Upgrading to SharePoint 2010

No, I haven’t converted into a SharePoint fanboi.  I am merely acknowledging that it is here to stay, at least for two more versions.  Realizing that, my company has been doing quite a bit of SharePoint work in the past few years.  We have recently been looking at SP2010 and just upgraded a customer to the new version.

This dalliance with SharePoint has not gone unnoticed by some people in the local area.  I was asked to co-present with Wyn Van Devanter to the Washington, DC Web Content Mavens group on what web managers need to know before making the move from 2007 to 2010.

I thought I would share my slides and offer a few additional notes for people.  For the record, Wyn tackled the first part of the presentation and I handled the second portion.  We could probably each speak to the other half, but we each presented to our strengths.

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Tony Byrne Visits the Web Content Mavens

Happy New Year Everyone!  It has been a while since my last post.  Things have been returning to normal and I took some time off during the holiday season to hang out with my wife and boys.  Upon returning to work, there was the normal small post-holiday backlog accompanied by the chaos that is the Presidential Inauguration.  I understand that it is an important event in American history, but the loss in productivity for what is essentially Obama’s first day of work is staggering.

Maybe I should request a parade on my first day of work the next time I decide to start interviewing for a job.

In the midst of all this, on Wednesday evening I had quite an enjoyable evening at the monthly Web Content Mavens event here in DC.  It was, as always, a fun time talking to various people about their challenges implementing WCM and ECM systems.  I even ran into a few Documentum people.  The highlight of the night was listening to, and talking with, Tony Byrne, founder of CMS Watch.

I like Tony, and not just because he has bought me a beverage or two in the past.  Tony doesn’t mince words.  He tells his honest opinion in his drive to educate people on the world of ECM.  Previously, he had spoken to the Mavens on Social Media, but tonight was focused on the Web Content Management (WCM) marketplace as it stands right now.

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SharePoint for Web Content Management, The Movie

A month ago I invited people to attend the Washington, DC Web Content Mavens meeting for March to hear a Microsoft partner explain how SharePoint could be used for Web Content Management. Well, that day was yesterday then you missed a great presentation.

Before I dive in, I want to thank Rob Garrett of Portal Solutions, LLC for answering my questions and being, or at least appearing, honest regarding the ability of SharePoint to provide Web Content Management. He shared areas that weren’t perfect and agreed with me on some of the limitation issues with SharePoint when dealing with large enterprises. If I had to deploy a public facing website with SharePoint, I’d bring him on board to help out.

Of course, I’d probably never use SharePoint for such a purpose.

The Architecture and Features

To use SharePoint for a website, you need the full featured Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) and not the free SharePoint Services. In general you would setup a SharePoint Farm, consisting of one database server/cluster, multiple SharePoint/Web servers, and some sort of load balancer in the front.

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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!

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Open Source vs. Open Source

I went to the monthly meeting of the Web Content Mavens last night. They were featuring a panel speaking on about 7 different Open Source Web Content Management systems. Some of the vendors present, like Alfresco, do more than web content, but web content was the focus. It was moderately interesting. I would have loved to see more interaction among the panelists, but it was good to hear their spin on what they each do best and to talk with them afterwards.

Before I say anything else, the highlight for me was when one of the panelist, a primary contributor to DotNetNuke, Antonio Chagoury, said,

You get what you pay for.

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Defending Enterprise Content Management

So the other evening, I was out at a Web Content Mavens gathering, and someone asked me what I meant when I talked about ECM. This person had years of experience in Web Content Management and a few years working with a leading ECM provider before returning to their roots in WCM. His basic premise was that ECM was a marketing ploy cooked up by the vendors, analysts, and consultants out there and that there is no rational reason to force them all into one system.

This was, at the same time, one of the best, and most painful, conversations I have had in quite a while. On the one hand, it is good to have to occasional defend your convictions in order to make sure that they are still on solid ground. On the other hand, sometimes you want to hit your head into a wall when someone doesn’t get it. However, I can see why that opinion exists. The vendors and analysts are to blame.

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