REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 20, 2006 — Heading into a new year, it’s always good for companies to reflect on what worked well in the past year, so they can build on that success. For Microsoft in 2005, one of the biggest winners was SharePoint Products & Technologies.
Today more than 600 systems integrators (SIs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) are building portal and collaboration solutions which utilize Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies, and more than 350 partners are extending the functionality of Windows SharePoint Services specifically for their solutions. Popular solutions include collaborative applications to help automate business processes, business intelligence and performance management solutions, search and workflow software, and vertical or industry specific solutions. The solutions demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment to meeting customer and market needs for more interoperable software that benefits customers and the IT ecosystem.
According to Kurt DelBene, corporate vice president of the Office Server Group at Microsoft, the extensibility of Windows SharePoint Services is a conscious design choice to create a product that takes advantage of the industry’s rich ecosystem of solution providers and highly specialized software developers.
“We have designed Windows SharePoint Services with the foundational components that enable customers and partners to develop solutions for collaboration, content management and portals,” DelBene says. “The capabilities we have designed and implemented as part of WSS provide that foundation for third parties, ISVs, customers and systems integrators to develop robust business solutions on top of it.”
Foundational Components Out of the Box
One of the key strengths of Windows SharePoint Services lies in the fact that it is an integrated part of the Microsoft Windows Server System, meaning that developers don’t have to work with separate products and integrate them to create the functionality they desire. Instead, they can take advantage of the robust industry-standard XML support, data storage, object model, workflow support and feature packaging provided by WSS.
Kurt DelBene, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Office Server Group
“WSS provides the foundational components out of the box to support collaboration, workflow, team sites and document management,” DelBene says. “This is great for developers because they don’t have to spend their engineering resources to develop those foundational elements. They can put their efforts into developing and extending that functionality to create their specific solutions.”
Customers are asking for more flexible and interoperable systems and the ability to customize our products for their specific end-user solutions. To aid in this effort, Microsoft has made available a set of free Windows SharePoint Services application templates, which customers and partners around the world are now using as an extensible, customizable basis for their end-user solutions. According to a Microsoft survey, more than 400,000 template downloads have taken place since the 30 applications templates were released in August 2005.
According to DelBene, the templates reflect the overall flexibility of Windows SharePoint Services, which allows it to provide the foundation for applications and solutions that fit a variety of business needs, from horizontal business solutions such as web analytics, to vertical industry solutions for manufacturing, education, financial services and others, to integrated solutions that extend the functionality of WSS to provide compliance and workflow support.
Partners Build Horizontal Solutions and Applications
To illustrate his point, DelBene points to a steady stream of announcements from Microsoft industry partners over the course of 2005 that demonstrate the range of vertical and horizontal business solutions and applications being built from the Windows SharePoint Services foundation.
CorasWorks Corp., a leading provider of workplace software based on SharePoint, announced the latest release of its flagship suite, CorasWorks Workplace Suite – Summer 2005. CorasWorks focuses on both vertical and horizontal solutions to solve specific customer challenges. Their new flagship product extends the collaboration capabilities of the SharePoint platform to create an integrated suite of business solutions that customers can implement and deploy quickly, without the need for costly custom programming.
KnowledgeLake announced its IW 2 solution, a horizontal technology with broad applicability for information workers, which builds from SharePoint to provide imaging and workflow capabilities. KnowledgeLake’s solution integrates with SharePoint through core XML capabilities to provide an effective, low-cost enterprise content management solution that impacts productivity in managing unstructured document content.
Epicor Software Corp., a leading provider of integrated enterprise software solutions for mid-market companies, announced a new portal strategy that will provide rich portal content to Epicor customers through a secure, standardized portal platform that delivers data exploration and collaboration via WSS and Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003.
At the recent LiveLinkUp event, Microsoft and Canadian-based Open Text Corp. announced a new strategic relationship to optimize Open Text’s comprehensive enterprise content management (ECM) solutions for the Microsoft platform. As part of the announcement, Open Text also introduced two new solutions that use the company’s Livelink ECM suite together with SharePoint.
In another development for the ECM space, FileNet Corp., a leading provider of ECM and business process management solutions, in conjunction with Vorsite Corp., a premier provider of products and services for connecting SharePoint to ECM systems, announced that they would jointly offer Vorsite’s Enterprise Integration Toolkit (EIT) as a preconfigured module for FileNet Content Manager. The Vorsite EIT enables companies to leverage FileNet Content Manager content from within their SharePoint Portal Server 2003 environments, creating an easy to use and enterprise capable content, process and compliance infrastructure.
SourceCode Technology Holdings, an industry leader for enterprise business process management software, announced the release of its K2.net 2003 Collaboration Tools for Microsoft SharePoint Products & Technologies. K2.net is a set of tools and wizards that enables business users to rapidly define, create and manage complex business processes in the collaborative SharePoint environment, extending to related systems such as line of business applications and e-mail.
In an announcement showcasing the ability to tailor a broad, horizontal SharePoint-based solution to meet the demands of a particular industry, UGS Corp., a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services, announced that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) would deploy a Microsoft-based application focusing on enterprise project and program collaboration capabilities. The implementation connects JPL employees and outside suppliers — more than 2,000 total users — to 38,000 3D product models, more than 6,000 drawings and all associated product data. The application, dubbed “Teamcenter,” includes built-in 3D product visualization and is tightly integrated with Microsoft SharePoint products and technologies.
In the world of pure vertical industry solutions, Actify Inc., a global leader in digital design communication solutions, announced the release of its Actify DesignShare product to support CAD-based digital design organizations in collaborating and communicating both internally and externally. DesignShare extends Actify’s digital design communication platform so it can be used within a managed SharePoint server-based environment.
To support the education industry, Microsoft and Blackboard Inc. announced a joint development project based on Windows SharePoint Services to help academic institutions achieve more integration and interoperability among their collaboration and portal products. The two companies initiated the project in response to requests from campus IT and portal managers to optimize the use of the combined solutions for faculty, staff and students.
Number of Solutions Swells with Upcoming Release
While these announcements demonstrate an array of possibilities that developers are seizing upon to extend and specialize the capabilities of Windows SharePoint Services, according to DelBene, this relatively small sample is the tip of a sizable iceberg.
“Officially we have more than 350 partners working to extend the capabilities of Windows SharePoint Services right now,” he says. “But I think if we really went through our partner programs and identified each developer using WSS in their solutions, we may wind up with more than 600. And then there are systems integrators such as Avanade, Accenture and HP who are stitching the functionality of SharePoint Products and Technologies into their enterprise solutions. Add it up, and 2005 was a big year for SharePoint.”
And according to DelBene, the future could be even brighter for Windows SharePoint Services. Already a long list of companies have announced their intentions to build solutions for the upcoming release of WSS. These companies include industry leaders in ECM solutions such as Interwoven, Canadian-based Hummingbird Ltd., and European-based Meridio.”
As more companies begin to work with these solutions, says DelBene, they will find new ways to utilize SharePoint’s capabilities to help their businesses. And with so many partners working to build and integrate solutions based on SharePoint technologies, Microsoft is receiving a great deal of feedback on ways to improve the product.
“We think the next version of SharePoint Products & Technologies will be even better due to enhancements planned in response to partner and developer feedback. With those improvements, the range of new possibilities enabled by Office “12,” and the way these solutions are making their way into the marketplace, companies more and more will be able to see the value that this kind of collaborative environment can bring to their organizations. So we think our numbers can be substantially larger by the end of 2006, and that SharePoint Products & Technologies can continue to grow well into the future.”