What is the difference between SharePoint Foundation and Server? That is a fundamental question anybody looking into using SharePoint should begin with.
A one line answer is that SharePoint Foundation is the core (or foundation) of SharePoint upon which SharePoint Server is built.
Think of SharePoint Foundation as a stripped down car with no power windows or power locks. It is capable of taking you from A to B but that's about it. SharePoint server is a sophisticated add on that can bring a plethora of features and benefits to the whole SharePoint experience.
SharePoint Foundation requires no licensing and is essentially free. There will be hardware, deployment, and other miscellaneous costs, but no licensing costs. That is a huge difference between it and Server.
Foundation provides basic site creation, document collaboration functionality just fine. And just that, is usually what organizations are looking for.
SharePoint Server adds various social, search, business intelligence, content management features to Foundation.
That all depends of course on various things.
If you're on a strict budget with and looking for the document collaboration features around SharePoint only then you may get a way with Foundation. Often times when companies with limited budget want a feature in Server that isn't available, they try to find a workaround around it or build it from scratch.
Server is licensed per server and per CAL (client access license). Those licenses could add up to hundreds and thousands of dollars. If you have a solid business case for SharePoint with a more strategic goal, then SharePoint server is definitely the way to go.
SharePoint Foundation can also be used as an experimental stage for the full SharePoint Server product – a quick taste for the product if you will. Some organizations start with Foundation and upgrade to Server at a later point.
One other option to use the full version of SharePoint without spending too much on server licensing and CALs is to try our hosted SharePoint Server plans.
|SharePoint Server 2013||SharePoint Foundation 2013|
|Social Features (Yammer)||Yes||No|
|Business Data Catalog||Yes||No|
|Custom Site Definitions||Yes||No|
|Email Enabled Lists||Yes||Yes|
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