With the launch of Office 2010 out of the way Microsoft has turned its attention to improving its email service Hotmail and document sharing abilities. There have also been a number of releases to improve data storage, not least of which is NetApp's new offering for SharePoint 2010.

Hotmail Upgrades To Attract Gmail Users?

Seems that with last week’s launch of Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft is again looking for other areas where it might be able to clip Google’s wings.

This time it is with an upgrade to Hotmail, which it says, will stop Gmail’s gallop in mid-track. While there are many new features coming on board, from the point of view of document management the area of principal interest is the upgraded ability to share documents through Windows Live.

Users can use a combination of Web-based editing tools and cloud file storage. The new version, which will begin being offered to most users in July or August, aims to offer a better alternative to the standard attachment.

Instead of actually attaching a document or photo to the email massage itself, users will be able to upload the file to the SkyDrive service and then send a link to the message recipient.

In doing so Microsoft (news, site) overcomes one of the biggest drawbacks of Hotmail -- using SkyDrive users will no longer have to worry about file sizes and as a result be able to share and send very large documents, presentations or videos.

The new version is due for release in July or August -- no exact date announced -- and will have the effect of poaching users from both Yahoo Mail and Gmail who are respectively the biggest and third biggest email service providers in the US.

Alfresco Tackles BPM Space

Alfresco (news, site) looks set to give the business process management space a considerable shake up with the launch of its new Business Process Management (BPM) open source project called Activiti.

A new Apache-licensed open source BPM platform designed from a blank slate, the Activiti project implements the new BPMN 2.0 standard from the Object Management Group (OMG). Alfresco has also added Tom Baeyens, founder and architect of the JBoss jBPM project, and fellow architect Joram Barrez, to its team.

Activiti will be built from the ground up to be a light-weight, embeddable BPM engine, but also designed to operate in scalable cloud environments.

Baeyens says he expects the final version to completely disrupt the BPM space as once it is released common BPM features will be freely available to everyone.

Alfresco says it got involved in the project because it believes a more widely available and liberally licensed process engine was needed across the BPM space.

While Activiti will become Alfresco's default business process engine it will also continue to support jBPM as well as other business process engines currently integrated with its enterprise content management software.

NetApp Offers Better SharePoint Storage

Last week’s launch of SharePoint 2010 saw the predictable slew of announcements from vendors who have just adjusted their software to make it compatible with SharePoint.

NetApp (news, site), one of Microsoft’s storage solutions partners, has concentrated its efforts on developing a solution that will enable users to store large amounts of data easily outside of SharePoint and still access it through SharePoint 2010.

NetApp SnapManager 6.0 provides SharePoint Server 2010 customers with policy-based management of their data, allowing them to automatically place data files based on location, size or type in lower-cost SATA storage. This also enables them to optimize their storage resources and reduce storage costs.

Users can manage the data using the same SharePoint Server interface they are comfortable with to access, share and utilize data without regard to where it is physically stored. NetApp SnapManager will be available by August 2010.

HP And SAP Improve BI?

HP (news, site) has also been looking at data storage issues with the launch of a new suite of business intelligence services to support SAP NetWeaver BW environments.The services reduces user dependency on hardware and also provides access to that data through a single view.

The new HP Business Intelligence Assessment Services for use with SAP (news, site) solutions includes four separate assessment services that will enable users to store large volumes of data on one system.

HP will also provide users with a roadmap to a single enterprise data warehouse infrastructure through an HP Neoview Advantage implementation that extends support of SAP NetWeaver BW to include non-SAP data.

The HP Neoview Advantage platform is a scalable database platform, allowing customers to store manage and access huge volumes of data.

Microsoft To Offer Dynamics AX Connector for SAP

And a final piece of new from Microsoft -- and SAP. The two have just announced that they will be releasing a new connector for Microsoft’s Dynamics AX enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that will be able to link to SAP's Business Suite ERP.

The objective is to set up a two-tier structure, integrating processes from both the headquarters of an organization using SAP's Business Suite and subsidiaries using Dynamics AX.

Microsoft said that the new connector will be available in the third quarter of this year and is designed to enable users share business processes from a central SAP solution.