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Deploying SharePoint Server? Here's a Plan

Microsoft Monday announced a new program for some of its IT services partners whereby it will pay them to provide Software Assurance customers with consulting and deployment services for Office SharePoint Server 2007.

The benefit to IT customers: If you have SharePoint Server 2007 and are a Software Assurance volume licensing customer, then Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will pay partners to provide you with deployment planning services. (Software Assurance is Microsoft's subscription software maintenance program.)

Microsoft describes it as "a new, partner-delivered offering designed to help customers successfully plan their deployment of SharePoint." The new service is available immediately.

Named SharePoint Deployment Planning Services (SDPS), the offering includes certification testing for deployment partners in SharePoint technologies. It also "aggregates all of Microsoft's training, technical, marketing, and sales resources for deploying SharePoint, providing you with a single process to engage with Microsoft to grow your business," according to a statement for partners on the SDPS Center Web site.

Under the new offering, Microsoft said it will reimburse certified partners with "qualified Volume Licensing Software Assurance" customers for providing those customers with deployment planning services for SharePoint Server.

SharePoint Server 2007 is the Web-based document management portal and collaboration component of Microsoft's 2007 Office System. Microsoft officials have said that SharePoint Server has grown so popular that it has become its own $1 billion business.

The SDPS program is designed to increase that popularity and help to make it a business backbone system that customers rely on and, from Microsoft's perspective, be an attractive alternative to Lotus Notes and Domino customers. Given its name, of course, it also tightly integrates with Office 2007.

Among the tools available as part of SDPS are SharePoint deployment plan templates, and architecture design guidance documents, as well as SharePoint server farm deployment guidance.

SDPS certification testing is open to partners with "Microsoft Competencies in Information Worker Portals and Collaboration," "Enterprise Content Management," or "Search specializations," according to company statements.

Microsoft has set up a Web community for SDPS partner participants here. More information regarding Software Assurance is available here.