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Microsoft Office SharePoint 2013

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SharePoint is not originally intended as a social software product, but Microsoft has adhered to the trend of social computing and boosted its latest version of their “all-in-one” portal-collaboration platform with a wide range of social software functionality. In good Microsoft tradition, the latest release comes with a name change from Microsoft Office and SharePoint Server (MOSS) to just Microsoft SharePoint Server (SharePoint). SharePoint 2010 is feature rich and flexible, but also comparably complex. Thus extensive customization and training may be required for a successful implementation. The evaluation presented here will focus on collaboration and social software functionality of the product.

Microsoft SharePoint - Use Cases

Enterprise Communication

SharePoint 2010 is not designed to serve as a communication platform, but has more than its predecessors the capabilities of doing so. Every user can set up a personal blog or participate in workspace blogs. A blog is a set of related webparts which, besides the blog posts, includes blog content management (“blog tools”), a blog description (“about this blog”), categories, archives and links. When creating a blog post, users can assign the post to a category but the concept of categories cannot make up for the lack of tagging for individual blog posts. On the positive side SharePoint blogs have a tight Office 2007 integration which allows for easy content creation. Equally to blogs, forums can be added to any workspace. Due to the fact that they are based on SharePoints excellent list infrastructure, the layout of discussion threads can be extensively customized by creating different “views”. Furthermore users can comment by leaving a remark on a “note-board” which is attached to every newly created page.

Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange

Collaboration has always been at the core of SharePoint services and the SharePoint 2010 brings it to another level by surrounding collaboration processes with solid social software functionality. The customizable “site” templates of SharePoint 2010 make it easy to set up open and closed workspaces and allow setting fine grained access permissions for groups or individual users. Workspaces can be flexibly equipped with (document) lists as well as blogging, discussion and wiki-functionality. The new Office 2007 like Rich Text Editor allows users to easily create or edit content and the combination of basic workflow management with extensive office integration makes file based collaboration a pleasure. Notable in this respect is the new feature of online Word and Excel document preview which includes basic editing capabilities. Even if the social software functionality still does not feel very Web 2.0 like, it serves all basic requirements and the flexibility of the SharePoint workspaces allows customizing the platform to serve any collaboration or knowledge exchange scenario.

Social Networking and Expert Search">

The networking capabilities of MOSS 2007 are very lightweight and have been significantly improved for SharePoint 2010. The standard profile features picture, contact information and free-text self description are now complemented by a user activity stream, a profile guestbook (“the board”), an organizational chart (reporting hierarchy) and user content references (“sharing center” linking to documents, pictures, blog). Other employees can be manually added to the colleagues list and assigned to specific groups or synchronized with Outlook. The SharePoint 2010 network activity stream is called “colleague tracker” and allows following the actions of co-workers in a configurable set of selected activities (e.g. updates of tags, blog posts, documents, status). Besides customizable visibility levels of profile information (everyone, colleagues, team, manager, me), the status updates feature is very useful because users can keep colleagues informed choosing one of three standard messages (in/out of office, at home) or type in their particular status by hand.

Personal Information Management

The capabilities for Personal Information Management have been enhanced significantly for SharePoint 2010, but they still lack proper organization and integration. MOSS 2007 already had personal workspaces (“my site”) but in Share Point 2010, users have more functionality especially concerning tagging. Within the personal space there is a “Recent Activities” page which roughly works as a dashboard, containing a network activity stream, quick links to and document (task) previews for workspaces, and a personal tag-cloud. It can be enriched with other webparts, for example to display RSS feeds or track tags and people. Moreover users can store (and share) documents, pictures and lists under “my site”. In SharePoint 2010 users can tag and comment on every page. Clicking “Share & Track” in the top navigation displays a ribbon menu with buttons for comments, tags, RSS (a feed for page changes) and alerts (Email or SMS). Though it is possible to tag external websites, proper bookmark organization is missing. Search is reported to be very good but could not yet be tested.

Project Management

In comparison to other social software products, SharePoint is king in Project Management. Even if very advanced Project Management needs integration with Microsoft Project Server, SharePoint itself is exceeding standard (social software) requirements. The basic support SharePoint provides for Project Management are flexibly configurable workspaces and excellent document collaboration support. In addition, good workflow management, detailed task assignment (tracking) and basic calendaring functionality are available. Already advanced is the sites “Projects” template which creates a project tracking database and enables users to track multiple projects within one interface. The integration with Outlook is not particularly good, but at least task lists can be connected to the user’s local groupware client.



