Understanding SharePoint: It's the Ecosystem, Dummy

5 minute read
Barb Mosher Zinck avatar

There are few organizations that haven't considered -- and implemented -- SharePoint (news, site) in some manner. But as much as it has been implemented, it's still a confusing and often frustrating platform to work with.

Delivering just the kind of help these confused folk need, CMS Watch offers their latest research onSharePoint. The SharePoint Report 2009helps organizations better understand where and how this platform might best fit in their organization. Here's what you can expect.

The SharePoint Report

This is the second edition of CMS Watch's SharePoint report and likely not the last. When something is so widely used and both loved and hated, you will always find something new to inform enterprises about.

There are nine chapters in this 247 page report and lots of information to digest. If you already have a solid understanding of SharePoint, you might still want to review the first few chapters which cover the basics of the technology along with operations, governance and security information.

Chapter 5 provides some good insight into evaluating, customizing, developing and support SharePoint. Some of the concerns noted in this chapter, such as the lack of good support for developing features, will be resolved in Visual Studio 2010, but until then you are still on your own.

Microsoft has long promoted SharePoint as a platform and has gone a long way towards providing the necessary tools to help developers extend or build upon the SharePoint platform, including new capabilities built into Visual Studio 2008.

Nine Business Services

CMS Watch evaluates SharePoint's ability in nine business services including:

These are the services that Microsoft indicates SharePoint is an appropriate solution for.


Each services is introduced with the listing of the strengths and weaknesses within a SharePoint implementation. They are also evaluated and rated for Enterprise, Departmental and SMB fit, so you get a good idea of whether or not a particular business service works for your level of need.

Interestingly, of the nine services, the most likely fit for SharePoint is for SMB and in some cases, at the Department level. In fact, the only strong fit the report notes for Enterprise level organizations is for Application Development.

The SharePoint Ecosystem

One of the key indicators of SharePoint's strongest capabilities lies within its Ecosystem. The SharePoint Ecosystem is made up of  a strong developer community, partners and system integrators who provide services for support and development, custom solutions and integrated add-on solutions that enhance and build upon SharePoint's strengths and weaknesses.

Learning Opportunities


SharePoint Ecosystem

And there are a number of vendors and consultants in this ecosystem. This report gives you a good overview of that ecosystem and what it means for making decisions on how to implement SharePoint.

Where SharePoint needs support, there are any number of solutions on the market to provide it in areas such as Search, Social Software, Image Capture, Archiving and Records Management, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Administration and Management, BPM and Workflow and Web Part Collections.

In fact almost every day you hear about a new product, solution or component that integrates with SharePoint. In this report, you get a view of some of the more well known software providers including AvePoint, Telligent, Bamboo Solutions, KnowledgeLake and many more. You also get a look at the strengths and weaknesses of these vendor solutions as well.

Keep in mind that vendor solutions updates are announced almost daily. So when you read about a partner solution in this report that interests you, it's best to check for updates on that partner solution. For example, Telligent, AvePoint and KnowledgeLake have all announced recent updates to their solutions.

The Key to Understanding SharePoint is the Ecosystem

CMS Watch offers a lot of insight and advice on SharePoint in this report. But the we think the real key to understanding SharePoint is to take a really hard look at the ecosystem that surrounds it. Where SharePoint is strong in functionality, you don't see a lot of vendor offerings.

Where it is weak or completely lacking, vendors are usually coming out the woodwork. How they integrate, what capabilities they offer and their relationship to SharePoint are critical to understand because it's a clear indication of how much work will be involved to provide you the functionality you need.

Vendor Neutral and Good Advice

The SharePoint Report from CMS Watch is one of the few, if not only, vendor neutral reports you can get. This report closes with some key advice on business, technical and development considerations for SharePoint.

Some have said that CMS Watch tends to be a little too hard on SharePoint. While we're not completely sure that's true, what we do know is that it is better to look at SharePoint critically then with rose-colored glasses. Because while it does have it's good points and a lot of organizations seem to like it, there's more than a few thorns in this rose.