The most comprehensive summary I’ve read so far on Microsoft’s foray into social networking via their Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 (MOSS 2007) product. The article is an extract from a forthcoming white paper written by three Microsoft gurus – Eric Charran, Dino Dato-on and Greg Lang.
The article seems a bit too preoccupied with the profiles, active directory and people search facilities at the expense of how they’ve implemented tools such as RSS, wikis and blogs. However, it does seem to be a vast improvement over the facilities offered on Sharepoint 2003. Given the usual complexity that Microsoft seem to automatically build into the deployment of any of their products, it looks like it could meet the social networking requirements of most organisations, provided that networking and collaboration is limited to within the organisation’s firewall. My guess is that it would be hugely expensive to deploy as a social networking solution across and between organisations, e.g. for connecting councils in local government or for collaboration between agencies and learning providers in the education sector. Sector-wide social networking solutions for business still seem to be limited platforms such as GovX or I&DeA, and products such as Blogtronix and CommunityServer. Still, given the huge investment that many organisations have already made in Microsoft’s Office products, I anticipate a huge take-up for MOSS 2007. I just hope they’ll also recognise its limitations for (social) networking outside the firewall.
I have never been a SharePoint fan as it has always struck me as an end-user application that is sold to the IT organization, not to the users. At my last local authority, we installed SharePoint as a corporate edict but it was simply not used by anybody. We had email, calendars and shared directories etc. so there was no incentive for users to move across to SharePoint which was more complicated, less usable (e.g. searching) and much slower. Sadly, I think that you are right that MOSS 2007 will be a commercial success but only because it will continue to sell to government IT organizations who just love to buy MS products.
Im following this discussion. I’d like to experiment with a hosted SharePoint solution with a supplier I like 123Together to use with my clients that want to launch social networking straties in the new year. Is this the way to go?
it’s difficult to give you a definitive answer without knowing what requirements you’re working to (and budget). All I can say is that if your social networking requirements fit WITHIN the enterprise as opposed to going ACROSS enterprises, then Sharepoint 2007 (MOSS) is a good enough solution. However, whilst MS have made huge steps in delivering collaboration and team-working facilities, they still don’t seem to understand the community element (e.g….of practice,…of interest etc.), and particularly the concept of unbounded communities. For these you’re better of looking at things like Ning, Community Server or Blogtronix (to name just a few of the several hundred products in this space).