Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000 SharePoint Portal Server Deployment Kit

 

Chapter 1

Overview of Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Grasdal

Dr. Thomas W Shinder

December 2003

 

 


Table of Contents

 

Abstract 3

Solving the Problem of Document Management 4

Relationship of Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server 2003. 5

Features of Windows SharePoint Services. 6

Features of SharePoint Portal Server 2003. 7

Whatís New in SharePoint Portal Server 2003. 9

Summary. 11

 

 

 


Abstract

The challenges that many organizations face in managing information and knowledge are enormous.Poor information results in poor decisions.Timely, accurate, and seamless access to appropriate and sufficiently detailed information is critical to providing support for an organizationís decision-making capabilities. When information and knowledge is dispersed in different locations and in heterogeneous formats, the costs to organizations in terms of time, money, and effort to provide effective access to and manage that information can be significant.Developers may have to know how to programmatically gain access to data that may be stored in a variety of different back-end servers and applications, which increases development time and costs. Users have to know where appropriate data is located and may have to use a variety of different interfaces to search for and locate data, taking time away from other tasks they have to perform. Also, organizations need to provide effective communication and collaborations tools to enable knowledge workers to work together in teams to complete projects efficiently and to support the organizationís overall decision-making capability. This document discusses how SharePoint Portal Server 2003 solves these problems and makes it easier than ever to facilitate document management and team collaboration.

 

 

 


 

 

Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 is based on and comprises a superset of the services available through Windows SharePoint Services (formerly known as Windows SharePoint Team Services). Both applications are designed to provide flexible and effective knowledge management solutions to businesses and other organizations that have a need for better collaboration, communication, and information sharing among users.

 

Many organizations face complex and difficult challenges with regard to effective management of information.Knowledge workers often must collaborate with each other in teams to create, review, and change documents. To perform this work, users have to be able to communicate with one another, easily find documents and other information, alert other users of document changes, and employ some form approval workflow for document versions.Furthermore, security has to be enforced on documents to make sure documents are available for reviewing and editing only to those who should have access to them, thereby ensuring confidentiality and integrity of information.

Solving the Problem of Document Management

Organizations have traditionally met these challenges to provide effective management of information in a variety of ways. Almost all methods usually leverage features already available in the applications and services that are currently deployed on their networks.

 

For example, shared directories are implemented on file servers to store documents the team needs access to for document creation, review and approval.Alternatively, these documents are stored in databases, such as Microsoft Exchange Public Folders that provide common access to team members. Team members can employ features available in Microsoft Word and other applications to preserve changes to versions of documents and to route them to others for review and approval.

 

Providing effective management of information using only these traditional methods creates difficulties for many organizations.Users may have trouble finding information they need because there is no common, searchable index allowing them to easily find and retrieve the information with a minimum of effort. Organizations often have to enlist the skills of myriad developers to provide programmatic access to a wide variety of back-end data sources, increasing the costs to the organization.

 

When information is stored on file servers, users are often forced to navigate different folder hierarchies that may not been designed with effective retrieval of information in mind and to use a variety of interfaces to execute searches for information.Notification of changes to documents requires that users manually initiate communication with other team members.Preservation of changes to documents requires that users enable the feature to track changes to the document.

 

When documents are stored in file shares, it is not possible to know if two or more users are locally modifying a document at the same time. This makes document collaboration very difficult.Ensuring appropriate permissions on information found in a variety of storage types and locations, such as file shares, databases, and web sites, increases administrative complexity and effort.

 


Organizations need to implement a solution that has at least the following characteristics to provide effective management of information:

 

         The ability to easily and accurately search, find, and retrieve information regardless of its location or storage type with the least effort on the part of the user.

         The ability to provide automatic notification of changes to documents and other important information to appropriate team members.

         The ability to preserve (and prune) document versions.

         The ability to ensure that documents can not be edited by more than one person at a time.

         The ability to ensure that document security is maintained with a minimum of administrative effort.

         The ability to implement a workflow approval process for documents.

         The ability to provide a scalable solution that meets the needs of future growth.

 

Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 is designed to meet these and other essential business needs by leveraging a variety of services and technologies available on Windows 2003, such as Internet Information Services (IIS), SQL Server 2000, HTTP-DAV, and ASP.Net.

 

SharePoint Portal Server 2003 integrates with other applications and systems to provide users with flexible and easy to use ways to find, access, and use data.These applications and systems include Microsoft Office Systems, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Microsoft BizTalk Server. Support for 3rd-party applications includes PeopleSoft, SAP-AG, and Siebel.SharePoint Server 2003 provides access to knowledge-management services, such as notifications, alerts, approval workflow, document versioning, document profile management, and others.

 

In addition, SharePoint Portal Server 2003 provides people with a single point of access to information stored throughout organizations in a variety locations and storage types.Access to information and knowledge-management services occurs through web-based portal sites. A portal site aggregates access to and searching of different sources of information, such as Microsoft Exchange Public Folders and Mailboxes, file shares, other SharePoint Server 2003 Sites, and Lotus Notes databases, into a single web site.The portal web sites are based on technologies and services, such as Web Part Pages and Document Libraries, delivered by Windows SharePoint Services.

