This seems to be the question lately. It seems everyone I speak to wants to know the answer to this. I have noticed that this answer is different depending on many circumstances. I will highlight a few of these and maybe help you determine a good approach to SharePoint in these uncertain times. So, should I deploy SharePoint 2007 or wait until SharePoint 2010?
First – are you new to SharePoint? This question is important and often overlooked. If you are running an earlier version of SharePoint (WSS 2.0 or SPS 2003) you cannot upgrade to SharePoint 2010. You could move some data into a new 2010 environment, but no supported upgrade path. So this means the answer right away is to deploy 2007 now and plan an upgrade path to 2010 during that planning phase. If you do not care about any of your structure, sites or data in 2003 then it does not matter and you can move on to other scenarios.
Second – Do you have the budget or hardware to support SharePoint 2010? Deploying SharePoint properly is not a cheap project. You should consider plenty of time spent with a consultant planning the deployment and governance of SharePoint not to mention the actual deployment and implementation. If you need to add $30,000+ into your budget for new hardware can you you still afford the project? Let’s not forget that SharePoint 2010 will require all hardware and software (OS and SQL) all to be 64bit. If you are not at this point yet and will not be for a number of years I would suggest getting your hands dirty in SharePoint 2007 for a while and plan an upgrade path to 2010 when you can move to new hardware. This could mean you need time and resources for a SQL upgrade as well.
Third – I am brand new to SharePoint and I have the budget to get all new, supported hardware and software. This is a great scenario and most common. it’s also the hardest to answer. It may seem that if you can you should, right? Not always in the case of SharePoint. SharePoint is not like any other Microsoft application. It’s a living, breathing application with a lot of flexibility and almost limitless possibilities. SharePoint 2010 does offer some great advantages over 2007, but that does not mean you should hold off and jump right into 2010. Why?
SharePoint 2007 was highly adopted and shared within the SharePoint community. The thing about those heavily into SharePoint is that they love to..well…Share. So this means you can find just about anything you want to do or an answer to almost every issue out there with SharePoint 2007. You can buy plenty of prebuilt solutions and addons. SharePoint 2010 will get there, and is even starting off with far more documentation than 2007 had at this stage, but it will take some time.
So to make this answer shorter and clearer – I would recommend diving into SharePoint 2007 using all the supported hardware and software for 2010 and get the basics built out and define a true strategy to your business goals for SharePoint first. You will also spend less money on a SharePoint 2007 expert than on a SharePoint 2010 expert at this stage in the game. In fact I would be cautious of anyone that calls themselves as SharePoint 2010 expert at this point. Myself and many other friends and colleagues have been using SharePoint 2010 since June of 2009. We are not at the level to call ourselves experts. We can take what we know of 2007 and incorporate it with what we know of 2010, but we are far from being the experts and so is everyone else that is not on the Microsoft Product Team.
Small Business – So smaller companies have more of an opportunity to jump right into SharePoint 2010. If you have not been into SharePoint yet and are a smaller <100 user company that has the supported hardware and software you might be just fine getting a consultant to help you plan out your deployment for a day or two and go right into SharePoint 2010. Medium and Large businesses should really look at all angles before jumping straight into 2010 at this point.
While this does not answer all of the questions you may have it should get you thinking a little about how you should approach your SharePoint future.
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