October 21, 2009

Microsoft SharePoint VP hails ‘Swiss Army Knife’ software platform

In an interview with InfoWorld, Microsoft’s Jeff Teper also cites room for open source tie-ins to the commercial SharePoint platform

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Microsoft this week rolled out the red carpet for the upcoming SharePoint 2010 collaboration platform. This release offers tight integration with the Visual Studio 2010 platform and a host of other functions such as offline support. SharePoint Server 2010 goes into a beta release next month.

This week’s Microsoft SharePoint 2009 conference in Las Vegas sold out, attracting 7,400 persons. During the conference, InfoWorld editor at large Paul Krill talked with Jeff Teper, Microsoft corporate vice president of SharePoint Server, about the new release and its relationship to the open source movement, as well as other aspects of the platform.

[ Also on InfoWorld: At the conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered his perspectives on SharePoint and IT as a driver of economic recovery. ]

InfoWorld: You mentioned SharePoint as a Swiss Army Knife for IT. Would you elaborate on that?

Jeff Teper: In the past you had to buy a separate product for document management and Web publishing and portals and search and blogs and wikis, and SharePoint 2007 brought all those capabilities together in a single product. I think that’s something no other vendor has done. And SharePoint 2010, we added a lot of depth to each of those capabilities. I don’t think there’s anybody else out there that’s got a single product with, say, wikis and business intelligence portals in the same offering.

InfoWorld: Do you really think there’s nothing out there that competes with SharePoint?

Teper: We get compared to everything from Facebook to SAP. But at the same time, we do think there is no single offering in the market that is anywhere near as broad as SharePoint, that we bring more capabilities together in an integrated Web solution than anybody else by far. I think that’s a fair statement. That’s different than saying we have everything that all the other guys have combined. I think we have the most of anything by far, but we don’t have everything everybody else has.

InfoWorld: How does SharePoint compete with something like open source when it seems like everybody’s talking about open source, even Microsoft to a degree? Is Microsoft concerned about somebody coming up with an open source answer to SharePoint?

Teper: That’s part of the success of SharePoint. People will target it from different sides, so there are going to be some open source solutions. The ones that are out there tend to cover a small percentage of what we do, just like how OpenOffice tried to compete with Office. It’s a validation of the success. I don’t think there’s anything out there in the open source world that’s competitive to SharePoint from an all-out perspective, but I would expect a lot of activity from that.

InfoWorld: What open source products would compete?

Teper: A lot of them are toolkits for building Web sites, which are sort of lower level than SharePoint. A few years ago, there were some things called Plone and Zope that were open source Web publishing systems, but those have sort of gone by the wayside. Basically, the things that come closest have been PHP toolkits for building Web sites, but they really don’t do as much as we do for the full set of publishing and collaboration tasks.

InfoWorld: Is there any chance of Microsoft open sourcing anything in SharePoint?

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I love the “Swiss Army Knife” part 🙂

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