Dealing with the Project Server 2010 technology stack

lgo_msp2003_medIt’s called “The Stack” over at Microsoft.  It refers to the layers of technology that are required to get the Microsoft EPM functional.  For those who only have experience with Project Desktop this will sound unfamiliar.  After all, what’s to know?  You put the DVD in the box, you hear a whirring sound.  When it’s over the DVD pops out and you start entering tasks in Project. 

 If only Project Server were that simple. 

Microsoft made the decision years ago to leverage the  different technologies that Microsoft produces for its server products.  When we’re asked to deploy the Microsoft EPM “Solution” for Project 2007, here are the Microsoft Products we need to think about:

Windows Server
Internet Information Services (IIS)
Active Directory
SQL Server
SQL OLAP Services
SQL Reporting Services
Microsoft Office
SharePoint Services (WSS) or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS)
Project Professional
Project Server
Project Web Access (PWA CALs)
Portfolio Server
Portfolio CALs

That’s pretty much been the list since Project Server was first introduced and later when Portfolio Server was introduced.  With Project 2010, we know the list will change a little:

Windows Server
Internet Information Services (IIS)
Active Directory
Exchange Server
SQL Server
SQL OLAP Services
SQL Reporting Services
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2010 is now required
Project Professional
Project Server
Project Web Access (PWA CALs)

At first glance the list doesn’t seem that different.  The Portfolio Server license is now woven into Project Server and a new option for Exchange Server is added.  But, let’s take a peek below the hood.

In Project 2010 you will need MOSS.  The Project team is leveraging technology available only in MOSS so it’s not an option and the option to use Windows SharePoint Services is discontinued.  Ok, that may have an impact on your licenses or perhaps not but lets think about the impllications.

SharePoint is the fastest growing server product in Microsoft’s history.  A large number of organizations have adopted the platform in its 2007 incarnation.  Let’s imagine that you’ve *just* finished deploying SharePoint 2007 and now Microsoft comes along to explain how great Project Server 2010 will be.  But, in order to take advantage of Project Server 2010, you had to adopt “the Stack”.  That means you’ll need to upgrade your SharePoint from 2007 to 2010.  That may be quite a challenge.  You might have extensive customizaiton in SharePoint 2007 that would have to be migrated.  You might have applications that only work with SharePoint 2007 and not yet with SharePoint 2010 or that might have to be upgraded themselves to work with the new SharePoint. 

Only a version ago, Project Server was viewed as the vanguard; the product that would “pull-through” technologies like SharePoint into the organization.  Now, however, that same link may have organizations think twice about going to the new technology because of the platform they’ve adopted.

Interestlingly I had a conversation about this just last week with my friends at Occam who have been doing Project Server hosting for years.   Hosting the new technology might be an attractive solution for many project offices who are keen for the new technology.  It has been attractive for a minority of users thus far, but if going to a hosted model eliminates the challenge of confronting “the Stack” then it may well be attractive when Project Server 2010 hits the streets next year.