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Posts Tagged ‘SharePoint

A new (free!) service became publicly available on Quest OnDemandQuest Site Administrator for SharePoint Reports.

This is a great free service which provides some pretty neat reports on your intranet SharePoint environment. You go to the site and it launches a nice Silverlight client. Then all you need to do is provide a URL of your site collection (e.g. http://myserver.mydomain.corp/sites/super) and get insight on what is posted at the site:

What is neat is that no data actually leaves your environment. All stats are calculated and displayed locally. Quest web server only supplies the client and Silverlight UI which then run locally on your premised. Thus, it is kind of the best of both worlds: data never leaves the building, but you don’t have to maintain the tool and always run the latest version from any computer you want:

You can read more about this service from this post by Joel.

Give it a try and let us know what you think!

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Bob Ives published an overview of Webex Connect and it looks like SharePoint Online and other soon to be released Microsoft-hosted collaboration tools are going to face pretty tough competition from Cisco.

Feature-to-feature both companies are offering a very similar set of technologies: messaging, presence, document sharing, web meetings. So what’s the difference?

It looks like the companies took vastly different approaches. Microsoft (as it seems – the product has not been released yet) basically took their existing Exchange, SharePoint and LiveMeeting servers, and can now host them for you in their datacenter.

These are more or less the same products you would use today with on-premise deployments, except that instead of your corporate Active Directory identities you would have a set of Live IDs forming your corporate directory in the cloud, which you can set to automatically sync with AD (no password sync though – users need to run a sign-in utility on their computers if they don’t want to type in the credentials manually).

This means that basically, the main value proposition is that you get Microsoft to run the servers for you and save on the administration costs. However, the services are still targeted at the use within your company.

Cisco (which owns Webex) seems to be forming the suite from another side. They took Webex as a foundation and added persistent team collaboration to it. So from what I can say, their suite is going to be more integrated and far better suited to external collaboration.

How easy is it to invite someone not working for your company to your SharePoint? Almost impossible. ADFS was supposed to be the answer but never took off, and your IT has to figure out a way to create and maintain accounts for all external users – which is a huge headache. SharePoint Online does not seem to have any changes to make it work across the enterprise boundaries any better than its on-premise cousin.

By contrast, how easy is it to invite someone external to your Webex meeting? A piece of cake! You just need to type in the email address. From Webex Connect information posted on the Cisco site it seems that this approach will now work for all the other functionality at Webex Connect. Which means that business owners will now be able to easily invite their partners to their project site – isn’t it the way online collaboration should be?

Again, we will obviously have to wait and see what the Microsoft’s final solution will be but from what we know today it looks like Microsoft’s early corporate success and enterprise-oriented identity system is now holding them in the new era of cross-business online collaboration.

You can get a demo of Microsoft’s solution here and on Webex Connect here.

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So Facebook’s Dustin Moskovitz is leaving Facebook to develop a killer version of the platform for the enterprise. Is that something totally new and should all email/collaboration vendors now run in panic? What should Dustin’s killer app be in order to be successful?

Well, obviously the attempt is not new. These days everyone is kind of expecting the tools which got successful with consumers to take the enterprise by storm and leave the old email/documents-on-a-file-share days to history.

There are even some products available today ranging from Microsoft’s SharePoint and lots of open source wiki engines, to a WorkLight (Facebook application adding enterprise security), to Twitter clones (such as laconi.ca), to SocialText’s attempt to merge them all.

So far all these attempts tend to either over-secure and over-control things (because enterprise IT needs controls, right) or take the build-it-and-they-will-come approach (deploy a wiki and wait for everyone to happily jump in). Neither is too successful.

The perfect solution needs to be somewhat in the middle, allowing for the blurred enterprise/private-life world in which we live today:

  1. Should not attempt to be a totally controlled walled garden: SharePoint or similar enterprise products today assume that people will put everything in there. This will never happen. Besides AD accounts and corporate SharePoint/SAP/what-have-you portals, people will have their external blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts, LinkedIn pages and so on. So the answer is to let employees themselves control these flows of information so I can pick my other non-enterprise identities and feeds and add them to the corporate resources.
  2. Should make sense from work/project perspective: Just launching a blogging or twitter-clone platform will not make sense for employees – they do not expect it to be their key enterprise tool – something project-oriented. Email does. CMS/project-collaboration tools like SharePoint do – hence their wide adoption today. SocialText 3.0 is trying to achieve this by building from enterprise dashboard/wiki foundation.
  3. Should integrate with existing tools (e.g. email) and not seek to replace them from day one. Xobni seems to be a rather failing attempt to do that but the direction is definitely interesting.
  4. Should encourage participation: again, lack of such encouragement is making most enterprise wiki project fail today. Some kind of reward system needs to be built in: points, status, or better off some kind of visibility system making sure that my boss and peers know that I am contributing and how valuable I am for the company.

Any other principles I am missing?

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