Millions of people across the globe are celebrating (or at least paying some degree of attention) as Microsoft rolls out the red carpet for the official launch of SharePoint 2010 (news, site) and Office 2010. There are a lot of changes in this latest version, much related to an improved user experience, some of it related to improved collaboration and business processes. 

Three years ago Microsoft released SharePoint 2007 and the world exploded with SharePoint implementations. To say it was an improvement to SharePoint 2003 would probably be an understatement. The problem was SharePoint was really too easy to implement.

Many implementations came from the grassroots in organizations which led to improper planning, little to no governance, a file share mentality and more. What many organizations were often left with was a mess. Now keep in mind this mess was not really Microsoft's fault, if making software easy to implement and use is wrong, then we all need a reality check.

But SharePoint 2007 was far from perfect and to get it to work in many enterprise situations took a lot of time and many customizations. So like all software, a new version was needed to resolve many of these issues. It took them three years, but SharePoint 2010 has finally arrived.  

Microsoft touts SharePoint 2010 as the Business Collaboration platform for the enterprise and the web. They say is crosses organizational boundaries and supports a number of activities, from workplace collaboration, to document management, to web content management and more. So let's take a look at the 6 new pillars of SharePoint 2010.

The 6 Pillars of SharePoint 2010

1. Sites

Essentially, everything you do in SharePoint is site-based. These sites can be accessible through your intranet, extranet or internet. They can be collaboration workspaces, business dasboards, portals, your public web presence. You also have personalization via MySites, content targeting and tagging.

Perhaps the point here is that whether you are building an intranet, an extranet or an Internet site, the tools you need are similar. Personalization, collaboration, communities, social networking, content management -- these things can be leveraged across any type of site you create.

Another important point to make here is that SharePoint 2010 is a platform that can support the growing number of mobile workers across an organization. This new virtual cube experience is supported through collaboration, content management and community capabilities. And SharePoint Workspace has arrived to support offline access (sometimes we do disconnect from the network).

There have been many improvements in these areas and we've covered them in the following articles:

2. Communities

It was called Facebook for the Enterprise during a Microsoft demonstration, and while I sort of dislike that term, the thinking behind it made sense. Microsoft has taken the social aspects of SharePoint 2007 and made them a lot better. MySites actually becomes a very useful component, Profiles are rich, there's a newsfeed -- or activity feed -- to keep you in the loop.

Communities are really special collaboration sites, if that helps you envision them better. They are not exactly like the communities you may be use to in solutions like Telligent, NewsGator or Jive, but the social computing capabilities are much better than 2007.

3. Content

In many ways, this pillar should really just be renamed Document and Records Management, but there's two many words to fit on the new SharePoint wheel. Maybe this is where the enhancements have really taken SharePoint from a departmental, or SMB solution to a real enterprise option.

There have been massive improvements to metadata creation and management, and taxonomy. You can set retention policies on content types, which can, by the way, be created globally. The amount of documents that can be added to SharePoint 2010 has increased significantly and the support for external data storage makes it that much better. You've got in place records management, a record management center, auditing and version control, and much more.

Important to note here that all these capabilities support not only document-based content, but web pages and social content as well.

Learning Opportunities

DoD5015 certification is still not available, but likely in the works, as is support for the newly official CMIS standard.

4. Search

With the acquisition of FAST and its integration into SharePoint 2010, search has improved a great deal. Of course FAST Search for SharePoint is not the default search option. That, too, however has seen a number of improvements.

5. Insights

SQL Server 2008 R2 has added a number of self-service business intelligence capabilities, including some new functionality that works for SharePoint 2010. This is business intelligence for the information worker including dashboards, scorecards, reports and more.

You now have PowerPivot for SharePoint and Reporting Services 3.0. To take the business intelligence capabilities to the next step, Microsoft has added Performance Point Server to the SharePoint platform, renaming it PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint.

6. Composites

Remember, SharePoint is a platform. And with SharePoint 2010 comes a rich API and the new Business Connectivity Services. It has become much easier to integrate data from your line of business systems, mixing in a little collaboration, a rich security model, upcoming support for CMIS.

These composite applications can be built without diving into the world of developer code as well using tools like InfoPath, SharePoint Designer 2010 and Visio 2010. Cheers and woots just went up among the information workers, and shudders of fear among IT.

It's a New World for SharePoint

SharePoint, 2007 and 2010, is a popular, if not the most popular, topic among analysts, content management vendors and organizations. You can't talk solutions without SharePoint coming up. The improvements to SharePoint 2010 are going to make those discussions that much more interesting.

Now we aren't saying that SharePoint 2010 is for everyone, or that it should be at the top of your list when selecting a solution to meet your needs. But the fact remains, it is here, there are massive improvements in areas that should catch the attention of WCM, ECM and Social Software vendors and you can't ignore power of that SharePoint community.

We have been talking about SharePoint for a few years now, and we aren't going to stop. What we are going to do is dig deeper to bring you the information you need to make a sound decision on if and how you use SharePoint in your organization. Join us in the discussions.