April 23, 2001, 4:03 PM — 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.