Friday, October 06, 2006

The argument for Sharepoint/Office vNext 

Arpan Shah

Also, on the Internet, as I mentioned before, Web 2.0 refers to browser applications... in the Enterprise, it doesn't have to be browser only if you consider my definition of web 2.0 which is about transforming users into participants. It has to be easy so people can interact... and this includes familiar applications like Office. If it's easy to consume and publish content from Office, that makes it even more attractive. Examples in the latest 2007 Office system include:

1. Blogging: blog from Word 2007 or the web w/ SharePoint blogs.
2. PowerPoint Slide libraries: View PPT slides in the browser.. or consume slides from PPT 2007
3. Excel Services: Host spreadsheets on a server and make it visible through a browser... publish the spreadsheets from Excel 2007.
4. Access and interact w/ documents, contacts and tasks via a browser... take them offline with Outlook 2007

So why care about the client?
1. While "Web 2.0" browser applications are client-like by using AJAX dev techniques, client apps are still richer... client apps are also generally more flexible w/ less storage and security restrictions... .and generally tend to be faster. Caveat: on the performance and storage front, I do see advances in services, grid computing and storage technologies to lead to even greater improvements in the next few to many years.
2. Offline. When you're offline, you need to be able to be productive and create/use content.
3. Rich Clients are the ultimate mash ups. Part of the point of mash-ups is to surface new functionality within an applicaiton a user already knows and loves.

Don't get me wrong - web applications are equally important! But Web 2.0 when taken to the Enterprise isn't just about web apps. Some organizations want to reduce the manageability costs so they try and move to a central model... but for the reasons outlined above, it's simply not practical.

You probably know where I'm going with this... 2007 Office system (with SharePoint technology as a foundational pillar) provides an unparalleled "Web 2.0" business productivity platform with out of the box solutions and a platform to develop and host custom apps. Examples of out-of-the-box "Web 2.0" applications with SharePoint technology include:
1. Blogs and Wikis
2. Team Workspaces (Collab)
3. Search
4. PPT slide libraries and Excel Services
5. Web Content Management

Needless to say, RSS is everywhere; users can create custom apps with SharePoint Designer; self-service is an extremely important underlying theme. If you take a look at the core tenets of Web 2.0 software I mention above for TDM/BDMs to consider, SharePoint technology addresses all of them.

For IT Professionals, this platform is a unified platform for different apps -> one backup/restore, one deployment, one management story... with the right tools to control and manage different users, application and information.

So the next time your company is thinking about Web 2.0, you should really take a look at WSS v3/MOSS... and see how 2007 Office system/SharePoint technology offers a Web 2.0 platform and business productivity solutions that can be accessed via a browser or interacted with using the Office client transforming your users into active participants.

Topics: Sharepoint | MSOffice | Web2.0

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