Archive for SharePoint

SharePoint 2010 – Get the Full Story

With the upcoming release of SharePoint 2010 "The business collaboration platform for the Enterprise and the Web", Microsoft is hoping to accelerate the already dramatic growth of SharePoint. The SharePoint partner ecosystem is clearly excited, and even sceptics agree it is a major release. But how do you decide whether SharePoint is right for you, or which parts of SharePoint could meet your needs, either on their own or in conjunction with other enterprise applications? Should you use it for collaboration? for search? and what about web content management – a major focus of SharePoint 2010?

With SharePoint 2010 just entering public beta and scheduled for release in the first half of the year, it is time to make sure you know what its capabilities are so you can make informed near term or strategic decisions. And, you need to get the full story, and the way to do this is to see it for yourself, and talk to sceptics, evangelists, and people already using it for applications similar to yours.

Whether you are attending the full conference or just visiting the technology demonstrations at Gilbane Boston, you will be able to learn what you need to know. Get the full story on SharePoint 2010 for content management at Gilbane Boston:

SharePoint – Migrating the Office Franchise to the Web

Microsoft has a lot to lose if they are unable to coax customers to continue to use and invest in Office.  Google is trying to woo people away by providing a complete online experience with Google Docs, Email, and Wave.  Microsoft is taking a different tact.  They are easing Office users into a Web 2.0-like experience by creating a hybrid environment, in which people can continue to use the rich Office tools they know and love, and mix this with a browser experience.  I use the term Web 2.0 here to mean that users can contribute important content to the site. 

SharePoint leverages Office to allow users to create, modify, and display "deep[1]" content, while leveraging the browser to navigate, view, discover, and modify "shallow[1]" content.  SharePoint is not limited to this narrow hybrid feature set, but in this post I  examine and illustrate how Microsoft is focusing its attention on the Office users.  The feature set that I concentrate on in this post is referred to as the "Collaboration" portion of SharePoint.  This is depicted in Microsoft’s canonical six segmented wheel shown in Figure 1.  This is the most mature part of SharePoint and works quite well, as long as the client machine requirements outlined below are met.

 

 Figure 1: The canonical SharePoint Marketing Tool – Today’s post focuses on the Collaboration Segment

Preliminaries:   Client Machine Requirements

SharePoint out-of-the-box works well if all client machines adhere to the following constraints:

  1. The client machines must be running Windows OS (XP, Vista, or WIndows 7)
    NOTE: The experience for users who are using MAC OS, Linux, iPhones, and Google phones is poor. [2]
  2. The only truly supported browser is Internet Explorer (7 and 8.) [2]
    NOTE: Firefox, Safari, and Opera can be used, but the experience is poor.
  3. The client machines need to have Office installed, and  as implied by bullet 1 above, the MAC version of Office doesn’t work well with SharePoint 2007.
  4. All the clients should have the same version of Office.  Office 2007 is optimal, but Office 2003 can be used.  A mixed version of Office can cause issues.
  5. A number of tweaks need to be made to the security settings of the browser so that the client machine works seamlessly with SharePoint. 

I refer to this as a "Microsoft Friendly Client Environment."

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[1] The terms "deep" and "shallow" are my creation, and not a standard.  By "deep" content I am referring to the complex content such as a Word documents (contracts, manuscripts) or Excel documents (complex mathematical models, actuarial models, etc…)

[2] Microsoft has addressed this by stating that SharePoint 2010 would support some of these environments.  I am somewhat skeptical. 

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The SharePoint Backend- What are the Headaches – What are the benefits

As I pointed out in my first post (SharePoint: Without the Headaches – A Discussion of What is Available in the Cloud,) you don’t necessarily need to host SharePoint in your own organization.  Although I believe that most businesses should focus on leveraging the front end of SharePoint to its full extent, it is important for non-technical users to have an understanding of what it takes to host SharePoint and why one might want to do so.  Therefore, this post provides a discussion of what it takes to host SharePoint and the driving factors for hosting SharePoint.

 

Microsoft’s original intent was to build a tool that was easy to leverage by non-technical users.  Microsoft thought of this as the natural extension of Office to the web[1].  That being said, the complexities got away from Microsoft, and in order to leverage a number of features one needs access to the back end.

Before delving into the SharePoint back end, let me point out that many businesses hire SharePoint development staff, both permanent and on a consulting basis. I think that developing custom SharePoint code should be done only after thoroughly justifying the expense.  It is often a mistake.  Instead, organizations should clearly define their requirements and then leverage a high quality third party add-on.  I will mention some of these at the end of the post.

SharePoint is a fragile product and therefore custom code for SharePoint is very expensive to develop, test, and deploy. Furthermore, custom code often needs to be rewritten when migrating to the next release of SharePoint.  Finally, SharePoint is a rapidly growing product, and chances are good that custom code may soon become obsolete by new features in the next generation.

