SharePoint 2010
With the release of SharePoint 2010 (news, site) getting closer, people are getting either a) excited, b) nervous or c) all of the above. Whatever your mindset, here are 5 changes coming with SharePoint 2010 which you should take note of.

The Business Collaboration Platform for Enterprise and the Web. You have to roll that over your tongue a few times to get a feel for what it could really mean. A one-stop shop, one solution for all needs or key functionality to help you get the job done.

1. Better Management of Content

This is a fairly broad thing to talk about. We've covered some of the enhancements already:

  • Metadata and taxonomy improvements: Support for terms and keywords, a new managed metadata service and better tagging features.
  • Richer records management: New in-place records management and improvements to the records management center, along with a content organizer and compliance details demonstrate support for compliance and eDiscovery.
  • Management of Digital Assets: Capabilities for managing audio, video and image content types
  • Content Types: One of the biggest improvements is the ability to define content types and re-use them across site collections, or even farms.

2. Application Integration

Formerly called the BDC (Business Data Connectivity service) in SharePoint 2007, SharePoint Business Connectivity Services (BCS) is designed to help you connect SharePoint and your business applications and other external data. This includes information that may reside within Web 2.0 services like blogs and wikis.

While the 2007 BDC was a bit of pain to use, the 2010 BCS is designed to be power-user friendly -- with SharePoint 2010 you won't have to be a serious developer to take advantage of business data integration. In fact, you can use BCS with SharePoint Designer 2010, something you could not do before.

Speaking of things you couldn't do before, BCS provide read/write capability, so you can read as well as update those external data sources.

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SharePoint 2010 -- Business Data Connectivity Service

Another nice thing about BCS is that it is available in SharePoint Foundation 2010 (formerly WSS 3.0). The capabilities available within Foundation are only a subset, but enough to enable developers to build solutions that can run on Foundation or SharePoint Server.

3. Social Computing

SharePoint 2007 has some social computing capabilities like blogs and wikis, and there have been a couple of kits released to expand on those. But it needed more. Often those thirsty for more social computing features went shopping with third party providers like Telligent and NewsGator -- finding more advanced functionality with those folks.

With SharePoint 2010 social computing has become a primary focus. One of the core spokes on the new SharePoint wheel is communities. And SharePoint is opening the door to a number of new features including richer member profiles, tagging and comments, activity feeds, people search, workspaces and more.

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SharePoint 2010 -- Communities in the Foreground

Now does this mean that all those third party SharePoint add-on providers are out in the cold? Not necessarily. The smart ones will continue to offer enhanced capabilities for social computing in SharePoint like micro-blogging and industry vertical solutions.

4. Business Intelligence

No longer is business intelligence is a sophisticated subject for specialized analysts. SharePoint opens the door to enabling non-technical users and IT alike to gather intelligence and get a better picture of what's happening within their departments or organizations.

In addition to improved Excel Services, Microsoft also announced that Performance Point was being integrated into SharePoint 2010, effectively calling it Performance Point Services. With SharePoint 2010, BI Portals can be created that include scorecards, dashboards, KPIs and more.

And if you want self-service analysis functionality, SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel and SharePoint (formerly known as Project Gemini), can give just that. This service is the next generation of SQL Server Analysis Services and is designed with the end-user in mind.

5. Enterprise Search

We have no problem saying that SharePoint 2007 search services were weak. The limitations of the out of the box SharePoint search caused many to go up a level and install solutions like Search Server Express and the newer FAST Search for SharePoint.

But in SharePoint 2010, Microsoft has made an investment in search that includes enhancements to both standard and FAST Search. For starters, the user experience has improved greatly and is more interactive. It now includes related searches, wild cards, spell check and more. Relevance factors now include social data like tagging and usage, and people search now includes social networking and expertise algorithms and phonetic search.

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FAST Search for SharePoint 2010

Connectors to external data have been either improved or expanded and with the help of the BCS, they can now include content in external databases.

Anxious to Get Started?

There are a lot new things to see and think about in this next version of SharePoint. Better content management, improved social computing, much improved search, application integration and business intelligence, what more could you ask for from SharePoint 2010?

Don't get us started. Because there is more to consider, including offline access with Workspaces, mobile access, tighter integration with Office and a greatly improved user experience. But we'll stop here for now -- ponder these 5 items and share with us what your favorite new feature is.