Tuesday, January 19, 2010

SharePoint Overview

This is a cross-post from my blog on the military Social Media tool milBook.

In this post I will provide a very brief overview of a major online collaboration system, Microsoft SharePoint, and in particular Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS 07) which is in widespread use particularly in the Army.

As usual, I gathered up many definitions for SharePoint, and then used them to derive my own:

Microsoft SharePoint is a product that connects information with people in each level of the organization. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) is the full version of this
portal-based platform for collaboratively creating, managing and sharing documents and Web services. MOSS enables users to create "Sharepoint Portals" that include shared workspaces, applications, blogs, wikis and other documents accessible through a Web browser. Users can manipulate proprietary controls called "web parts" or interact with pieces of content such as lists and document libraries.

There are a multitude of sites, blogs, and other online resources for all things SharePoint. I found that this site on SearchWinIT.com had a good brief overview of the system:

MOSS is used by many enterprises as a content management system (CMS). Partially as a result of the tight integration with Microsoft productivity applications included in Office, such as Word, many administrators have found MOSS useful in organizing and aggregating an enterprise's data into Web-based portal with defined taxonomies that structure the information. MOSS includes additional features as an inducement for system administrators to upgrade from WSS, including knowledge management, organization of business processes and enterprise search. Both versions include support for many Web 2.0 technologies and third-party Web browsers like Firefox.
Fundamentally, MOSS provides an integrated platform for building customized Web-based applications and portals in Windows Server environments. To address the needs of remote workers and telecommuters, as well as system administrator concerns for data security, MOSS can be configured to return separate content depending on whether access is gained from intranet, extranet or Internet locations. Active Directory groups or HTML forms authentication can also be added to MOSS, granting multiple permissions to multiple parties or through alternate providers.
Users log on to Web portals to edit and create shared documents. These "SharePoint portals" are ASP.NET applications that are hosted on a server and use a SQL Server database. MOSS provides Web browser-based management and administration tools that allow users to create and edit a document or document library independently. Collaborative editing of this kind is aided by integrated access and revision controls, allowing administrators to freeze certain documents or restrict user privileges where required. MOSS also uses embeddable widgets in shared Web pages to add additional functionality. Widgets include:
  • shared workspaces and personal dashboards
  • navigation tools
  • lists
  • automatic alerts, including email and integrated RSS
  • shared calendar and contacts
  • discussion boards
Users build SharePoint pages is by combining selected widgets into a Web page. Any Web editor that supports ASP.NET can be used for this purpose, though Microsoft has released a WYSIWYG HTML editor, Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer (MOSD), that was specifically designed for this purpose.
Critics of SharePoint point out that certain features of MOSS 2007 only work with the newest version of Microsoft Office, thereby forcing IT managers to upgrade their software. SharePoint's lack of support for non-Microsoft formats, like files saved using quark or Adobe Acrobat (.PDF), is also a cause of concern for some administrators evaluating the suite as a potential enterprise-wide CMS.
The previous versions of SharePoint are SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and SharePoint Portal Server 2001. There is a new version of SharePoint due out this year (SharePoint 2010).
Here is a diagram I obtained here that offers a more detailed rundown of MOSS 07 capabilities:

This is merely a high level overview of a large, complex, and rapidly changing subject area. There is a wealth of information out on the Web, and here is the list of sources I used to prepare this post:

Microsoft Office Online (Product Overview)

PCMag.com Encyclopedia

SearchWinIT.com Definitions

SharePoint Experience Blog



As always, I welcome your comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment