Though we have done a lot of Microsoft SharePoint projects, I find it difficult to give a single answer to everyone for the question of “What is SharePoint?”. Depending on who (their job role) is asking the question and for what they are asking it, the answer to the question “What is SharePoint” varies. It is different things for different people. One thing is sure – it has been a very successful product franchise for Microsoft and has been the fastest growing Billion Dollar business for Microsoft.
From a technology perspective, it provides Content Management, Document Management, Blogs, Wiki, Rights Management, Workflow, Forms and data capture, Search, a limited RAD (Rapid Application Development) framework and more.
The Microsoft’s site for SharePoint doesn’t make answering this question any easier, it says “Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 is an integrated suite of server capabilities that can help improve organizational effectiveness by providing comprehensive content management and enterprise search, accelerating shared business processes, and facilitating information-sharing across boundaries for better business insight”. After a few words, my head has started to spin – this definition is nothing but a boring soup of all possible technology terms that Microsoft has managed to find. This didn’t help, so let us throw it outside the window.
Till now the elevator pitch for SharePoint I have managed to come up with for answering this has been to say “Connecting People and Information”. This was inspired by the Microsoft .NET initial days messaging that vaguely said Microsoft .NET is software for connecting people, information, systems, and devices. Today I came across this short video that introduces SharePoint in Plain English, finally a good job by Microsoft marketing on this.
On a related note, you may be interested to watch this sneak peek video on the upcoming release of SharePoint, SharePoint 2010 here.