We’ve been getting a lot of questions about SharePoint 2010 and if and why companies should upgrade from 2007 to 2010. As with any new product out there, upgrading just for the sake of it is usually not a good idea and does not guarantee ROI. Having worked with Microsoft directly through the Office 14 Developer Advisory Council, we have some specific insight into some of the key benefits a company can expect to gain by upgrading or migrating to SharePoint 2010. If any of these appeal to you, you may want to look at making the move to 2010.
Enhanced UI – Microsoft has done a great job with the new UI of SharePoint 2010. Aside from taking advantage of Silverlight and Ajax to create a much richer user experience, MS has also taken advantage of the ever popular ribbon UI and incorporated that into SharePoint 2010. In general MS is working to converge SharePoint 2010 and Office products so that eventually, you won’t be able to tell where SharePoint stops and Office begins, or visa-versa. This means less training and greater efficiency for your end users.
Empowered Users — SharePoint 2010 was built with the notion that IT cannot deliver all mission critical systems to all departments all of the time. By greatly enhancing and adding to the set of building blocks that users can incorporate into their own pages and workspaces (referred to as Composites in 2010), users can create powerful and practical business applications on their own. In 2007, anything that was remotely complex would typically require Visual Studio, XML, or SharePoint Designer expert to build something practical. Non technical users can also take existing solutions such as Access databases and convert them into SharePoint web-based data entry applications so that existing investments are not thrown away in order to become centrally managed.
Enterprise Level Social Collaboration – Microsoft has made some great strides in defining collaboration. They have done a great job of emulating mainstream social collaboration utilities such as Facebook, WordPress, Wikipedia, etc. and making them ideal for corporate usage. This makes it much easier for your users to make the leap from traditional back and forth email communication to a social networking centric communication model. This means, much more efficient communication and the constant capturing of tacit business knowledge without burdening your workforce.
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Two-way Interaction with Business Data – SharePoint 2010 has reengineered the business data catalog to no longer require complex XML configurations. Line of business systems can be integrated quickly and easily into SharePoint. Through an interface that is very similar to SharePoint lists, users can edit Line of Business data directly in SharePoint in a secure and efficient manner. This is a big deal because most end users will only end up using 10-15% of a line of business system but you still have to train them on the overall system. If they can interact with only the data they need to through a consistent and streamlined interface like SharePoint, the benefits are apparent.
Control for IT — Ok, so we have all of this great functionality and users can create their own powerful business applications with minimal involvement of IT. Although this sounds like a great thing for the customer, this also tends to make most IT departments cringe. SharePoint 2010 has added several control features that allow for IT to retain control and not let rogue applications and solutions hijack your company resources. Through a robust throttling mechanism, IT can “Sandbox” end user solutions and only allow them to leverage a certain number SharePoint Server Resources (a Server Resource is a point system comprised of memory, disk space, CPU cycles and several other parameters that you can configure and put weights to). The nice thing is you can Sandbox a site, page, web part, list, workflow, etc. This granularity allows for lots of control.
On Premise or In the Cloud — SharePoint 2010 also unlocks several compelling deployment scenarios for your organization. With its new architecture, control mechanisms, and scalability features, companies can deploy either on premise or in the cloud without losing functionality or control. In previous versions, only Windows SharePoint Services could be deployed in the cloud. The biggest hindrance to MOSS 2007 in the cloud was the Shared Service Provider made MOSS difficult to fit on a shared, hosted environment. SharePoint 2010 has gotten rid of the SSP and moved to an architecture that is conducive to this.