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Archive for the ‘Sharepoint’ Category

Today I would like to draw your attention towards Business viewpoint in comparison of SharePoint and Drupal.

So let the story begin.

 Initially SharePoint was created as a document management system and has over time, through continuous expansion and new features, taken on some similarity to a content management system. So for today SharePoint is being positioned as not only an intranet platform, but also a web framework that can power big sites and be on the same playing field as other larger CMS platforms. Drupal in its turn has been developed to provide the foundation to build something, whether it’s a corporate website, web-shop, customer portal, CRM, intranet or extranet, or all at once. So theoretically, we can admit that since then, Drupal and SharePoint has seen the light, both platforms have been more in each other’s way and the debate of Drupal vs. SharePoint  has been part of their history. Still what is a wiser choice?

Time for setup

In this point Drupal knock SharePoint out. Firstly Drupal is based on PHP that makes it very easy to run on any environment. With SharePoint, it needs to run Windows locally to be able to set up even the development environment. If you do not have Windows, you will need run it on VMware or other virtualization software. In this case you will have to beef up your local machine to manage the memory requirements.

Today SharePoint Online definitely obviates the set up hassle for companies not looking for self-hosted solutions. Even so, the configuration steps are not as easy and shiny as they might look on the surface.

Drupal allows to quickly set up an intranet site or something on a public domain in a few hours. From a business point of view, you can get rolling within a few hours!

Integration with other services

In this case SharePoint definitely has serious advantage of how well it integrates with the other Microsoft services. So, if as a company you are invested in Microsoft and its other services, SharePoint is a natural choice. Firstly, you would already have Windows developers and system administrators and secondly, the tight coupling SharePoint offers with other MS services is golden.

Though Drupal can be configured to interact with other MS services, it is much easier in a non-Windows scenario.

Deployment

While SharePoint solution need to have not only developers but an in-house SharePoint system administrator to be able to carry out deployments, Drupal does not required any extra developer or CPU resources.

Activities beyond intranet

One of the claims of SharePoint is how it helps companies launch multiple websites apart from just setting up an intranet platform. Still to pull this off it requires a humongous number of human resource and the technical ability . The same can be achieved with Drupal but easier.

Maintenance against paid upgrades

SharePoint today is in a much better shape than what it was a few years ago. But  the progres has been very slow and every upgrade means digging deeper into your pockets.

With the community based model, Drupal has seen a far better progress in a much shorter time. The progress has not just been in the core platform but also the kind of plugins and extensions for rapid site assembly available to make Drupal a fuller platform.

Look

In the market Drupal being an open source option has a lot of low cost and free available themes, that can be integrated without much effort. SharePoint  in its turn charges for the themes and plus designers have to know XSL to be able to tweak the themes.

Cost

What do you think who will have more advantages if we compare an open source option with a Microsoft product? JStill it’s important to note that, SharePoint as an online hosted solution is much more affordable than its predecessor downloadable versions. The licensing fee and the developer licenses were prohibitively high which now can be circumvented by going for the online versions.

From business point of view open sourсe solution seems more profitably than corporate one and Drupal wins. Still if we compare them from technical point of view…who knows, may be the Microsoft’s family product will gain revenge. It would be interesting to know your thoughts about it.

Elvira Golyak

Elvira Golyak
Elvira.Golyak@altabel.com
Skype ID: elviragolyak
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

It is doubtless that both SharePoint and Windows Azure can each work well on their own, but when put together, the doors open for developers to extend the features of SharePoint by leveraging the infrastructure that is the Cloud.

So let’s have a look at the advantages of using these two technologies together and new opportunities for expansion.

Storage
SharePoint document libraries can store files. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should store all of your files, or every type of file. For example, a document library is not an ideal home for big video files. Such files are better suited for a hard drive or a file system. Further, the premise of document libraries in SharePoint is to share and as a result, the more users there are using SharePoint, the more they are sharing, and subsequently, the more files accumulate.