Microsoft SharePoint- Technology and Product



Operational Flexibility

At first, Microsoft will release Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 as an on-premise solution, but is expected to add SharePoint 2010 to their set of online services soon after. SharePoint 2010 requires 64 bit compatible hardware and operating systems and relies on other Microsoft infrastructure like Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008, which have to be deployed in their 64bit versions too. SharePoint 2010 natively supports Mozilla Firefox 3.0 but for Internet Explorer use, version 7 or higher is required. A complete collaboration solution needs, besides Microsoft Office 2007, additional Microsoft products like the Office Communications Server (IM/Presence), Live Meeting (desktop sharing), Exchange Server (mail integration) and Project Server. Mobile access to SharePoint 2010 is possible with Windows Mobile and the mobile view of SharePoint pages can be edited on the platform. SharePoint 2010 is broadly localized in more than 30 languages.

Customization & Extensibility

SharePoint 2010 is a portal server and thus yields almost unlimited possibilities for Customization and Extensibility. Having an extremely wide range of functionality, the product offers great possibilities but also implies great complexity and consequently experienced SharePoint designers and developers are needed to customize the product according to the needs of a team or company. The SharePoint class libraries, APIs and web service interfaces allow for extension of standard capabilities by in-house development or cooperation with Microsoft partners. Due to the dominant market position of SharePoint, most competitors in the social software market offer SharePoint 2007 connectors and are expected to upgrade them for SharePoint 2010 after its release. While platform color theming and navigation changes are very easy, customization on the user level with webparts is not simple enough to be done by SharePoint novices without training. Until now, SharePoint documentation has been weak and developers have criticized the lack of one centralized knowledge exchange platform.

Data & Security

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 works best with Microsoft’s Active Directory but the .NET Framework allows for other LDAP and Single Sign On (SSO) solutions. Security and access control management is excellent due to fine grained permission settings for groups and individual users down to the page or element level. In addition to a good life-cycle management, SharePoint 2010 provides snapshot backup and recovery, policies for records and archiving and granular recovery at item level. Repository services with document check in/out and versioning are well implemented and preset workflows (approval, collect feedback, group approval, translation management, issue tracking) help to coordinate collaboration on documents.

Vendor Position

The fact that all other vendors of social software are trying to offer integration possibilities with Microsoft SharePoint underlines the leading position of Microsoft in the market of collaboration software. Though Microsoft joined the social software party belatedly, the 2010 release of SharePoint with its boosted social software functionality shows that they are committed to invest into this area and willing to cut the ground from under their competitors’ feet. Microsoft describes SharePoint as the all in one solution for collaboration, search, content management, business intelligence, business process management and portal requirements. It will be seen if this all embracing strategy pays off, but it surely underlines the complex character of the platform.

Support & Service

Although not famous for their direct support, Microsoft can point to a huge global partner channel of certified consultants, trainers and integrators. Due to the complexity of SharePoint 2010, it is recommended to closely work together with a Microsoft Partner who has hands on experience with SharePoint deployments in general and testing experience with SharePoint 2010 in particular. Be aware that social software expertise is rare among traditional SharePoint implementers. While Microsoft has enhanced their documentation and developer community support, but still information is distributed among various websites (e.g. TechNet, msdn). The release of SharePoint 2010 includes the chance of setting up an entirely new central platform for SharePoint documentation and knowledge exchange.

5 comments for “Microsoft Office SharePoint 2013”

  1. SharePoints kleiner Bruder: Projektmanagement mit SharePoint Foundation 2010 | Besser 2.0 on 12. May 2010 14:04

    [...] Heute, am 12.05.2010, wird die 2010er Version von Microsoft SharePoint Server offiziell veröffentlicht (Launch Event). Gerade in der Kombination mit Office 2010, welches ebenfalls heute gelauncht wird, bringt der Softwaregigant aus Redmond ein mächtiges Werkzeug für zeitgemäße Kollaboration auf den Markt (siehe unsere Bewertung auf [...]

  2. Web 2.0 and 3.0 « My Social networking Journal on 25. March 2011 10:59

    [...] Sharepoint. I have used sharepoint at work in minimal fashion after reading this thread I can really see how good it can be. Due to the lack of any formal training I can see why this [...]

  3. Erich on 9. December 2011 19:10

    You review of SP2010 seems dated from the wording can it beupdated also wouldit be possible to get a review with newsgator 2010 which really make it a social platform

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