without any development. And, we can also increase productivity with the added
features of team workspaces and free templates for other departments.
The only cost will be in man-hours setting the server up, and migrating content.
Those have been my main arguments since I started working here. We are a Microsoft
shop, but very often choose non-Microsoft products. Hmm…
The main reason we don’t use Microsoft products is cost. Plain and simple.
Ironically, that is also the same reason WHY we use Microsoft products.
We use SQL Server, Windows Server 2008, Active Directory (finally!), IIS, MOSS (soon),
and program in C#. We don’t use office 2007, only Office 2003, some computers
are still on Windows 2000 and XP. Only one computer is running Vista, and two
are running Windows 7. But then again, we are a Not-For-Profit company.
Budgets are tight.
This post is NOT a comment on our current state of technology, because like I said
in a previous post, we do a pretty good job of staying on the cutting edge in a few
This post IS a comment on the people out there who think cost is the only thing to
look at when evaluating a product. For the love of god, STOP bitching about
price. START bitching about quality.
I can’t stand bad software. People don’t pay for good software, but then complain
about its quality. Come on! There is a formula out there that calculates
the cost of a piece of software over time. It takes into account initial cost,
and the cost of the updates that follow. It’s a simple y = mx+b formula.
Now, when you have a higher initial cost, you tend to assume it’s of higher quality.
Put this into the equation, and the number of updates, and the cost to implement these
updates goes down. Over the life of the product, it’s cheaper to go with the
software that is initially more expensive. This is basic business.
What this basic business formula doesn’t show you is the added headaches you get with
crappy software. You tend to end up with silos of systems, and silos of data.
You don’t get integration. This is where the cost sky rockets. Or more
accurately, this is where productivity decreases.
SharePoint Services 3.0 is free. It doesn’t cost anything to use. It’s
easy to use, and integrates with most of our internal systems. I just ruined
my entire argument. Sorta. SharePoint is a quality piece of software,
and over time, it will cost less to use and maintain than any of the other intranet/middleware
applications out there. Most people don’t realize this.
I’ll probably get flack for this one: Most people don’t complain about software
expenses. They complain about Microsoft expenses.
“We give Microsoft too much money, and don’t get enough in return.”
“There must be better software vendors out there than Microsoft that are cheaper.”
“Why bother upgrading; XP Works fine.”
Have you seen the cost of a friggen Oracle license? What about
IBM’s iSeries? Novell’s Groupwise? My jaw dropped when I saw the cost
of these things. I can’t say a single nice thing about Groupwise. It’s
a terrible product. IBM’s iSeries is pretty good, but it’s limited what you
can do with it. Oracle knows databases, but has a higher license cost than a
good chunk of a department’s salary.
Microsoft gets most of our money because it has quality products, at a good price.
Look at a few competing vendors products and compare cost and quality as well as the
ability to integrate across platforms. Revelation is a wonderful thing.
You might think twice before settling on cost.