SharePoint readies data for enterprise use

InfoWorld |  Software

THE PROLIFERATION of corporate intranets has proven to be a boon and a bust. Intranets provide employees with easy, cost-effective ways to publish information, but they also let loose a huge data flood of information. Tools such as portal software and document management systems have helped pinpoint information and organize files. Still, each product usually requires its own complex, expensive infrastructure, which has hindered widespread acceptance of these tools.

But a corporate portal server such as Microsoft's SharePoint Portal Server 2001 may solve that problem. SharePoint Portal Server combines content indexing and searching, document management, and collaboration functions, accessed though a single, customizable intranet site. We found it capable of serving as the core of a company's knowledge portal initiative.

Additionally, the product integrates with Microsoft Office 2000 and the forthcoming Office XP so users can publish and manage documents directly from their desktop applications, nearly eliminating additional training and procedural changes.

If you're getting a feeling of déjà vu, it is probably because Microsoft Exchange 2000's document sharing and discussions capabilities, plus the Web publishing features of Office 2000, do intersect with SharePoint Portal Server. Microsoft's portal extends what's available in its other products while working within a company's current IT infrastructure. SharePoint also represents a better value than more expensive products such as the Lotus Discovery Server, which lacks document management functionality, a major feature of Microsoft's product. For these reasons, SharePoint Portal Server earned a score of Very Good.

SharePoint Portal Server 2001

BUSINESS CASE

SharePoint Portal Server gives workers a central site to search for and organize data from a myriad of content sources. Its usability and integration with existing IT infrastructures can result in higher productivity with minimal new investment.

TECHNOLOGY CASE

Based on Microsoft digital dashboard technology, this solution consists of a server and a set of client extensions that allow users to obtain content through MS Office, Windows, and a Web browser.

PROS

+ Documents organized into common categories

+ One interface searches multiple data repositories

+ Relatively easy-to-build Web Parts

CONS

- Forthcoming Office XP needed to leverage document management

COST

Server, $3,995; client, $72

PLATFORMS

Windows 98/2000, Windows NT; Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher or Netscape Navigator 4.73 or higher.

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