Independents Seize On Success Of Microsoft's SharePoint

Suppliers like Day Software look to enhance SharePoint's capabilities, or, in cases like open source Alfresco Software, seek to replace it.
The popularity of Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software has led to the birth of a cottage industry of suppliers who either enhance SharePoint's capabilities, or, in cases like open source Alfresco Software, seek to replace it.

SharePoint is finding a growing role in offices and departments as a collaboration tool for small business units.

Swiss software supplier Day Software announced Wednesday that it is opening SharePoint to the larger world of Java applications in the enterprise. It has produced CQ Connector for SharePoint, which is based on the Content Repository standard for Java. The connector can tie SharePoint into an enterprise portal, swap information from the portal to SharePoint, or vice versa.

With Day's connector, SharePoint becomes "much more enterprise ready than it tends to be on its own," said Santi Pierini, senior VP of marketing.

Day is a little-known implementer of Java standards and offers the Communique suite of enterprise portal and Web content management applications. It has a large library of connectors to enterprise software, including one to SAP's NetWeaver API for connecting to SAP applications. Its CTO is Roy Fielding, a co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation and one of the originators of the Apache Web Server. Day has headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, and Newport Beach, Calif., where Fielding works.

Its CQ Connector for SharePoint, built following the Java community's JSR 170 repository standard, can exchange information between Communique's repository used to store Web site content and a departmental SharePoint repository.

The connector can search the content of a SharePoint repository, using either SQL query language or Xpath, which allows relevant data to be extracted without necessarily retrieving the whole document. It can observe changes in SharePoint content, restrict access to a SharePoint repository by imposing certain views, and impose an Access Control List to enforce enterprise security restrictions.

"We're seeing high demand to make SharePoint more effective for global, enterprise-scale companies," Pierini said.

Day also makes connectors to Vignette, OpenText LiveLink, Interwoven, EMC Documentum, FileNet P8, and IBM Lotus Notes Domino.

A second product, from Alfresco Software, implements Microsoft's SharePoint protocol to produce a compatible collaboration server, but one that it also says functions on more of an enterprise scale.

Alfresco already offers an open source content management system and it's making Alfresco Labs 3, its SharePoint-compatible collaboration server, available as open source code as well. Labs 3 was announced July 31. The Labs 3 repository can extract information from SharePoint and Office applications and manage content on a more enterprise level, said John Newton, chairman and CTO, in an interview.

"Microsoft was forced to release the protocols under European Union agreement," he said, referring to the March 2004 European Commission ruling. Newton said Alfresco is the first independent vendor to implement both the SharePoint and Office application protocols, as allowed under the ruling.

In the Alfresco Labs 3 implementation, however, customers can use the SharePoint protocol with non-Microsoft databases, operating systems, and portal products, he noted.

Several other third party suppliers are jumping into the burgeoning SharePoint market. CorasWorks in Reston, Va., for example, offers tools for developing modular SharePoint applications.