Microsoft says SharePoint license sales spiked in June

Microsoft Corp. said it sold more than 2 million end-user licenses for its SharePoint Portal Server last month, a dramatic rise in the number of seats purchased for the Web-based collaboration software. In the previous 12 months, according to Microsoft, it sold 5 million SharePoint licenses.

The June sales numbers contrast with recent claims by analysts that the adoption rate has been slow for the knowledge management software sold by both Microsoft and its main rival in the collaboration market, IBM Corp.'s Lotus Software Group subsidiary.

The apparent boom for SharePoint Portal Server came during the last month of Microsoft's fiscal year and preceded the July 31 deadline for users to sign up for the company's new Software Assurance licensing program.

A Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed that the company sold 2.2 million SharePoint Portal Server licenses last month. But Microsoft wouldn't explain the sudden spike in sales, nor would it disclose how many of those licenses were sold as part of enterprise software deals that bundle multiple products together.

There are some compelling reasons to buy into the SharePoint technology in its own right, according to Andre Haroche, CIO at Liberty Travel Inc., a Ramsey, N.J.-based company that operates and franchises travel agencies.

Liberty deployed SharePoint PortalServer software two months ago as a knowledge management tool for its 125-person IT staff. "We actually needed it as a strategic base to our knowledge management system," Haroche said. "It's very easy to install. It's very easy to maintain."

Haroche said a principal motivator for choosing SharePoint was its tight integration with Microsoft's Windows File Explorer software, which lets users access shared files on their corporate networks. Within a month of deploying the software, it was up and running at Liberty and "everybody was using it," he said.

Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is doing a limited test of SharePoint. Jose Machado, development manager for Internet systems at Royal Caribbean, said the cruise line bought 15 end-user and two server licenses for less than $10,000. SharePoint is now running on one server in the company's purchasing department, he said.

"We are not looking at it for any large-scale deployment right now," Machado said. But if the tests go well and Machado can get funding, Royal Caribbean will likely install the software on an intranet for use across the company, he added.

Royal Caribbean plans to rely upon Java-based technology to link its core reservation systems to Web services applications, Machado said. But he said the company will use Microsoft's .Net architecture for other purposes, like corporate portals aimed at employees.

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