The more files that accumulate the more room they take up. Whether it is because of an accumulation of files or because files are large, you encounter a need to be able to store data on an infrastructure that can keep up with your growing data needs and shrink when files are removed. This need is easily serviced by Windows Azure’s Storage Services, specifically Blob Storage. Rather than using SharePoint to store files, Blob Storage can do the job, expanding and shrinking as your demand requires. Blob Storage is also ensuring that your files are stored secured and are replicated to another datacentre in the unlikely event of a datacentre disaster.

Large Data Sets
You can store and work with data in SharePoint using lists. But the more complex the data becomes, the more inefficient lists become as storage mechanisms and the more difficult it becomes to work with the data. With Windows Azure in the mix, you can outsource your data needs to Azure, specifically SQL Azure.

From a storage mechanism perspective, using SQL Azure gives you the power of SQL Server with the elasticity needed to keep databases growing with data and prevent performance degradation of your SharePoint cluster. From an ease of use perspective, using SQL Azure also allows you to work with the data as you would with SQL Server, no longer needing complicated code and interactions with SharePoint’s APIs to get at and work with the complex data. Once the data is in SQL Azure, you can connect it to your SharePoint solution either through direct calls to the SQL Azure database, or through a web service hosted in a Windows Azure Web Role connected to SharePoint via BCS.

Code Execution
Chances are your SharePoint environment is locked down pretty well in order for your IT folks to keep the environment highly performant, scalable, and secure. But being locked down can also limit the type of solutions you can build for SharePoint. Let’s say you wanted to build a solution that uses SharePoint as a front end, but then takes the actions and data from the user and goes off to do something else, or perhaps feed the information into different systems. That code needs to run somewhere. A natural inclination would be to have SharePoint run the code within a solution. However, if you’re environment is locked down, and let’s say you’re only able to deploy Sandboxed solutions, you’ll be constrained as to what you will be able to do.

Working with Windows Azure as a backend system also allows you to work with the restrictions imposed by sandboxed environments. To do so, you outsource the “work”, your code that does stuff, to a web or worker role in Windows Azure, have those instances run the code for you, and then expose the result via web services that can then be read back into SharePoint or SharePoint Online. Keep in mind that this can be two-way. By using SharePoint or SharePoint Online’s web services or client-side object model, you can reach into SharePoint to return or save data.

Integrating with SharePoint Online
There’s also a great story of SharePoint Online and Windows Azure working together to enable working with internal systems and/or protecting sensitive data that you don’t feel comfortable storing in SharePoint Online (but do feel comfortable having it in your own data centers). A hybrid solution is in order here. Have SharePoint Online as your front end. It will then talk to a Windows Azure service that will then communicate with your internal and securely transfer the result/information back to SharePoint Online.

Reach
When you see the cloud as a place to deploy applications, your reach naturally widens. For example, deploying your services and applications in Windows Azure, they are available to many SharePoint clients. By leveraging the Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket or deploying your own custom WCF services or ASP.NET applications, you not only are able to better monetize on optimization, but the opportunity to take advantage of your Windows Azure applications and services can be extended to your customers as well. This is a tremendous opportunity for you because it means you can write once, sell many times, and let Windows Azure worry about scale.

Reusability
The cloud is about reusing your existing skills and your existing code; it’s not all about reinvention and multiple code bases. With .NET, you are able to reuse already-built .NET applications in the cloud, or reuse your existing skills to build new ones. Further, the cloud provides the opportunity for service layers that enable cross-device (e.g. phone, web and PC) connectivity and cross-platform integration.

As you can see there’s a natural fit between the two technologies to fill in gaps and make better solutions possible.

Read more here.

Kind regards,
Aliona Kavalevich
Altabel Group – professional software development

Microsoft SharePoint is a web-oriented platform for collaboration and document management. The solution can be used to create various web-sites with shared documents or dedicated applications (i.e. Wiki, blogs, and forums). SharePoint functionality is presented to the User through editable control elements that display data. Such web parts are placed on pages which in their turn are placed on the Portal and are available to the User via the browser.

SharePoint is presented in two main products:
• Windows SharePoint Services;
• Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.

Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) – is a platform for deployment and content management by Microsoft. WSS has the following features:
• is a storage of files and folders;
• gives a basic option for information search;
• provides functionality of a content management system;
• management of access rights definition;
• gives an option for a web part extension.
After the application deployment, standard or customized web parts can be used. Blogs, private address books, document store websites, internet shops, news websites, and pages with audio and video players can be easily created with the help of the applications. All the functionality above can also be combined on a single portal.

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) is the best component for integrating SharePoint functionality into MS Office applications. It expands Windows SharePoint Services with new options. If a document has to be saved as a part of web-applications, the solution to use is MOSS. Client Office applications (including Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) can be easily used as constituent parts of Corporate solutions built on SharePoint. All MOSS functions can be extended by developers to implement a wide range of products: from simple web-panels to complex web-applications.

SharePoint products and technologies give a wide range of advantages not only to developers, but also to separate users and organizations of any level.

Process of web-application development using SharePoint is similar to the process of application development using more traditional means (i.e. PHP). Nevertheless, product development stage itself goes much faster and as the result cheaper to the Client.
Simplified process of web-applications creation with the use of SharePoint can be given with the following set of actions:
• SharePoint deployment and web-site creation by default;
• After Windows SharePoint Services deployment the web-site is created by default;
• Web-sites collection for the application with a template is created by default;
• Then there is a creation of the necessary types, lists and user groups;
• User rights are defined for the lists. The full safety of User information is provided.
• Necessary application components (i.e. wikis, blogs, calendars, etc.) are added and set up.
• Web-site interface is setup per Client’s wishes.

SharePoint is a powerful tool which enables creation of web-sites and a big number of applications that use web-interface.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

I’ve found that people have a general idea of what SharePoint is, but many have no idea how to apply it to their own business. I’d like to share with you the top ways that SharePoint can solve common business needs. And I want to emphasize that these are only a few of the many ways to utilize the SharePoint Services. Once you start using it, you will begin to realize the many other valuable benefits that can easily be accomplished by the everyday user. Hope you’ll find a few productivity solutions here.

With SharePoint you can:
1. Store all your emails on a secure and centralized Website for easy archive.
2. Keep a central task location for assigning tasks to team members. These tasks will also link to your projects so you can easily find out what tasks are still open for each project.
3. Organize large events and store the related documents, assigned tasks, and generally post anything and everything related to the events. It will also integrate with Outlook for added efficiency.
4. Collaborate with team members on all documents and stay on top of who did what. Earlier versions can easily be restored in case someone has made too many mistakes. Projects can also be linked to related documents.
5. Assign tasks to your team members, and automatically notify them that they have a new task. Alerts are sent when there have been updates to the tasks.
6. Quickly manage all projects for your team or organization so there’s no need to explore buying an expensive project management solution.
7. Use the efficient check-in / check-out management feature to sort your documents.
8. Implement a help ticket resolution for your organization or team without breaking the bank.
9. Start a private company blog to communicate and share ideas with your team that’s viewable only by those you give access to.
10. Gain more control over your company’s documents with the content approval function.
11. Offer training materials to your teams, clients, and/or partners in a password-protected Website that can be accessed anywhere in the world.
12. Offer a secure and private place to share documents and other information with clients and/or partners.
13. Access and work with your data using your Internet-enabled mobile phone for added convenience while traveling or out of the office at client meetings.
14. Create better team communication and brainstorming sessions where everyone can participate when their schedules permit.
15. Centralize where company and team project announcements are posted. Everyone will receive a notification via email or mobile phone automatically, anywhere in the world.
16. Work offline on the files, project tasks, tasks, discussions, contacts, calendars, blogs, etc. and then sync the updated information later on.
17. Create “central” documents (and synchronize), so all team members, clients, and/or partners are able to work on the same document and make changes. Updates are accessible with a click of a button. Everyone can then sync back to the “central” document and have all edits merged into that single document.
18. Easily add custom fields to any area and capture the information that’s most important to your company, all without the help of a web designer or IT person.
19. Pull up and update Microsoft Access database from a local desktop and sync information to a central location that can be accessed from anywhere at any time.
20. Create a project dashboard where on one page you can view and filter on common project elements, such as: project details, project documents, project tasks, project issues, project calendar, project milestones, project lessons learned, project risks, project change orders, and more.
Keep in mind that a little training goes a long way in increasing productivity in the products you use in your business.

