Cloud // Platform as a Service
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1/9/2013
01:13 PM
Russ Edelman
Russ Edelman
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Is SharePoint Trustworthy For Business-Critical Processes?

With workflow improvements in SharePoint 2013, more companies may consider it. Here's what else to consider in Microsoft's latest version.

 8 Key Changes In Microsoft SharePoint 2013
8 Key Changes In Microsoft SharePoint 2013
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I'm a SharePoint conference veteran. I've attended each once since they officially started in 2008, including the most recent one late last year in Las Vegas. What's new among attendees now is a certain maturation about where SharePoint works well and where it doesn't.

SharePoint zealots are getting smarter about the platform's malleability and also about when not to use it for certain applications. For example, we're seeing more companies use the platform for public-facing websites, contract life cycle management, case management, accounts payable repositories and human resource portals for on- and off-boarding of employees.

On the flip side, savvy SharePoint vets recognize that it isn't very good in supporting transactional applications such as inventory management, warehouse operations and general ledger applications. In those cases, SharePoint may serve as a portal into those systems. Microsoft has a new partner program called "Business-Critical SharePoint" aimed at getting it deeply integrated with line-of-business systems such as SAP, Oracle Financials, Salesforce.com and other transactional systems.

As IT leaders think about their SharePoint strategy, here's a look at the most important changes in SharePoint 2013, broken down by the most likely benefit to line of business teams, end users and the IT organization.

Line of Business

Compliance. One of the key new features in SharePoint 2013 is the e-discovery capability, which allows for more extensive searching and better legal holds of content inside and outside of SharePoint. For example, SharePoint's e-discovery now allows for legal holds to be placed on content that resides in users' Exchange mailboxes, file systems and other locations. In the past, this information couldn't be locked down. This information can then be exported for e-discovery purposes. Additionally, SharePoint 2013 now has the ability to lock down a site rather than just the content in a site through Site Policies.

Collaboration. This version offers improved people-finding and better ability to share content and links and to track activity based on people or content. A big change will be when Microsoft incorporates its newly acquired Yammer functionality. Its roadmap for Yammer includes single sign-on and more document management and activity features.

The Cloud. Microsoft stepped into the cloud a few years ago by offering SharePoint through Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). SharePoint 2013 offers a simpler approach. Cloud-based SharePoint can help with collaboration sites accessed by employees as well as external people, such as suppliers.

End Users

Improved Website Management. Though many organizations use SharePoint 2010 for public-facing websites, it is rather clunky in terms of page rendering, navigation and search engine optimization. Improvements in SharePoint 2013 include letting Web teams more easily create readable URLs (such as www.microsoft.com/sharepoint), incorporate search engine optimization tags directly into the configuration (without XML or coding) and supporting catalog management. Microsoft now also allows third-party software to be used for design layout.

Work Management Services. Those familiar with workflow management in SharePoint are painfully aware of the distributed collection of tasks lists that pervade the product. SharePoint is composed of sites, and each site typically has a task list associated with it. But seeing a consolidated list of all tasks across all sites has required custom coding or third-party utilities. SharePoint 2013 creates one place to go for task assignments for a user to take action on a particular document or report.

Improved Mobile Support. SharePoint 2013 improves capabilities for device channels, push notifications, HTML 5 support and in general has a more polished and less painful experience for the mobile workforce. For example, in prior versions, users could not edit or add documents from a mobile device; these functions are now available.

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The IT Organization

Apps. Microsoft has at last immersed itself in the app model with SharePoint 2013. Apps in this context are add-on components that work outside of the SharePoint farm, with an integration link that binds the app to that instance of SharePoint. For example, an advanced document comparison service for AutoCAD files could be created in a marketplace. The app could be installed into the SharePoint farm. Once implemented a user could then highlight multiple documents in a SharePoint document library. These could then be sent to the marketplace app for comparison, and the compared AutoCAD file could be sent back directly into SharePoint.

Microsoft has launched an App Marketplace that app developers can use, or they can offer apps that reside on their own servers. It is important to note that IT will sometimes need to run a blended system, where part of the code is running on an external app and part on the SharePoint farm. For example, Timer Jobs and Service Applications within a SharePoint farm cannot be redirected to an app, so applications that require such capabilities will require a blended system.

