Introducing SharePoint 2007
It is rare for a technology product to attract as much attention as SharePoint has in recent years. The industry has historically paid little attention to new product suites, particularly those related to web design. SharePoint products and technologies, however, have managed to excite and rejuvenate industry followers, causing them to take notice of the ease of use, scalability, flexibility, and powerful document management capabilities within the product.
Microsoft has further upped the excitement with the newest release of the 3.0 generation of SharePoint, including the full Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 and the free Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 products. These products not only introduce several sought-after features, but improve on key areas of the product line that have limited its full scale deployment in the past. What Microsoft has created is a powerful, regulatory compliant, scalable, and economical product for document management and team collaboration.
This chapter introduces both the WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007 products, giving a high-level overview of the features and functions in each product. It lists the differences in functionality between the product lines and in various licensing options, and discusses specific improvements over the SharePoint 2003 line of products. It serves as a jumping-off point to the other chapters in this book, indicating which particular areas of the book give more information about individual features and technologies.
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Understanding the Business Needs and Drivers for SharePoint 2007
A number of organizational needs have spurred the adoption of SharePoint technologies. Some of the most commonly mentioned requirements include the following:
A need for better document management than the file system can offerThis includes document versioning, check-out and check-in features, adding metadata to documents, and better control of document access (by using groups and granular security). The high-level need is simply to make it easier for users to find the latest version of the document or documents they need to do their jobs, and ultimately to make them more efficient in those jobs.
Improved collaboration between users with a minimal learning curveAlthough virtually everyone has a different definition of what comprises collaboration, a functional definition is a technology solution that allows users to interact efficiently with each other using software products to share documents and information in a user friendly environment. In regard to SharePoint, this typically refers to document and meeting workspaces, site collections, discussion lists, integration of instant messaging and presence information, and integration with the Office suite of applications. Integration with Office applications is a key component: Most organizations do not want to force users to learn a new set of tools to collaborate more effectively because users generally resist such requirements.
A better intranetAlthough most companies have an intranet in place, the consensus is that it is too static, that it is not user friendly, and that every change has to go through IT or the web guy. This level of request generally comes from a departmental manager, team lead, or project manager frustrated with their inability to publish information to a select group of users and regularly update resources their team needs to do their jobs.
A centralized way to search for informationRather than using the word of mouth search engine (that is, asking coworkers via email for a specific document), there should be an engine in place that allows the user to quickly and efficiently find particular documents. The user can search for documents that contain certain words; documents created or modified during a certain timeframe; documents authored by a specific person; or documents that meet other criteria, such as file type.
Creation of a portalMany definitions exist for the term portal , but a general definition that a portal is a web-enabled environment that allows Internet and, potentially, external users to access company intellectual resources and software applications. A portal typically extends standard intranet functionality by providing features such as single sign-on, powerful search tools, and access to other core company applications such as help desk, human resources software, educational resources, and other corporate information and applications.
The SharePoint 2003 product line offered a wide variety of tools that went a long way toward meeting those commonly requested goals. Even better, it integrated in many areas with the Office 2003 family of products (and to some extent with previous versions of Office), which made the learning process relatively easy for all different levels of users. It was a second generation Microsoft product, building on SharePoint Team Services and SharePoint Portal Server 2001, which placated some of the warier decision makers.