A Novice wanting to do more than he knows

I will admit that I am a novice to web-pages etc...however, I want to start an intranet site at our company. I want it to only be accessible from the inside (or people who are connected with a local IP address over the VPN) (or if someone can ensure a secure way of doing it externally, that would be good too)   Basically I want an intranet site that people can click on various links to bring up forms that are fillable on-line & then submit them...then, based on the criteria on the form, they are sent to that person's manager & anyone else interested.  (for example, a new hire form would have a "Region" field, based on the region, when they hit submit, it would send to the regional manager).  Another major thing that I want is the ability to host a company BLOG on this site (if that is possible).  

So, here's what I am thinking:  Windows 2003, use Frontpage 2003's templates & create it...is there any of this stuff that I cannot do with it...is there anything else that I would need.

Can anyone please give me some hints, ideas of software I would need & then any warnings etc.

Thanks!  (remember, I am a novice, so the easier to understand, the better)
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You are on the right track if you are more familiar with Windows than Linux.

Yes, Windows 2003, Internet Information Service and FrontPage extensions. And yes, protecting the intranet based on IP addresses is probably the easist, although you can also use domain authentication security on protected pages and take VPN out of the picture (this is what you call a "secure way of doing it externally").

You might also want to take a look at MS SharePoint and it's web integration and blog capabilities. Pretty much everything that you need for that would come with Small Business Server and MS Office.


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rustyrpageAuthor Commented:
The only problem is that I already have a domain setup, so I cannot do SBS.

I am going to read-up on Sharepoint as that was suggested before...although it seems VERY pricey for what I want to do.  (almost overkill).

The domain authentication sounds like a good idea for external access so that they don't need the VPN.  

Is Linux a cheaper, but just as good of an option?  If I can do a blog & all of the other stuff with Linux & the learning curve isn't TOO high, then I may consider that path.

SBS is just a cheaper way to get licensing for many things like Exchange etc. Technologically it's the same as if you would get the products included in SBS separately.

You don't necessarily need to buy SharePoint, right now a lot of large hosting companies offer a quite economical shared solutions - it really depends on how much integration between your blogging and the domain you need.

Linux is "fiscally" cheaper because most of the stuff is free. Whether your real TCO is going to be lower really depends on the learning curve involved and it's hard to tell how steep is it going to be for you cause I don't know where you are on it right now. One thing that Windows gets right and Linux doesn't is MS Exchange/Outlook. You'll hear a lot of "hype" from Linux zealots about ThunderBird/Shared Calendars/Free Collaboration products/ etc. Right now it really is not up to par with what MS offers. I know tons more about Linux and I think it's vastly superior as a server platform, but Exchange/Outlook is a real killer, and anything comparable available on Linux will be about as pricey or more expensive.

In a nutshell, a small (non-IT related!!!) company with 10-15 workplaces is a lot better off with MS solutions right now. In larger or IT-oriented shops or where you have your own IT dept. and in-house Linux expertise, as your MS licensing fees creep up Linux stats to make sense.
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If all you plan to use SharePoint for is blogging (and it does a lot more), you can just install PHP/MySQL on your IIS web server and use the same blogging solutions available for Linux. Most of them will work fine on windows too.
rustyrpageAuthor Commented:
A little more information may be in need here:

1) We already have Exchange up & running on a cluster farm.
2) We have 5 domain controllers, so Small Business Server cannot be used
3) We are looking for a two piece solution, an Intranet (available from outside with secure login...AD login is good enough) & then a blog that would be a part of the intranet.

I am interested in learning more of what Sharepoint has to offer at such a high price, does anyone know where I can read up on it?
rustyrpageAuthor Commented:
What is the difference between sharepoint services & sharepoint server?

There are a lot of REALLY cool looking tools in that second link that you sent...but I still can't get over the cost of the Sharepoint server!!
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