...where SharePoint is on a par or even superior to other products in this space.
At a recent Forrester IT Forum conference I attended in Las Vegas, Stephen Powers — the analyst who covers WCM for Forrester — said he believes Microsoft has achieved best-in-class status with its taxonomy and metadata management in SharePoint 2010. In this area Microsoft seems to have leapfrogged the marketplace. In contrast, workflow improvements simply amount to the ability to reuse workflows throughout a site, and across other sites. This ability seems to be the very minimum requirement, but SharePoint 2007 did not support it. More catch-up work to be done.
Basic statistics measurement
Lastly, Microsoft has incorporated some basic statistics measurement into its update. Indeed, the WCM marketplace is positively ablaze with the next generation of web-engagement management, experience management and other new bits of terminology and buzzwords.
SharePoint 2010 offers some basic web statistics on webpage hits and traffic, and will even tell you what search terms your visitors are using on the site. While this is all very useful, in comparison to the best-of-breed WCM vendors, it is still well behind the market leaders.
So what does all this mean to organisations that are either using SharePoint or considering it? If you are using SharePoint 2007 and are struggling with some of these issues, rejoice: this new release could overcome some of your pain.
But do bear in mind though that to use SharePoint 2010, you'll need to upgrade your entire hardware and software stack to 64-bit, including Windows Server and SQL Server.
If you are considering SharePoint as the web content management system for your customer-facing websites, think carefully about where SharePoint stands in comparison with other WCM vendors, and how it maps to your requirements.
Microsoft has gained some ground with this release, but it is still some way off the pace being set by the best-of-breed vendors in this market. If you believe the benefit of having a single integrated suite outweighs its various shortcomings, or if your requirements are relatively simple, then SharePoint may be a good fit.
Something else to consider is the typical SharePoint development cycle of three years. While three-year product release cycles are normal for large enterprise content management projects, three years is a long time on the web. Entire new markets and trends can arise in the span of six months to a year.
Darren Guarnaccia is vice president of product marketing at content management system firm Sitecore, a Microsoft partner. A regular speaker, panellist and moderator at industry events, including Microsoft's 2008 SharePoint conference, Guarnaccia started his career as director of technology for a large financial company and subsequently ran e-commerce operations for a big regional consulting organisation.