Friday, 26 September 2008

To choose or not to choose? No, pay now or pay later

One more thought… if SharePoint looks like the easy option, but in reality it needs to be managed and configured well is it really such as easy option? Actually, maybe the question is who exactly is SharePoint the easy option for?

Holding that thought, lets also not forget that SharePoint isn’t the only portal platform out there (yes, its a portal – even if we try to  treat it purely as an intranet publishing, records management or collaboration platform [delete as appropriate]).

As a reminder of what that space looks like, Gartner have recently updated their horizontal portal research note (care of Vignette), which includes the following vendors in the leaders group:

  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle
  • SAP
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Vignette

Gartner also think that by 2011, 10% of the major enterprises will be using open source portal systems (e.g. Red Hat JBoss and Liferay). Mashup-based (composite applications) and Rich Internet Application (RIA) approaches will also have an impact on how organisations go about building portals. I would also include the impact of enhanced enterprise wiki platforms in addition to the vendors Gartner considers in scope for this analysis.

There are a couple of comments in the report about other vendors that are worth mentioning because they also reflect my own experience:

  • WebSphere has strengths in “complex deployment scenarios, including high-scalability environments” (I know of one organisation that uses SharePoint, but only trusts WebSphere for mission critical applications) – the downside is that its more expensive.
  • SAP Portal, like SharePoint, is popular where SAP is already deployed – unfortunately, the portal  “[user interface] rigidity has constrained use cases” (I think we know what Gartner are politely trying to say here…).
  • Vignette is hanging in there as a leading platform, however right now I don’t think their Web 2.0 capabilities live up to the hype.

But even if there are plenty of vendor choices out there, pragmatically is that really an argument for putting the necessary effort into selecting a product rather than simply sticking with that easy option (be that SharePoint, SAP Portal or otherwise)?

Since every portal has its pros or cons, if we follow the 80-20 rule the real choice is about deciding if you want to pick the 20% gap you will accept or accepting that you are going to have to learn about the 20% gap that you don’t know about when you pick that easy option.

In other words, you can pay now or pay later.

1 comment:

  1. Hi James, I thought you might like to know that Liferay are releasing new functionality that will allow users to save from Microsoft Office directly to the Liferay Document Library using the SharePoint protocols; in other words, Office will think it's talking directly to a SharePoint instance.

    Current functionality is limited to saving, opening, and versioning, but we'll be working on other aspects such as workflow, calendaring and contacts management.

    Bryan Cheung


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