20 April, 2012

Key Improvement in SharePoint

Microsoft Share point technologies have matured to great extent since its beginning back in 2000’s. Throughout these years Microsoft provided a step further in every release of the SharePoint version and the technologies relating to the SharePoint services are converging and integrating to the current time.

In 2001 Microsoft provided the Version 1 of SharePoint services knows as “SharePoint Team Services v.1” along with “SharePoint Portal Server 2001”. The team services and portal server were managed as different entities.

In 2003 Microsoft released another server solution known as “Content Management Server 2002” along with upgraded release of SharePoint technologies  such as “Share Point Portal server 2003” and a renamed version of services known as “Windows SharePoint Services v2”. The Windows SharePoint Services v2 and SharePoint Portal Server 2002 were closely integrated while Content Management Server 2001 was a stand alone.

In 2006 Microsoft released another increment to the its Windows SharePoint Services with Version 3, with lot of new advancements and on the top of these SharePoint services are built the new SharePoint Servers. Microsoft released the first (beta) version of the new office system code named as “Office 12”.  Office “12” suit includes a range of SharePoint Servers of which Content Management Server and Portal Server are an integral part of the suit. The SharePoint Servers of office 2007 suit are called MOSS 2007.An Overview of MOSS 2007

MOSS 2007 provides the so many features to an organization’s enterprise level computing requirements. The feature set is divided into the following categories:

1.    Platform Service.    
 Platform Services is the core for the MOSS 2007 architecture. All the features of MOSS 2007 are based on the advancements in the platform services. Platform services component of the MOSS 2007 architecture provides these listed features.
-- Workspaces Management
-- Security
-- Storage
-- Server Topology Management.
-- Site Model

Microsoft Share point technologies have matured to great extent since its beginning back in 2000’s. Throughout these years Microsoft provided a step further in every release of the SharePoint version and the technologies relating to the SharePoint services are converging and integrating to the current time.

Collaboration feature area of MOSS 2007 provides rich support for various kinds of communication and collaboration needs across the enterprise, within departments and among teams. The feature set under collaboration includes the following.
-- Documents/tasks/calendars
-- Blogs
-- Wikis
-- E-mail integration
-- Outlook integration
-- Offline documents/lists

2.    Portal.
 Portal Area of the MOSS 2007 architecture provides support for integrating different types of web sites and site collection into one Portal. There can be as many portals as required by the enterprise. The Portal features provide a lot more advancement and easiness for creating these site collections and portals. The features provided in this area are:
-- Enterprise Portal template
-- Site Directory
-- My Sites
-- Social networking
-- Privacy control

3.  Search.
 The search area of the MOSS 2007 architecture provided improvements by the following features:
-- Enterprise scalability
-- Contextual relevance
-- Rich people and business data search          
-- Content Management.

As discussed earlier that content management was provided in earlier version of SharePoint technologies as a different standalone server, but in MOSS 2007 this functionality has been provided as an out of the box feature. The Content Management provides the following improvements to the SharePoint Experience.
-- Integrated document management
-- Records management
-- Web content management with policies and workflow

5. Business Forms.

With the advent of Windows Workflow Foundation, it was needed that the business process forms used in the workflows produced by the WWF be saved and routed with an engine kind of mechanism. Therefore the MOSS 2007 included a Forms Server which is solely responsible for managing the business forms across enterprise in a workflow. The business forms area provides the following features:
-- Rich and Web forms based front-ends
-- Pluggable Single Sign-On (SSO)

6. Business Intelligence.

Since the SharePoint servers have been very successful in the enterprise wide aggregation of communication and information there needed such services which can display the business related data to the related departments and teams. So that everyone having appropriate rights to view the business related data can access and analyze the various kinds of information on the portal. The Business Intelligence feature area provides exactly the required things. This includes:
-- Server-based Excel spreadsheets
-- Server-based Excel data visualization
-- Report Centers
-- Business Intelligence Web Parts
-- Key Performance Indicators (KPI) / Dashboards
-- Key Improvements in MOSS 2007 / Limitations in SharePoint Portal Server 2003

