SharePoint Brings a Wide Range of Benefits
Our partners at Info~Tech Research Group did an extensive survey of businesses to determine the value they are finding in SharePoint, Microsoft's enterprise collaboration, portal and content management platform.
There's no doubt SharePoint Server is popular. Microsoft says it's the fastest growing product in company history-and that's no small feat.
One in two corporations now use SharePoint, according to an Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) survey of over 500 existing users from the AIIM community. Unfortunately, I couldn't download the free report from the website-it wouldn't allow me to register-but a ReadWriteEnterprise article about the survey included these telling fun facts from the survey:
With stats like those, you've got to wonder how happy these companies are with their implementations. As it turns out, they're actually pretty darn happy with it:
Maybe that's one reason companies take a more laid-back approach to integrating SharePoint with other systems and data sources. In a recent CMS Wire article, SharePoint specialist and blogger Michal Pisarek said that many organizations take an incremental approach to integrating SharePoint functionalities with other systems and, even then, they tend to prefer a user-interface approach to integrating external data-as opposed to storing the data within the actual SharePoint environment.
He also says enterprises still have a lot of questions about how to integrate SharePoint and extend its capabilities. To help companies, many software vendors are now offering integration capabilities with SharePoint, Pisarek writes. But beyond relying on someone else, it turns out Microsoft gave integration a boost by adding four new features to SharePoint 2010:
Business Connectivity Services (BCS). This provides a way to integrate external data from the lines of business, according to Pisarek. It builds on the Business Data Catalog (BDC) functionality from Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.
Support for RESTful Web services. Web services aren't a new edition, but they've been expanded and can help with integrating external services. What is new to SharePoint 2010 are RESTful Web services, designed to be used by remote components, he writes.
Client object models. ECMAScript Client, SilverLight Client and .NET Managed Clients. Aka, client APIs. Pisarek explains that these new object models help with integration from a usability perspective, which means that users can "access both SharePoint and other informational assets from a single interface that does not necessarily have to be the SharePoint interface."
The OASIS Content Management Interoperability Specification (CMIS) connector. This addition recognizes that many companies already own content management systems. The OASIS CMIS specification is used by enterprise CMS providers, including IBM, EMC and Microsoft, to support interoperability. This connector allows SharePoint to perform content-centric tasks such as document versioning, CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete) functions and querying the remote repository, he says.
There are more details about SharePoint's integration support in the full article. Given how widespread SharePoint is-and how many companies have questions about integrating it with existing systems-it's well worth a read.
One thing the article doesn't address-probably because it's focused more on content integration-is SharePoint's integration with cloud solutions. I suspect it will become more of an issue as SaaS and cloud become more acceptable. Plus, I couldn't help but notice that Box.net-which clearly aims to compete with SharePoint-recently announced a new release that includes support for cloud integration with Netsuite and VMware.
For more help implementing SharePoint, check out this "Knowledge Network SharePoint Tools, Templates Roundup."