Thursday, February 22, 2007

Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2007

Planning and implementing a collaborative extranet environment using SharePoint 2007 brings with it a unique set of challenges that you as a SharePoint administrator must overcome to be successful. Primarily, you want to provide SharePoint sites for your users to collaborate with customers, suppliers, and partners, but you have to be sure that proper security is maintained. You've probably decided that you want to keep extranet user account data stored separately from internal user data, but who is going to manage those extranet users, and how will these user management activities be controlled and audited? What about requests from extranet users for new SharePoint sites? How will requests for new extranet sites be processed and subsequently provisioned?

The solution to the challenges you are facing is our new Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2007 product. ExCM comes in two versions - Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition.

  • ExCM - Standard Edition provides you with a suite of tools to Simplify SharePoint 2007 extranet user access and management. See the ExCM product page for more details.

  • ExCM - Enterprise Edition allows your users to submit a request when he or she would like to have a new SharePoint 2007 site provisioned. You can easily associate custom workflows with the new site requests, asking for approval prior to site creation. Once a site request is approved, ExCM - EE will automatically provision the site for you using any SharePoint 2007 site definition you have specified.
I'm happy to announce that ExCM - Standard Edition is now available for download from our new SharePoint Solutions Software site.
We are actively seeking organizations which are interested in using ExCM - SE to augment the collaborative capabilities of their SharePoint 2007 extranet, and are willing to particpate with us in an implementation case study. Upon completion of the case study implementation, we would want to interview the salient participants and reference them in one or more press releases. If you are interested in working with our team of SharePoint experts to implement ExCM - SE in your SharePoint 2007 extranet, please contact me for further discussion.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New SharePoint BI Course

As everyone is aware, one area of design emphasis for MOSS 2007 is to enable it as an industrial-strength delivery mechanism for Business Intelligence applications. In order for Business Intelligence applications to do any good they have to be accessible and usable and what better way than to use SharePoint as a front-end?

Microsoft has poured many man hours into deepening the integration between MOSS 2007 and its SQL Server and Excel Services business intelligence tools, but to-date has not provided publicly available classroom training on how all of this is designed to work, best practices and tips and tricks.

We have just completed work on a course to do just that: Building Reporting Portals and BI Dashboards with SSRS, Excel Services and MOSS 2007. You can read the full course outline here.

I think this is going to be an outstanding course (first class to be conducted in Nashville, TN on March 6 - 8 and to be conducted regularly in Nashville, Chicago and Dallas thereafter). One of the reasons I think this course will be very good is due to the deep BI experience of the author and lead instructor, Paul Vaughn.

Paul is a 20-year industry veteran and has spent the last four years developing a multi-terabyte data warehouse for a large healthcare company here in Nashville. Nashville is a hot spot for the healthcare industry (the world's largest for-profit hospital chain, HCA, is headquartered here) and the healthcare industry is a huge user of BI applications and technologies. So, Paul has some very relevant and first-hand practical experience to share with his students. This all adds up to an outstanding learning opportunity for those wanting to develop industrial-strength BI applications with MOSS 2007 as the delivery mechanism.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Great example of Office System integration

Yesterday, I delivered the keynote address at the first-ever SharePoint Information Worker Conference. We are holding the conference in Orlando and at 8 a.m. we had a ballroom full of Information Workers eager to see what SharePoint 2007 has to offer that will help them in their daily work. It amazed me that we had attendees from around the world - as far as Kazakhstan.

I think the way Microsoft continues to enhance the integration between all of the Office programs and SharePoint may be the #1 reason why the Office System stands out from the crowd. To this end, I demo'd an application that I developed easily and with no code. The application featured my Pocket PC Phone running Windows Mobile 5.0, OneNote 2007 Mobile, OneNote 2007 on my laptop, MOSS 2007 and Outlook 2007.

In a nutshell, the application involves using the Pocket PC Phone's camera and OneNote Mobile to snap and store a picture of an expense receipt. Then Activesync automatically adds the note to OneNote on the laptop and I quickly annotate the image of the receipt. After that, I publish the OneNote page with the image to a SharePoint document library for the project the receipt relates to. The document library has the out-of-the-box MOSS Approval workflow setup to route the receipt for approval through my boss and then to accounting for reimbursement. Once the approval workflow kicks in, my boss never has to go to the document library to do his part. Instead, he is notified automatically by the workflow via Outlook 2007 and can approve the receipt right in Outlook.

This is the type of application that would have previously required hundreds of development hours to custom develop. Now, all of the pieces are baked right into the Office System. Way to go Office team in Redmond! After the demo, one of the Information Workers in the conference held up a sign with a 9.5 score (out of 10) on it. I took it as a compliment, but who knows, maybe he thought he was judging a figure skating competition :).