SharePoint: The Lotus Notes of This Generation

Believe it or not, Lotus Notes is still around and being used in some organizations, but the favored content management / workgroup app of the day is Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server, according to a recent Forrester report (read John Fontana's article for all the details.) There is so much information floating around in our computers, inboxes, file servers, network drives, and wiki servers that it's just about unusable these days.

It's been long since I could use shared folders on the network drive, or any content ladened wiki server (other than Wikipedia) to find anything. Now I shriek in horror when someone says "It's on the shared drive" or "You can find it on the wiki." I've long given up on network drive and wiki technologies for content management. Give me a good search engine and I'm much happier than digging around on some poorly organized dumping ground called a file server.

But SharePoint goes much farther than "yet another web portal" to load up and organization your documents. SharePoint is a place to create information apps, productivity portals, and document storage. SharePoint's really an information and collaboration app platform. The same thing happened with Lotus Notes back in the '90s. The thing was so handy and extensible that people turned it into platforms that hosted full blown mission critical applications (many times by accident.) Given the Lotus Notes flexible architecture and data replication strategy, the Lotus Notes app sprawl eventually led to its downfall.

Rather than running out of gas in the same way, SharePoint is just now hitting its stride. I think may be just an inflection point on the way to further and further growth. The focus today is on SharePoint Servers in the enterprise and all sizes of businesses. With Microsoft's hosted model for SharePoint, the emergence of cloud storage, data synchronization and productivity apps decoupled from the Windows desktop, SharePoint has a big role to play in Ozzie's Microsoft Mesh strategy.

Get used to SharePoint. It's going to be with us for a long time coming.

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