Important features of SharePoint 2010 platform

The SharePoint development services allows the users to customize and extend the core capabilities of the platform to cater to their unique needs. Launched by Microsoft, SharePoint has significantly evolved since its release in 2001, adding new capabilities and functionalities that makes working on this platform a seamless procedure.

Before proceeding to understand how to choose the vendor for SharePoint services, it is important to understand the host of new features and enhancements that the new SharePoint 2010 offers.

Improved user interface including Ribbon

Whenever, one organization contacts the SharePoint based Help Desk, they are eager to know about certain new enhancements or capabilities in the SharePoint platform. The user interface in 2010 has completely changed and the organizations can now do more with very few clicks of their mouse. Things like “Site Actions” menu has moved to the left side of the page, and there are a host of new options available in the menu. The overall look and feel of the SharePoint 2010 platform is completely different from 2007 version, where asynchronous user interface using AJAX and SilverLight which leads to minimal postbacks and improved performance of the site.

However, the biggest modification in the user interface is the addition of the Ribbon UI. This was first introduced in the 2007 version of SharePoint. However, the same Ribbon UI is available in the newer version which allows user experience to be in sync with other office applications. The ribbon is visible on top of any page in SharePoint 2010 version. Furthermore, the users can access multiple operations from the ribbon. It changes automatically for edit or view mode of the page. It also changes according to what the user is searching for in the page, like if one opens a documentary library, it would display documentary library related operations.

Built in Silver Light Support

The SharePoint 2010 version allows the users to add various components of Silver Light without any additional configuration. However, first the user has to upload Silver Light XAP file into the documentary library and then add SharePoint’s OOTB Silver Light web parts on a page and direct it to the respective XAP file uploaded in the documentary library. Silver Light XAP component is successfully added and displayed on the page.

Rich and improved theming support

Various vendors always provide for a SharePoint based Help Desk to understand features better, but the platform is such that it is very easy to use and maintain. The next important feature of SharePoint 2010 is the built in office style themes that are similar to that of Word and PowerPoint. The user can choose and apply the theme to alter the look and feel of the website as per the selected theme. The change can then be previewed before applying it. The SharePoint 2010 version also imports themes from Microsoft PowerPoint or you can create your own custom themes for the website.

Multiple browser support

The new SharePoint 2010 version offers support to Internet Explorer 7 or 8, Firefox and Safari. However, it is not designed to support Explorer version 6.0 or less. Furthermore, there is still no news of whether it will support Chrome or Opera. One can always take the help of SharePoint based Help Desk to understand better.

Rich media support and digital asset management

The 2010 version of SharePoint offers various Rich Media capabilities which makes it easier for users to share videos, images and audio or for that matter any other kind of media files. There is a new asset library that has been introduced in this version which is designed to manage and share digital assets like video, audio and images. Furthermore, couple of web parts and controls has also been introduced to streamline the Digital Asset Management process. SharePoint 2010 includes a Media web part built using Silverlight, Video content type, Audio content type, and Image content type.

SharePoint Workspace

The Microsoft Office Groove has been renamed to SharePoint Workspace in 2010 version. The SharePoint Workspace provides capabilities such as local and offline read and write access to various lists and libraries and incorporates offline and online synchronization. It not only has a new name, but the Workspace has some improved features and a better design.

Sandboxed solutions

In SharePoint 2007, the SharePoint based Help Deskwould tell you that all solutions i.e. .WSP runs with full trust which requires farm administrators to pitch in and deploy the necessary solutions. Furthermore, the solutions can be deployed at minimum at a web application level which means it would be applicable for all site collectors that are available on that application.

In 2010 version, the Sandboxed solutions are called User Solutions which is a complete new capability that would address the above mentioned issue by enabling site collection administrators to deploy necessary solutions at the site collection level. This would be safe to run and not affect any other site collections and web applications that are operating within the farm. Various farm administrators can monitor sandboxed solutions and place restrictions on resources such as memory and CPU cycles which can be used. The Sandboxed solution does not cover the entire SharePoint object model but it uses key scenarios like customized web parts and event receivers.

Stsadm command line tool outmoded by Windows PowerShell 2.0

In SharePoint 2010, Windows PowerShell 2.0 has outmoded the Stsadm command-line tool.  The 2010 version still supports the Stsadm command line tool for backward compatibility with previous product versions. However, it is recommended to use Windows PowerShell 2.0 when doing some kind of command line administrative tasks.

