SharePoint is a web application platform in the Microsoft Office server suite. Launched in 2001, SharePoint combines various functions which are traditionally separate applications: intranet, extranet, content management, document management, personal cloud, enterprise social networking, enterprise search, business intelligence, workflow management, web content management, and an enterprise application store. SharePoint servers have traditionally been deployed for internal use in mid-size businesses and large departments alongside Microsoft Exchange, Skype for Business, and Office Web Application Server; but Microsoft’s ‘Office 365’ software as a service offering (which includes a version of SharePoint) has led to increased usage of SharePoint in smaller organizations.
The most common uses of the SharePoint include:
Enterprise Content and Document Management
SharePoint is often used to store, track, and manage electronic documents and assets. Integration with the Office Suite, Office Apps on Mobile Devices, and Office Web Apps enable editing scenarios, while OneDrive for Business (or third-party tools) enable offline synchronization. It provides integrated version history tracking, collaborative live editing, and search capabilities. These capabilities are configurable to comply with record management or legal discovery requirements. SharePoint also provides search and ‘graph’ functionality enabling tracking of projects, documents, and users.Centralised location for storing, versioning, and collaborating on documents significantly reduce dependence on email for collaboration.
SharePoint Server hosts OneDrive for Business, which allows storage and synchronization of files across devices, and public/private file sharing.
Intranet & Corporate Social Network
A SharePoint intranet or intranet portal is a way to centralize access to enterprise information and applications. It is a tool that helps a company manage its internal communications, applications and information more easily. Microsoft claims that this has organizational benefits such as increased employee engagement, centralizing process management, reducing new staff on-boarding costs, and providing the means to capture and share tacit knowledge (e.g. via tools such as wikis/blogs).
Extranet & Web Content Management
SharePoint can be used to provide web-facing access to external users. Organizations often use functionality like this to integrate third parties into supply chain or business processes, to provide a shared collaboration environment, or as part of delivering a product to a customer.
Using the ‘Publishing’ features, SharePoint can be used to manage public websites. It has publishing workflow, authoring, multilingual, and scaling features suited to managing larger websites.
SharePoint’s development stack provides an additional layer of services and that reduce custom development required to provide a working application. It may also be referred to as a web application framework. SharePoint 2013’s “App Development” model provides these services through standards such as REST, SAML, and JSONP. A multitude of APIs enable enterprise application developers to exploit SharePoint’s security and information management capabilities across a variety of development platforms and scenarios.
Successive versions (in chronological order):
Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2001
Microsoft SharePoint Team Services (2002)
Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 (free license) – Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 (commercial release)
Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (free license) – plus Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (commercial extension)
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 (free) – plus Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 (commercial extension for Foundation), and SharePoint Enterprise 2010 (commercial extension for Server)
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2013 (free) – plus Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 (extension on top of Foundation)
A next SharePoint release is announced for 2016, Jeff Teper, the Corporate Vice President of Office Service and Servers group at Microsoft, noted: “Our server releases will include some, but not all, of the experience you saw today due to the computational power and integrated aspects that only come with Office 365.
OpenText Enterprise Content Management