Let’s talk in details about the major improvement in MOSS 2007 (the limitations and pain points in SharePoint Portal Server 2003). The following list is a brief overview of which features the SharePoint Portal Server 2003 does not provided, but are now provided as Part of MOSS 2007.
-- Multi-Lingual
-- Authentication
-- Extranet portal addresses/aliases/maps
-- Fine-Grained Access Control per list item permissions
-- Workflows
-- Backup / Restore
-- Aggregation of information and lists
-- Navigation usability
-- Report Center and Dash boards
-- Tasks & Calendar Sync with outlook
-- Site Customization
-- Offline documents and lists.
-- Search improvements.
-- Metadata Management
-- Usage Reporting
-- Listings Usability

These limitations/paint points have been addressed with the help of improved and integrated MOSS 2007 architecture. These limitations have been addressed by different feature areas (as discussed earlier) of MOSS 2007. The following sections elaborate on the few of the major improvements which are made to counter these limitations. These are discussed per Feature Area.
Platform Services

Platform Services is the core advancement in the MOSS 2007 and many of the improved features are provided in this category. From the above mentioned list. The improvements provided by Platform Services are.

Supports installation of multiple language packs to the same server so that each web can have its own language, thus providing support for multilingual web sites as well

With the help of ASP.Net 2.0 the Platform Services provides features such as ASP.Net pluggable Authentication and web form authentication.

Deployment of extranets with the help of Reverse proxy support and alternate access URLs is made possible.

Fine-Grained Access Control
In SharePoint Portal Server 2003 only Document Library (List) level access was supported where as now there is a per item level security defined.
Platform Services provides support for Windows Workflow Foundation. 

Backup / Restore
Improved backup / restore including wastebasket and VSS support

Aggregation support by the help of Cross-web list parts is provided.

Improved Look & Feel and navigation by using master pages and Security-trimmed UI is provided.

Site Customization
Customization enhancements with the help of templates, feature extensibility and ASP.Net Master Pages are supported.

 The feature set provided under the category of collaboration have some very important improvements in MOSS 2007 as compared to the SharePoint Portal Server 2003.  The core improvement areas are Document Libraries and Outlook Integration and synchronization.

 Document Library Improvements
In the Document Library Improvements, it now supports the
Checking out of documents from document library to local folders
Major and minor version tracking
Version management
Multiple content types within same document library, and
A tree view of Document Library

Outlook integration improvements
In the Outlook integration improvements, it supports
reading and writing to SharePoint objects such as calendar, tasks, contacts, discussions, and documents from within outlook client.
Moreover it supports for synchronization with offline documents which have been checked out for edit in Microsoft outlook from SharePoint Document library.
Also it supports for calendars and Task’s two way synchronization.


The feature area of portal also has a bit of good improvement which includes the following.
Portal Site
-- Integration with Windows SharePoint Services
-- Intranet Portal Template – Topics, Site Directory

 People and Expertise Search
-- People specific search “tab”
-- Social network support

My Site
-- Improved Public Page, Personal homepage
-- Targeting and personalization
-- Easier targeting – Distribution lists and Security Groups

Profile store improvements
-- Scalability, flexible schema, LDAP synchronization

Business Intelligence (BI)

Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server technology didn’t provide any support for the enterprise or business related information to be shared and viewed on the SharePoint portal sites. In MOSS 2007, Microsoft have envisioned and achieved the goal of improving organizations by providing business insights to all employees leading to better, faster, more relevant decisions with the help of new improvements and new features of SharePoint Portal Server.

MOSS 2007 provides these supports with the help of the following features:
-- Excel client/Excel Services
-- Dashboards & Key Performance Indicators

Excel Client is used for creating the spreadsheets and then is published to the MOSS 2007 document libraries. The Excel Services provides features of displaying the Excel files as reports in the web browser.

Dashboard Enables guided and optimized analysis of data by the user/employee. This data is stored in the Dashboards in the form of Aggregate workbooks, reports, scorecards, etc. the Dashboards make the information relevant within in the reports etc. also it annotate data with additional information

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