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MOSS in perfect harmony
There’s a common misconception that Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) and EPiServer CMS are products that are in direct competition. This is far from the case, and I’d really like to explain why because the two can work together to make a fantastic solution.
Firstly, a little history lesson. Before there was MOSS, there were two different Microsoft products – Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 (SPS) and Microsoft Content Management Server 2002 (MCMS). SPS was the Intranet/Portal/Collaboration tool and MCMS was the Web Content Management tool. At the time, MCMS was a direct competitor of EPiServer CMS 4.
Microsoft recognised that SPS and MCMS were essentially about the same thing – publishing content through a browser – and so they combined the features of both in MOSS. Unfortunately, they did not combine them equally.
It is my personal opinion (and one shared by the majority of Content Management professionals that I know) that what actually happened is that SPS was rebuilt as MOSS and then the web-content capabilities were just ‘bolted on’ at the side in order that MCMS could be retired. The publishing aspects had their own namespace and specific UI capabilities. Certainly the license model for MOSS didn’t reflect the market space that MCMS used to operate in.
This has meant that MOSS is now a class-leader in the Intranet/Portal/Collaboration space and, with a bit of effort, is capable of publishing a public-facing website too. It’s capabilities in the WCM space are, however, limited. I would regard it as focused on ‘Information Delivery’ rather than ‘Interaction and Experience’. This is illustrated in the rather infamous (MOSS Wheel) where Content Management is just one part of the pie, and WCM is an even smaller part of that:
This is where EPiServer CMS comes in. Rather than coming from the internally-focused Information Worker space, EPiserver CMS approaches things from the user-centric web. The whole drive of EPiServer CMS is to make generating, maintaining and using an interactive web experience as easy and intuitive as possible. In this way, it does a magnificent job of the one part that MOSS doesn’t really do at all.
The story doesn’t end there though. It isn’t a case of 1+1=2. By using the ability of MOSS and EPiServer to collaborate with each other, you actually get more out of this thing than you put in. For a simple example, you can read my blog post on the EPiServer SharePoint Connector.
If we look at this in a simple feature list, you can see how the products compare. For completeness, I’ve also included the Windows SharePoint Services 3 (WSS) product which is free with Windows Server and provides a subset of the MOSS features (MOSS is actually built on WSS). Note that with customisation you can pretty much achieve anything no matter what your platform, but we’re talking about what features that product is geared to provide:
Paraphrasing the above and using the infamous wheel, I’d picture it something like this,with information flowing freely between around the Enterprise:
(if you want a high resolution copy of this image, let me know)
EPiServer and MOSS are not designed to do the same thing – they are designed to do what they do and do it very well. By harnessing the power of both in your solution you get the best of both worlds combined into a market-leading combination.
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