How should you categorize SharePoint? That seems to depend on whether you are talking about SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010. It also depends on who you ask and what your needs are. For starters, the name SharePoint is a solid clue — this software product is first about sharing information and secondly about finding and collaborating on information at a specific place.
Microsoft has released several generations of SharePoint, but you only need to be concerned with SharePoint 2007, which has been around for roughly 3 years now, and SharePoint 2010, which was officially released in May 2010.
In SharePoint 2007, the six functional areas include:
– Content management;
– Business forms;
– Business intelligence.
This release of the product included the first forays into both web content management and connectivity with back-end business systems. However, for the majority of users, SharePoint 2007 was really used as a glorified file sharing service, with a bit of collaboration added on.
SharePoint 2010 aims to change this — to really move towards Microsoft’s dream of SharePoint as an enterprise platform for many different information applications and information worker uses.
Microsoft has referred to SharePoint 2010 as a business collaboration platform, a kind of one stop shop for all your information worker needs.
The 2010 release offers a number of improvements over the 2007 product, including user interface improvements, greater social capabilities, deeper business intelligence, advanced records and document management and better integration with other systems.
Regardless, to understand what SharePoint really is, you need to understand the highly ambitious agenda Microsoft has for the product. It is this: To become the single point for all information aggregation, search and collaboration in your organization.