Redesigned central administrative website

The SharePoint Server 2010 has a redesigned Central Administration web site which provides a better user experience and makes it easier for admins to find out what they are searching for. When accessing the Central Administration groups major functional areas, all tasks are listed under one area. If still unable to look for something or having problem in understanding a capability, one can always take the help of SharePoint based Help Desk which is capable enough to solve all issues. The Central Administration website is also integrated with Ribbon UI, which allows the admins to view, or change details by making common configuration options to be just a click away.

Shared Service Provider doesn’t exist anymore

In the 2010 version, the Shared Service Providers (SSP’s) are no longer available. Service Applications in SharePoint 2010 have replaced the SSP’s. All the services were combined into a SSP in the 2007 version. In 2010, all services are operable as independent Service Application wherein one can select and configure from the available services for a particular web application.

New hardware and software requirements

The SharePoint 2010 version will only be shipped as 64-bit product, and therefore, if there are any plans of upgrading the platform from a 32 bit SharePoint 2007, there is a definite need to upgrade quite a lot. There would be hardware requirements including x64 edition of either Windows Server 2008 or Server 2008 R2 and it would also require a 64-bit version of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2005.

Business Connectivity Services (BCS)

With the Business Connectivity Services (BCS) the platform gives read or write access to external data from line of business systems, databases, web services and any other external systems with Microsoft SharePoint 2010. It supports all the features provided by the Business Data Catalog together with a host of new features and capabilities.

But sometimes, organizations look beyond the capabilities and search for vendors who would be able to maintain the platform. However, there are many fears that abounds a large enterprise and one of them is migrating to a top level software and application and how it can affect the business adversely. This migration is often taken with precautionary measures and careful mitigation to ensure that there is no loss of data or any other disasters that can lead the business to lose time, data or any cause any security issues. This is infact, one of the most valid reasons, which is almost true, because besides getting the migration completed, there are thousand other adhoc work that needs expertise and skills to be achieved. Therefore, when an organization decides to outsource their SharePoint migration project, they are usually vary of the entire process, not only because of the huge investments involved but also because losing valuable time would mean a competitor’s gaining advantage.

This is the reason that there are SharePoint based Help Desk that is suddenly mushrooming in all parts of the globe who offers enterprises with the much needed aid to decide whether to outsource. Despite the available help, confusions still abound especially when there is a need to identify the correct vendor for the job who would come with the proven expertise, agility to act and the needed technical capability to address the needs of the business. The chosen vendor should also offer transparency in their operations and should be capable enough of delivering exactly what is needed before time. To have all this and achieve your goals, all these requirements needs to be fulfilled. The article discusses some basic pointers that can be followed when choosing SharePoint migration vendor in India.

Experience

It is needless to say, the longer the vendor is associated with migration services, the chances are that the more number of projects it would have worked on. This would mean a better SharePoint based Help Desk because the vendor would be more familiar with the business domain and the activities needed by the business would be better understood. Each nuances of the domain is understood and analyzed carefully. To cite an instance, if one is responsible for the IT needs of an insurance company, the vendor should be aware of the basic technicalities of insurance, including underwriting, member enrollment, claim processing etc. Therefore, it becomes important to check the portfolio of the vendor to understand what work has been done before.

Expertise

Expertise is different from experience. One may have lot of experience in an area but they may lack the expertise needed to execute a particular action. It may not prove to be feasible if the SharePoint based Help Desk is not aware of a single migration process, even though it may have some experience in site branding procedures.

Transparency

Whenever there is a work that needs to be done offshore, the first thing that any organization fears is of losing control. Taking a detailed look on various kind of project management practices, daily reporting of tasks and maintenance of the dashboards with work update is something that would help. All this would not only increase the accountability, but then you would be aware about the intensity of the work going on. Lack of such procedures would mean lack of trust and therein lead to misalignment and other issues. It is a common fear in organizations regarding transparency especially between the service providers and them. SharePoint based Help Deskis something that the organization expects and if the processes are unclear, it is the organization that suffers the most. This is the reason that transparency is a required quality for the service providers. Therefore, having some kind of 24/7 support is what is expected of such companies.

Scalability and Support

Another important area, which needs careful thought, is scalability and its requisite support. If the organization is growing and there is a sudden increase in manpower, the service provider for SharePoint should be able to provide you with the necessary support and SharePoint based Help Desk. Most of the vendors should be able to provide you with dedicated services for the same and support projects that spans across various geographies and industries. There should be programmers and dedicated maintenance teams that would be ready to push the limits when the need arises.

Therefore, whether the organization decides to opt for SharePoint 2010 in their minds or need the latest version, one should always approach vendors with these things in mind so that the project developed is capable enough of handling the requirements of the company as needed be.