Service Providers: Public Folders vs. Windows Sharepoint Services
During a conversation with Paul Edlund (eQuest), we brought up the topic of the hassles of providing Exchange Public Folders as apart of a Hosted Exchange service offering. Public Folder provisioning (via WebDAV), quota management (Each folder in a PF gets the same quota size as the parent), and security is such a pain in a hosted environment. The Microsoft Hosted Exchange 2003 Solution provides a lot of “workarounds“ that makes Hosting Exchange 2003 as a service, including Public Folder, much easier. But it still doesn't remove the pains found in Exchange (especially public folders) any less annoying.
So my thought is, why not just give customers a Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS) site instead? OK, WSS has it's own set of challenges, but the overall additional functionality is so much better than a Public Folder. As Paul pointed out to me, you can't just drag and drop an email into a Sharepoint site as you can with a Public Folder. OK, I'll accept that as a limitation.
I think the big hold back is integration. Public Folders are right there in Outlook. So the learning curve of where to go is reduced because of its convenience in location and the UI is the same UI as Outlook. I think this can be overcome a bit today. I have some thoughts, but not willing to give my “secrets“ away just yet. ;)
I think in the long run, the Outlook team should think about making Sharepoint sites integrate into Outlook as if it were a “Public Folder.”
Conrad Agramont, Senior Architect, eQuest Technologies, email@example.com