SharePoint as a Content Management System

By Carl Weise posted 08-13-2010 14:35


SharePoint has capabilities as a Content Management System.   It is a collection of technologies and services that are based on the capabilities provided by the SharePoint Foundation or Windows SharePoint Services.  You need to know the variety of SharePoint related components, how they came to be, and how that has impacted the capabilities and perceptions of the products.

First, content is a term used to describe a number of things in your enterprise, ranging from documents, to media files, to data, such as contact lists and calendars.  Since content is digital or electronic, the computer is the primary way that consumers of this content will interact with it.

The system is the physical or logical place where the information is centrally stored, and includes the programmable capabilities or foundations, and the database files.  In a traditional network file system, the content is saved on a hard disk, archive media, or some other storage device or subsystem.  Without an enterprise content and records management system, there is very little management capability in the middle.

The management of content is provided by a database and SharePoint.   Management includes the ways users can interact with systems, how the information is organized, searched and found, who has access to it and how it co-exists with all the other information in your enterprise.

SharePoint is, and always has been, made up of a number of components.  Over time, both the names and the capabilities of these components have changed as the blend of requirements for SharePoint has shifted.  Some of the names may be familiar, for example ‘FrontPage’.  Some less so, such as ‘Office Server Extensions’.  Throughout its evolution, however, the core vision of SharePoint has remained consistent.

The first element of the SharePoint vision is that it is web-based.  SharePoint has never been a desktop application; it has always been web-based.  From its earliest days, it has supported web-based list management.  Originally this component was named ‘TeamPages’ – now it is simply part of the SharePoint core.

From its earlier days, SharePoint has been integrated with the Office suite of products.  From Microsoft Office 97 to Office 2010, users have adopted these tools to become highly productive authors and consumers of content.  By allowing users to collaborate by sharing content through the web, SharePoint has increased the utility of the Office suite, and at the same time made the management of content easier by moving it off the desktop and into more centrally administered locations.

SharePoint has never been a ‘one-size-fits-all’ offering.  Although initially there were two SharePoints – one aimed chiefly at collaboration and the other more focused on portals, search and document management, these two offerings were quickly combined.  Today, SharePoint has a wide variety of site templates that may be adapted and extended to fit the particular style that an organization needs to create, manage and consume information throughout its lifecycle.

Lastly, Microsoft has always understood that it cannot possibly satisfy everyone, since every individual organization’s requirements are unique.  Rather than attempting the impossible, SharePoint has always provided facilities to allow users to combine and extend its facilities so that it can meet their particular requirements.

Tell us about your experience in using SharePoint to manage your content and records?

What did you find to be the biggest obstacles to using SharePoint?

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