Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Alternatives to SharePoint – Are there really any good ones if standardization and integration is a high priority for you and you have broad needs?

Man, the negative articles from the media about SharePoint just seem to keep coming.alternatives to sharepoint
Here are some recent articles that I have read in the news:

I think all of this stuff is a load of crap!  It is designed to get people to read stuff and pay for it by looking at and clicking on advertisements, or pay for it with cash in the case of Gartner’s report.

Folks, the install base of SharePoint on-premises is HUGE!  There is certainly not the level of new customer adoption that there was in the early days, but I believe the number of organizations and users that are using SharePoint around the globe is really mind-boggling if we actually could see the true numbers.

Is there really a good alternative to SharePoint?  I believe the answer remains as true today as much as it was 5 years ago:

There is no other software platform on the planet that offers anywhere close the level of standardization and integration that SharePoint and complimentary Microsoft products do in the following categories:
  • Document Management (DM)
  • Team Collaboration (TC)
  • Corporate Intranet\Portal (CI)
  • Public Website Content Management System (WCM)
  • Business Intelligence platform (BI)
  • Records Management (RM)
  • Business Process Automation platform (BPM)
  • Enterprise Search Engine (ES)
  • Social Collaboration platform (SC)
  • Corporate People Directory (PD)
  • Alerting Engine (AE)
  • Extranet Collaboration Site Development platform (ED)
  • Community Development platform (CD)
  • Email, Instant Messaging, Video Conferencing and Enterprise Communication (technically provided by Exchange and Lync, but they are tightly integrated with SharePoint and vice versa) (CM)
I’ve probably missed a few categories of functionality that SharePoint and complimentary Microsoft products (Office, Exchange, Lync) provide, but I think I have listed the biggest ones.

One category that I intentionally left off the list is Mobile Integration (MI).  SharePoint has it, but I don’t think it is really up to snuff yet, even in SharePoint 2013  (Aside:  I feel like I can say this because we have written comprehensive SharePoint 2013 training curriculum).

To me, what is most impressive about this list is NOT the detailed list of features that fall into each of these categories, but IT IS the fact that all of this comes in one system that is tightly integrated.  If standardization and integration are important to you, you are really crazy if you don’t seriously consider using SharePoint for as many of these applications as you possibly can.

What other frequently-mentioned solutions are there out there that can compete?  Let’s go through some and see if they really can:
(Note:  I use the two letter abbreviations I used in the list above in the following analysis).
Google Apps for Business
Includes:  DM, TC, ES, SC, PD, AE, CM, MI
Does not include: CI, WCM, BI, RM, BPM, ED
Level of Integration:  Good
Cloud, On-premises, or both:  Cloud only Platform
Includes: DM, BPM, SC, PD, ED, CD, CM, MI
Does not include:  TC, CI, WCM, BI, RM, ES, AE
Level of Integration:  Good
Cloud, On-premises or both:  Cloud only for business
Includes: DM, TC, MI
Does not include: BPM, SC, PD, ED, CD, CM, TC, CI, WCM, BI, RM, ES, AE
Level of Integration: So few applications, not really much to integrate with
Cloud, On-premises or both:  Cloud only
Includes: DM, TC, CI, ES, SC, PD, CD, ED, MI
Does not include: BPM, WCM, BI, RM, CM
Level of Integration:  Good
Cloud, On-premises or both: Both
Office 365
Includes: DM, TC, MI, BPM, SC, PD, ED, CD, CM, TC, CI, WCM, RM, ES, AE
Does not include: BI
Level of Integration:  Excellent
Cloud, On-premises or both:  Cloud only
Obviously, from this analysis, it looks like Office 365 is the strongest competitor.  I would say it clearly is if you are a business that is OK with having all of your data and content under the control of Microsoft in its data center.

(Microsoft thinks that a lot of businesses will eventually come around to this idea and are pushing hard in this direction with as much muscle as they can.  Will they succeed in pushing their huge SharePoint customer base from on-premises to Office 365?  I really don’t think so, unless they just flat out stop making on-premises software all together.  People like to own their stuff if they possibly can.  Its just human nature.)

So, again, are there really any good alternatives to SharePoint if you place a high priority on standardization and integration and need all the applications it has to offer?