When we began P12, we started with thinking how we could improve performance and scalability, move Project Server extensibility to a "standard" Microsoft toolset, and take some of the complexity out of configuring Project Server farms. After about 6 months of planning work, the Proj team was reorganized into a larger Office team with WSS (Windows SharePoint Services), SharePoint Portal Server, and CMS (Content Management Server). The new organization gave us a chance to look at how we could share development resources and deliver a consistent IT professional experience across the Office servers. While I think P12 has a ton of cool, new functionality, I suspect that the shared components across the Office servers will have one of the biggest impacts on readers of this blog.

So, what do I mean by "shared components":

1. First, Project Web Access is now built on WSS. Specifically, PWA is a site collection on a WSS virtual server. This means that WSS MUST be installed on every Project Server. From an extensibility perspective, this means that PWA is made up of bunch of webparts that can be mixed and matched with webparts from WSS, SPS, and other Office servers. We are looking hard at supporting cross-part communication. Aside from the usability gains (customizing the PWA UI is no different than customizing WSS or SPS), extending the PWA UI will be much more like working WSS or SPS.

2. Project Server and the other Office servers leverage shared setup and configuration management. This allows you to define UI servers and application servers in a server farm, with load-balancing within each tier. You can use a single web-based console to manage the entire farm and selectively turn features on for any server within the farm. This simplifies managing a Project Server farm AND really simplifies managing a farm with (for example) SharePoint Portal Server and Project Server.

Note: This does NOT mean that core project data is stored in the WSS content database. Project Server 12 has a very rich set of application services which interact with our own db.

3. Project Server and the other Office servers share authentication; specifically we leverage the new Whidbey (.Net Framework 2.0) authentication providers. So far, we support AD, ADFS, and SQL (forms-based) providers. This means that you can turn on forms-based auth and it will work across Project Server AND WSS. This should be good news for folks who may have deployed NDS (Novell Directory Services).

4. Project Server and the other Office servers share monitoring services. Project Server will ship with a new monitoring technology (ULS) that supports unified logging across a server farm for all the Office servers running in a farm.

These changes (as well as others in this area) have added up to quite a bit of development work. I think that the investment will pay off in the short- and long-term. We (Proj team) can concentrate on application services rather than building common platform services (like configuration management). Customers and partners are able to learn ONE set of IT Pro tools across all the Office servers.