Questions to ask your SharePoint Hosting Provider

Here’s an article from Kathy Hughes about some of the relevant questions that organisations need to ask their hosting provider if they are looking to host their SharePoint solution with a third party.


General cost / plan structure

Does the host support MOSS platform or do they only support WSS platform?
Does the host offer both standard and enterprise MOSS licensing (enterprise covers things like BDC and Forms Services)?
Is cost based per SSP (Shared Services Provider) and if so then how many Web applications does that include, i.e. are there additional costs (including monthly costs) for each additional Web application?
Is the number of site collections under each Web application unlimited and cost-free?
Lock in period, i.e. 12 months or 24 months?
Initial setup cost?
CAL (client access license) cost/user – monthly cost?
Content storage per plan and bandwidth allowances/limitations?

Administration

What degree of Administrative rights will you have, i.e. access to a Central Administration site, ability to upload custom applications and Web parts, including DLLs and solution files, able to modify the web.config file, standard access for things like SharePoint Designer 2007 customizations, ability for e-mail enabled lists and creation of DL’s within SharePoint sites? If you are limited on accessing things like the 12 Hive (for instance on a non-dedicated server and where you are sharing the server with other customers) does the host have the ability to do that on your behalf, i.e. a technical person and/or team that can help deploy custom solutions?

User management

How does the host handle user accounts and user access, for instance, using a shared AD? Do they allow different authentication providers? Do they have a password reminder Web part/system in place? If you choose to use AD for authentication, what are their AD policies (if any), such as changing passwords every 2-3 months and is there extra cost involved for managing user accounts? Do they offer any ADFS for intranet users, for instance, the client’s existing AD accounts and where the client doesn’t want to have multiple logons and/or user accounts for internal users?

Post-deployment plan upgrades

What are the implications (if any) of you upgrading your plan after the initial deployment, for example, from a MOSS standard license to a MOSS enterprise license? Are there any add-on costs? What if you want an additional SSP, say for geographically dispersed deployments, what will the additional cost be – the same as the first SSP cost?

Backups and restores

What is their backup and restore/redundancy strategy? Are they able to restore individual files and do they have offsite file storage? What are the associated costs for data restoration?

Technical support and expertise

What is the host’s knowledge of both MOSS and WSS like? Do they have a technical team to help deploy any custom solutions (on the proviso they allow custom solutions and don’t allow direct server administrative access, say to a dedicated server)? Do they have a SLA?

Customization

Does the host offer any customization services and if so what are the costs? Does the host offer any additional site templates, such as the Microsoft SharePoint templates? Are there any issues with you editing sites using SharePoint Designer 2007?

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About Brad Saide

I'm a SharePoint consultant. I'm also slowly going bald, seem to have a permanent spare tyre around my waist and enjoy socialising with friends over a beer or 10. The last 2 may possibly be related. Started working with SharePoint when the first version was in limited beta release (participated in the Technology Adoption Program while at Woolworths) and have been committed to the adoption of the technology as a business enabler ever since.
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