SharePoint 2010 overkill for some, Forrester says

New analyst study claims users are looking for isolated and more specific applications

Despite platform improvements coming in Microsoft's SharePoint 2010 server, the software is likely to be overkill for users seeking to meet isolated and specific requirements, according to a study by Forrester Research.

The study, SharePoint Server 2010: An Evolutionary Step toward Content-Centric Middleware, generally gives high marks for the improvements Microsoft has made to the server, which has become one of its fastest selling products of all time. SharePoint 2010 is expected to ship in June.

The report, in fact, says that users of SharePoint 2007 who see a gap that is filled by the 2010 version, such as improved social networking tools, should consider moving to the new edition.

But Rob Koplowitz, a principal analyst at Forrester and author of the report, points out that SharePoint 2010 should be considered a major strategic move for users not currently on the platform. He says those users should evaluate the software's feature set and make sure it is not overkill. He says SharePoint 2010 "can be a hammer, but not everything is nail."

The report concludes that SharePoint 2010 is likely not a fit for those with basic needs that could be better filled by vendors such as Socialtext or Jive. In addition, end-user licensing requirements should give pause to those looking to build social communities across corporate boundaries and those in need of performance-rich Web management or large-volume transactional content management. Also those with advanced data cleansing and transformations needs are not likely to find SharePoint 2010 the best fit.

Microsoft is evolving SharePoint beyond its server application role to become a full-fledged platform reaching from the intranet to the cloud and out onto developers' palettes. Microsoft is pushing SharePoint's capability as an Internet-facing Web server, its new integration with Visual Studio development tools, its revamped SharePoint Designer, a host of new social computing features, a more secure runtime environment for application components and a set of cloud-based APIs that open SharePoint to technology's hottest trend.

Koplowitz says the "good news is that SharePoint 2010 addresses gaps and issues found in prior versions."

He points out that social networking tools are now "a first-class citizen" and more aligned with consumer social tools, that the profiling capabilities are much improved as is support for blogs, wikis, tags and feeds.

The report also details other notable improvements, such as a new offline client called SharePoint Workspace based on the Groove technology Microsoft acquired in 2005; new capabilities for developers; integration with line-of-business applications; and enhancements to search and document management.

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