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More than you needed to know about WSS 3.0 in HMC

August 20, 2009
 ….Those who know the history of HMC, will probably remember that it has a humble beginning, it started with Hosted Exchange as the core. Eventually, as some of the other products become more matured and calls for more communication and collaboration tools, it evolves into HMC where it allows service providers to offer more than just Hosted Exchange but also allow them to complete their offerings with Windows SharePoint Services Hosting, Hosted Office Communication Server and etc.


The word ‘Hosted’ or ‘Hosting’ somehow seems to mean ‘complicated’ to many people and HMC to a lot of people is like a black box. The fact is, there is really nothing difficult about it. It sounded difficult because not many has experience in configuring a product to cater for hosting or multi-tenant environment.


Here, I intend to highlight a couple of areas on a very high-level to clarify how and what HMC 4.5 has introduced to allow multi-tenancy for Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0.


What is multi-tenancy and what does it mean to WSS?


From Wikipedia, "Multitenancy refers to a principle in software architecture where a single instance of the software runs on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor’s servers, serving multiple client organizations (tenants)."


In the context of WSS, it means a single instance of WSS infrastructure will be able to cater for multiple companies, organizations or tenants. The question here is, "How can host multiple companies in the same infrastructure and at the same time ensuring that they are completed isolated?"


From a very high level, here is what HMC intends to achieve,


·         Site Isolation – Each company should only be allowed to see and access their own site. It must able to cater for different domain-named sites, such as http://sharepoint.alpineskihouse.com, http://teamsite.contoso.com instead of everyone having a common site name like http://www.serviceprovider.com/sites/<sitename&gt;


·         Site Administration Isolation – Each company should only be allowed to manage their own site


·         User Isolation – Each company should only see their own users.


With the objectives above, let’s take a closer look.


What is HMC doing to WSS for Hosting?


At a high level, nothing (Hooray, I can stop writing now!). Unlike with Hosted Exchange where HMC introduces various tweaking to make things work, WSS 3.0 is actually reasonably well designed in this aspect. All the features and functions are readily available in WSS to cater for multi-tenancy. All HMC really need to do is to make the right call to create the SharePoint sites


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