SharePoint for Web Content Management


Before continuing, I’ll pause to let the laughter die down. Done yet? Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

Seriously, Microsoft continues to push SharePoint 2007 for Web Content Management. I’m sure it can be done, but it seems a bad fit. SharePoint’s primary weakness, in my opinion, is the inability to scale for the large Enterprise. Now imagine managing a large website. There are two options here:

  1. Host on SharePoint. Bad. Beyond bad. The security and scalability issues are challenging on a good day.
  2. Store an manage on SharePoint and publish out. Definitely not out-of-the-box. At a minimum, a WCM system should be able to handle this.

It appears that I’m not the only person that thinks that SharePoint isn’t a good fit for WCM. Janus Boye over at CMS Watch shared a couple of stories from some Danish companies that wanted to use SharePoint for WCM. They couldn’t find anyone that would do is for them, and one of them even asked Microsoft directly. The closest they got was one that offered to do it on SharePoint 2003!

The Big Show

Next month, March 26, I’ll be attending a Web Content Mavens event in downtown DC where a partner, referred by Microsoft, will be talking about using SharePoint for Web Content Management. I’ll be there to see the spin and to see how it might actually work. If you are in the DC area, you can sign-up and attend. It is a free event and you can meet a lot of people that live in the web world. I know I’ll be bringing some of my people there.

If I am in a good mood, or just stunned, I’ll hold my tough questions for after the presentations. Time will tell.

7 thoughts on “SharePoint for Web Content Management

  1. 90% of SharePoint’s capabilities are not available out-of-the-box.

    I can’t really follow your article because I am ignorant of large-scale WCM and the complexities that make SharePoint a laughable solution for such a project. But I know that, unlike Joomla, Plone, or some of the other platforms I tried, SharePoint is pretty easy to extend with SharePoint designer–and without code.

    I’ve only been playing with SharePoint for 8 months, but I know from my research that Dell, Microsoft and others have MOSS installations in the multiple TB range. So for you to say it doesn’t scale is difficult for me to follow.

    Could you provide some scope for the type of project you’re thinking of? In pages, TB, or whatever. Maybe you could list some of your concerns about MOSS and why it would struggle to support such a project.

    Thanks

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  2. The scaling is simple. The content is stored in the database. So, unlike other systems where just the metadata is stored in the database, SharePoint puts everything in. That puts a limitation on the size. You can scale SQL Server up higher, but it gets expensive and has limits.

    I have one system, non WCM, that has almost 9TB of content, adding 1-2TB a month) and it is zooming along on SQL Server 2000. When we upgrade to 2K5, I expect no problems for a longer period of time. If I was using SharePoint, I would have to have a much more powerful database environment to keep going, and I’m not sure how much longer it would last as a single repository.

    However, Microsoft will take care of those limitations one day, it is just a matter of time.

    Most of the WCM systems that I have, large-scale, used do out of the box what you have to develop for SharePoint. I am looking forward to the demo next month.

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  3. AutoSponge, did you mean to say that 90% of SharePoint’s capabilities are _not_ available out of the box? The more I work with SharePoint, the more I realize how much you can do out of the box. Looking back on the projects I did when I first started working on MOSS 2007, I probably could have eliminated 3/4 of the custom web parts I wrote just using the content query WP.

    As far as scaling goes, I haven’t had to work on any public-facing sites with more than 2 WFEs, but you don’t have to put the entire load on the database server. MOSS 2007 includes several options for caching data on the WFEs themselves. I’ve found that this drastically improves the performance for anonymous users.

    Here’s the MS link on output caching:
    http://technet2.microsoft.com/Office/en-us/library/9f3cfe3f-01b5-406e-8615-04735ae422861033.mspx?mfr=true

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  4. Well, i can’t see SharePoint as a serious framework for the WCM space.
    We’ve built several solutions on SP but all required significant amount of coding and the general layout was not quite as adaptable as needed.
    On another hand… SharePoint would be a good place to start implementing a collaborative environment in a department / company. My guess is that it will only get better in time.
    Nevertheless, it will have some competition on this space from Google Sites: http://sites.google.com/.

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  5. I would definitely agree that the general layouts are really ugly and not very adaptable. I’ve used a minimal master page from Heather Solomon to grab only what’s necessary and implement the styles from our creative department: http://www.heathersolomon.com/blog/articles/BaseMasterPages.aspx. I would still agrue that with a little creativity, you can do a ton without doing much coding at all…

    I haven’t checked out Google Sites yet, but this is the second time someone’s mentioned them as competition to SP (and I really do like Google’s stuff).

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