A Beginner’s Guide to SharePoint Vocabulary: Part 3–What is SharePoint?

When I first heard about SharePoint, I understood that it was an interactive platform that enabled organizations to share information and collaborate on a large scale. I assumed that it was like any other Microsoft product, where I'd just click an icon on my desktop to open up SharePoint and be on my merry way. 

Unfortunately, SharePoint is not that simple. I wouldn't say that it's hard necessarily, but it is more complicated than just installing one program on your computer. 

So I'm taking what I've learned from my two bibles–Microsoft SharePoint 2007 for Dummies and Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Unleashed–and explaining all of the components that work together to create the end result: SharePoint. Some of these terms were explained in my two previous posts (Part 1 and Part 2), but I'm including the definitions again here too. 

A good way to think about SharePoint is as a group of technologies. In this group, the main component is Windows SharePoint Services (WSS). You can't have any other part of SharePoint if you don't have WSS. 

WSS is an ASP.NET 2.0 Web application. (ASP.NET builds Web applications, and it's used to customize SharePoint.) When you install WSS, you also have to install ASP.NET, which needs several things to run: 

  • IIS version 6 or 7: Internet Information Services is the Web server that hosts SharePoint
  • .NET Framework version 2.0 and 3.0: This software set installs ASP.NET and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). (WF lets users create workflows in applications that are written for Vista, XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems.)
  • SQL Server 2000 or later: Microsoft's database management system
  • and Windows Server 2003 or later: Microsoft's server operating system. 

All of the SharePoint technologies use the services that WSS provides, particularly Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. These services include content management, data storage, security, management, services and more. MOSS builds on these services to provide:  

  • core services like business data catalog, Excel services and personalization
  • application services like dashboards and workflows
  • portals
  • people and personalization
  • and more.

Whew! After I figured all of this out, I didn't feel so bad for being confused all the time; however, I did need a nap. It's a lot to sort out and keep up with, but I hope this outline helps you understand the SharePoint "family" a little bit better.

I'm always open to feedback, so let me know if I've got something completely wrong or if you can offer a better explanation. After all, I'm here to learn too.  


Read the entire Beginner’s Guide to SharePoint Vocabulary series:

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