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asphostportal
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asphostportal,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/12/2014 | 10:00:09 PM
re: Is SharePoint Trustworthy For Business-Critical Processes?
Nice writing and we enjoy to read this article. We also believe that SharePoint is very important for business and it help to reduce the business cost. We have many clients that use SharePoint 2013 for sharing their job easily
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
1/17/2013 | 9:16:42 AM
re: Is SharePoint Trustworthy For Business-Critical Processes?
Sprawl yes, because Microsoft overpromises on what SP can do. Aside from that, many use SP to simply serve up static pages, something they can do with IIS or a real web server with much less overhead and cost.
I'm speaking based on my experiences with SP and they all were mainly negative. Currently, using a SP system and my biggest grief is that it only works in IE because it has massive HTML errors. SP is just another tool to lock people into an increasingly unflexible MS ecosystem. In my opinion SP is just bad software, functionally and especially when it comes to quality. How difficult is it to run the pages against the W3 validator?
TheSauceZA
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TheSauceZA,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/14/2013 | 4:06:03 PM
re: Is SharePoint Trustworthy For Business-Critical Processes?
good read. what amazes me is how many organisations are still looking at share-point as a substitute for a file share.

mrandash
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mrandash,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 11:30:43 PM
re: Is SharePoint Trustworthy For Business-Critical Processes?
Well summarized Russ. Thank you!
RUSSIRBB
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RUSSIRBB,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 5:49:26 PM
re: Is SharePoint Trustworthy For Business-Critical Processes?
Hello Moarsauce123!

Thanks for the feedback/complaint. I do have a few points to share in response to your commentary - and please note that all comments on the comments are very much welcome!

1. Dumb as a door knob - the notion of "SharePoint sprawl" would prove otherwise in that people have run with SharePoint OOTB in ways that could have never been imagined by any other ECM vendor. This is not to say that they are optimizing the tool; however, it is being used for more information management functions then any other tool I have ever seen. This comes from a guy who used to live in the world of OpenText/Documentum/Kofax/Filenet/etc.

2. SP Savvy developers - see comment above about broad usage patterns. However, more importantly, I would argue that the majority of SP work is not development, but in fact, configuration and much more learn-able then development - hence its success. In this regard, it needs to be viewed as a platform worthy of investment such that people can properly optimize it for use.

3. Praying for version control - I have on occasion run into such problems; however, it has by far been the exception and not the rule. I've also seen such integration tangos with other products as well.

4. Production or Critical - I find the biggest problem regarding this point is that organizations, IT and users live in the dated world of earlier versions of SharePoint that perceive it as a team collaboration tool. When working with 2007 or greater, the product as a platform must be taken seriously with the right investments. If not, your point is accurate; however, I'd argue that this is the case with any such investments. The reality is that when companies invest properly in SharePoint as an ECM platform, the product can absolutely be used in a business critical capacity.

So...is it the hammer or the guy who is swinging it?

Have a great weekend!
Russ

RUSSIRBB
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RUSSIRBB,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2013 | 5:39:06 PM
re: Is SharePoint Trustworthy For Business-Critical Processes?
Hi Laurianne,

My observations with regard to compliance and Microsoft is that the tool set provides the mechanics of providing such capabilities. For example, they have really stepped up their e-Discovery offering. Through configuration efforts and/or third party ISVs, compliance based solutions are being delivered regularly on top of SharePoint.

Hope this helps.
Thanks,
Russ
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
1/11/2013 | 2:10:29 AM
re: Is SharePoint Trustworthy For Business-Critical Processes?
My biggest complaint is that out of the box SharePoint is dumb as door knob. You need to hire SP savvy developers in order to get any decent use out of that system. And even then you need to pray because often enough SP claims it uploaded a current edit of a document when in fact it did not. The history looks fine, but when downloading the file it is the totally outdated version. There are uses for SP, but for anything that is used in production or even critical better systems are available.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
1/10/2013 | 6:20:27 PM
re: Is SharePoint Trustworthy For Business-Critical Processes?
I have heard the compliance concerns in recent conversations with CIOs. Can anyone share any feedback on whether MS is doing enough now to ease your compliance worries around SharePoint?

Laurianne McLaughlin
InformationWeek
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