In my first post, I pointed out that inexpensive SharePoint hosting options are available in the cloud. These options tend to be limited.  For example, the inexpensive rentals do not provide much security, only provide WSS (not MOSS), and do not allow one to add third party add-ins.  It is possible to lease custom environments that don’t surrender to any of these limitations, but they come at a cost.  (Typically starting at $500 per month[2].)  I believe that robust MOSS offerings with third party add-ons will be available at competitive prices within two years. 

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[1] SharePoint is developed by the Office division.

[2] For example, FPWeb offers a SharePoint hosted environment with the CorasWorks Workplace Suite included starting at $495 per month.

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Enterprise 2.0 Conference Predictions

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference begins this evening in Boston. Conference organizers indicate that there are approximately 1,500 people registered for the event, which has become the largest one for those interested in the use of Web 2.0 technologies inside business organizations.

The most valuable part of last year’s conference was the case studies on Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) from early adopter organizations like Lockheed Martin and the Central Intelligence Agency. They presented an early argument for how and why Web 2.0 could be used by businesses.

Here are some things that I anticipate encountering at the E2.0 Conference this year:

  • a few more case studies from end user organizations, but not enough to indicate that we’ve reached a tipping point in the E2.0 market
  • an acknowledgement that there are still not enough data and case studies to allow us to identify best practices in social software usage
  • that entrenched organizational culture remains the single largest obstacle to businesses trying to deploy social software
  • a nascent understanding that E2.0 projects must touch specific, cross-organizational business processes in order to drive transformation and provide benefit
  • a growing realization that the E2.0 adoption will not accelerate meaningfully until more conservative organizations hear and see how other companies have achieved specific business results and return on investment
  • a new awareness that social software and its implementations must include user, process, and tool analytics if we are ever to build a ROI case that is stated in terms of currency, not anecdotes
  • that more software vendors that have entered the E2.0 market, attracted by the size of the business opportunity around social software
  • a poor opinion of, and potentially some backlash against, Microsoft SharePoint as the foundation of an E2.0 solution; this will be tempered, however, by a belief that SharePoint 2010 will be a game changer and upset the current dynamics of the social software market
  • an absence of understanding that social interactions are content-centric and, therefore, that user generated content must be managed in much the same manner as more formal documents

So there are some of my predictions for take-aways from this year’s E2.0 conference. I will publish a post-conference list of what I actually did hear and learn. That should make for some interesting comparison with today’s post; we will learn if my sense of the state of the market was accurate or just plain off.

In the meanwhile, I will be live-tweeting some of the sessions I attend so you can get a sense of what is being discussed at the E2.0 Conference on the fly. You can see my live tweets by following my event feed on Twitter.

Gilbane San Francisco pre-conference workshops posted

The main conference program will be published in a week or two, but the 1/2 day pre-conference workshop descriptions for June 2nd have been posted at: .
How to Select a Web Content Management System
Instructor: Seth Gottlieb, Principal, Content Here
Making SharePoint Work in the Enterprise
Instructor: Shawn Shell, Principal, Consejo, Inc.
Managing the Web: The Fundamentals of Web Operations Management
Instructor: Lisa Welchman, Founding Partner, Welchman Pierpoint
Getting Started with Business Taxonomy Design
Instructors: Joseph A. Busch, Founder and Principal, & Ron Daniel, Principal, Taxonomy Strategies LLC
Sailing the Open Seas of New Media
Instructor: Chris Brogan, President, New Marketing Labs, LLC

More on SharePoint for ECM

Note: You can now view a recording of the Webinar on SharePoint and ECM.
I wrote a couple of days ago about the growth of SharePoint licensing and the impressive footprint it has in terms of end user licenses. One of the other intriguing things about SharePoint is how it has evolved in functionality. True to form, Microsoft first launched SharePoint as a sturdy but not overwhelming offering. Since then, they have built more and more functionality into the product, all the while bringing partners and developers into the mix to create a formidable ecosystem for the product.

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SharePoint for ECM?

Microsoft SharePoint is a force in the content management market. For the year ending June 2007, Microsoft reported $800 million in revenue for SharePoint, a figure that dwarfs most stand-alone ECM vendors and is nearly twice as large as Filenet’s annual revenue before it was acquired by IBM. Consider also that the other ECM vendor revenue includes substantial support dollars, and the SharePoint revenue is for licensing only. Even more impressive is the number of licenses–more than 17,000 companies have purchased 85 million licenses. That is one impressive foothold.

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FAST Connector for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Available

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) announced the availability of new technologies in the FAST Enterprise Search Platform (FAST ESP) that integrate with and extend the enterprise search capabilities of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. In addition to supporting 80 languages, FAST ESP will enable Office SharePoint Server’s users to employ advanced navigation capabilities to refine results and find facts, using FAST’s Contextual Insight technology. It also uses Office SharePoint Server as a platform, extending Web Parts capabilities to expose customers and industry partners to more relevant information. http://www.microsoft.com/, http://www.fastsearch.com/