Microsoft launches SharePoint planning services

Microsoft announced the worldwide availability of a new SharePoint planning and deployment service that is part of Software Assurance

Customers using Microsoft's SharePoint enterprise portal can now get deployment help if they subscribe to the Software Assurance program.

SharePoint Deployment Planning Services is modeled after a desktop planning service that the Microsoft Office team offers, said Kathleen Timiney, director, SharePoint Partners at Microsoft. The company has been conducting a pilot of the program but is launching its worldwide availability now.

Enterprises that take advantage of the service will get deployment planning help, mainly through third-party companies. Microsoft is offering training and certification for its partners and will help match up customers with the trained third-party consultants. Microsoft pays the third-party partners for their work.

Customers who buy into the Software Assurance maintenance offering get phone support, training and IT tools that help with deployment and management of their software.

SharePoint is the fastest growing server product in Microsoft's history, according to company Chairman Bill Gates, who spoke earlier this year at the annual SharePoint conference. Microsoft expects to have sold 100 million licenses in its year ending in July, he said.

The demand for SharePoint grew faster than Microsoft expected, Kurt DelBene, senior vice president at Microsoft, said at the time. In response, Microsoft ramped up customers support and developed the deployment services program, he said then.

Still, Microsoft is trying to encourage existing SharePoint customers to expand the use of the software beyond individual independent groups within enterprises. "Companies should adopt it as a horizontal tool. They should let sites spring up in a broad fashion," Gates said at the conference.

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