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The Point To Sharing

Definition of a killer program: When you first find out about it, everyone else is already using it. The application I am referring to is Windows SharePoint Services (WSS). If you are not using it, then you need to ask yourself why everyone else is.

Perhaps no other application in Microsoft's arsenal has reached critical mass like WSS services. In mid-2004 there were more than 36,000 "personal" SharePoint users at Microsoft alone; since then, the application or service's popularity has spread like whipped cream cheese on a toasty bagel. However, just like the many people who have no idea what a bagel is, there are companies and IT departments who have yet to discover SharePoint. Gentlefolk, start your toasters. You don't know what you are missing.

With its incorporation into Windows Server 2003 R2, WSS availability and continued support is more assured than ever. I first started using SharePoint in 2003, as a project Web site for a huge Active Directory migration that spanned the world. We had more than 100 users working on the site, reviewing architecture documents. Since then, wherever I consult, no matter the size of the project, the first thing I ask the client is, "I need a server for SharePoint--do you have one? And if you are already using it, I need to create a site in it for the project."

The earlier editions of SharePoint shipped with a bunch of standard templates for various uses, such as discussion lists. It was a little clunky, and all your files and resources on it were stored on the local server's hard-disk. More recently, SharePoint stores all configuration information, data and documents in SQL Server.

Today dozens of ISVs as well as Microsoft are creating templates, applications and so-called Web "parts" to run in SharePoint. So fast is SharePoint growing that it will not be long, if not already, before SharePoint becomes the de facto intranet. SharePoint is where you can make it all happen for your users. Forget boring file shares and millions of directories and folders with their silly little gold icons. SharePoint lets users access their files like they access double-shots in the local espresso joint--interacting and joking with fellow caffeine addicts. They can share ideas with fellow SharePointers, read and respond to discussions, send email, inform other users and participate in a rich document-centric environment and group think tank.

Do not confuse SharePoint Portal Server 2003 with WSS. The former is more tailored to "communities," BizTalk integration, News delivery, personalization and so on. However, you will see that you can extend WSS in such a way that it would not make sense to choose SharePoint Portal Server over WSS.

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