Altabel Group highly recommends taking the time to learn this efficient and effective tool and watch your productivity, along with your profits!

Happy SharePointing!

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

During the course of 2011 Windows8 was presented to the. Could the current proposed – ‘Windows 8’ – provide the basis for major future changes to Microsoft SharePoint?
SharePoint has been an enormous success for Microsoft in recent years.
Let us take a speculative look at three areas where SharePoint can learn from Windows 8.

The User Interface
One of the features proposed for Windows 8 which has tremendous potential for SharePoint is the ‘Metro’ interface: a user-friendly, touch-screen and highly visual navigation system for which special ‘Metro apps’ can be produced to enable specific user activities. The Metro interface is probably one of the biggest areas of change in Windows 8. Optimized for touch screens, this new way of using Windows is clearly inspired by the “Windows Phone 7″ user interface. “Metro apps” will be a new breed of Windows application, sitting separately from things like Office and Photoshop, and developed using what are seen as more traditionally web-based technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript. Users will interact with them in a much more visual manner, even on non-touch devices, and Microsoft is assuming many users will make the permanent shift away from the current Windows desktop interface.
Implications for SharePoint are twofold. Firstly, Metro apps aren’t a huge logical leap on from web parts. Could Metro apps form the basis of a “next generation” web part? Could approved Metro apps even run natively on SharePoint? Certainly this could give Microsoft a head start if it did decide to create a SharePoint specific store. Changing the underlying architecture of web parts to something more web based would open up the developer base to a wider audience and bring the technology inline with the majority of other similar widget platforms available.
Secondly, the Metro interface (the idea of functional hubs, full bleed canvases and the typeface) is very likely to inspire the general direction of the SharePoint 2012 interface. How much of this is practical to implement is currently only known to Microsoft. SharePoint will surely retain its current content management system elements, elements that many users customize to provide the exact look and feel they require. On the other hand, the out of the box site templates are starting to feel tired and the administrative interfaces didn’t really change after the 2007 release. Whatever the outcome, there is certainly an appealing argument for Windows 8, Windows Phone 7 and SharePoint 2012 to share a common look and feel.

The “Windows Store”
Could the launch of the Windows store for Metro apps and other software influence the similar launch of a new SharePoint store where web parts and third party add-ons could be purchased?
The Windows store is set to be the key digital distribution platform for Windows, likely offering both Metro apps and more traditional Windows software. Seen as a direct response to the Apple Mac software store, and of course inspired by the original iPhone app store, this feature will probably change forever how Windows software is purchased and maintained.
The next version of SharePoint seems almost certain to feature a similar offering. Two elements of the current SharePoint experience make this likely. Firstly, SharePoint is extremely well supported by third party suppliers and developers. A whole host of add-ins and tools are already available for purchase, and it would make perfect sense to centralize the distribution of this software. Secondly, one of SharePoint’s key features, web parts, makes almost the perfect store item. Web parts are generally small pieces of software, tightly focused in functionality and low in price. They are very much the app of the SharePoint world.

The “Ribbon” Interface
A respected commentator envisages a greater use of the Microsoft ribbon in any new SharePoint version; in the same way that the ribbon is expected to be integral to Windows 8…
Yes, the Microsoft ribbon can already be found in SharePoint 2010, but SharePoint 2012 will surely see it used to a much greater extent. The often controversial ribbon, which debuted as part of Office 2007, was used sparingly in Windows 7 but forms a more integral part of Windows 8. It is now integral to the operating system as part of Windows Explorer. Whilst this hasn’t been met with universal acclaim by those that have used it, Microsoft looks unlikely to backtrack.
As a result I expect to see the ribbon used much more extensively in the next version of SharePoint. Settings screens and central administration are obvious candidates for an overhaul. It would also seem likely that its use for list, and in particular web part, configuration will see an improvement.

Thank you for attention and you are always welcome with your comments!

Best regards,
Elvira Golyak
Altabel Group – professional software development


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