Relationship of Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server 2003

Windows SharePoint Services provide the foundation for SharePoint Portal Server 2003.With SharePoint Services, users can easily create and manage Web sites that facilitate document collaboration and provide a shared workspace for team members to more easily accomplish their work as a group.SharePoint Services is easy to set up, provides a high degree of functionality with little or no additional configuration, and provides a high degree of integration with Microsoft Office 2003. These features allow SharePoint sites to be used either as a permanent workspace or as an ad-hoc workspace to perform particular group- or individual-oriented tasks.


Features of Windows SharePoint Services

Windows SharePoint Services provides a number of core tools and services to enable efficient team collaboration. These include the following:

 

         Libraries.A library provides a common, shared storage area for files that team members use.There are 3 types of libraries: document libraries, picture libraries, and form libraries.Although any kind of file of can be stored in any type of library, there are advantages to storing files in their corresponding library type. For example, XML-based forms can more easily be managed in a form library, and thumbnail views of pictures are supported in picture libraries. Libraries support document check-in, check-out, and versioning.When versioning is enabled, multiple versions of files (along with a version history) are preserved, making it possible to easily rollback undesirable changes.

         Document Workspaces.A document workspace is a SharePoint Services site centered on one or more documents to make possible sharing of specific documents among team members.Document workspaces can be easily created with Office System 2003 applications or through the browser view of document libraries.

         Meeting Workspaces. A meeting workspace makes it possible to more easily organize meetings. With a meeting workspace, users can publish the agenda, appropriate documents and attendee list for the meeting.

         Discussion Boards.Discussion boards facilitate better communication among team members by allowing them create and participate in threaded discussions centered on documents or projects.

         Lists.A list is collection of information items that are shared among team members on the SharePoint site.SharePoint comes with a number of pre-defined lists. These include lists for hypertext links, announcements, contacts, events, tasks, and issues. SharePoint users can also create their own custom lists to be shared among team members. Lists can be created from the browser, from MS Office applications, and spreadsheets.

         Searching.When used in conjunction with the Full-text search capability available in the full versions of SQL Server 2000, SharePoint Services provides powerful search capabilities for finding relevant information within the lists and document libraries of the SharePoint Site.

         Alerts.An alert makes it possible for team members to be notified by email and other mechanisms whenever additions, deletions, or other changes occur to files or other areas of interest.Alerts can be scheduled to occur immediately or batched on a daily or weekly basis.

         Web Part Pages.A Web Part Page aggregates dynamic information from a variety of different information sources into a single web page. Web Part Pages provide users with customized information that is relevant to specific tasks or projects. For example, a Web Part Page could include announcements, contact lists, and task schedules centered on a particular project or department.

         Web Parts.Web Parts are the fundamental building blocks of web part pages.A Web Part is a pre-compiled modular unit consisting of two or more files.Using Web Parts, people are able to quickly and easily build useful Web Part Pages that contain relevant information and functionality.††


Features of SharePoint Portal Server 2003

Intended for deployment in medium-to-large-sized organizations, SharePoint Portal Server 2003 extends the services and functionality of SharePoint Services.In addition to providing all of the features of SharePoint Services, SharePoint Portal Server 2003 includes the following core features to enable an effective enterprise-wide knowledge-management solution:

 

         Topic Areas.Topic areas are used to organize information according to shared or similar characteristics.Organizing information into topics according to logically consistent categories provides users with an intuitive way to find relevant information quickly and easily.

         Audiences.Audiences allow content, such as Web Parts, lists, and news, to be targeted to SharePoint users based on their shared or common needs. An Audience can be based on a Windows security group, distribution list, or properties of user profiles. Using Audiences makes it easier to ensure that users have easy access to content that is specifically relevant to their job tasks or roles.

         Active Directory Integration. SharePoint Portal Server 2003 can crawl and index user profile information stored in Active Directory. Because of the integration with Active Directory, users can manage their own profile information through the portal.

         User Profiles. User Profiles contain information about SharePoint users that can be used to connect people across an organization with one another. User Profiles can be extracted from Active Directory, or they can be created manually.The properties of User Profiles can be used to create Audiences to target content.Users can modify their own profile information through the MySite feature.††

         MySite.MySite allows SharePoint Portal Server 2003 users to create personal sites and control information stored in their user profiles and viewable by others in the organization.†† MySite includes the functionality of a SharePoint Services site. Depending on permissions granted to users, they can customize their personal site by adding and manipulating Web Parts.Users can also create their own document libraries and perform other tasks that would be available in a SharePoint Services site.

         Site Directory. The Site Directory is a centralized directory that provides meaningful ways to organize and display web sites accessible through the portal. This makes it easier for users to locate relevant information. Administrators can create views that filter, sort, and group site information.

         Searching.With SharePoint Portal Server 2003, searches can be extended from the portal site to include other SharePoint Sites, Web sites (including those that use SSL), Exchange Public Folders, file servers, and Lotus Notes databases.

         Single Sign-On.Single Sign-On enables SharePoint Portal Server 2003 users to gain access (from the portal) to information and services delivered by 3rd-party applications without requiring separate login credentials, regardless of whether the application uses a different authentication mechanism.

         Shared Services.Shared Services make it easier to deploy a distributed and scalable SharePoint Portal Server 2003 solution.Shared Services make it possible to implement SharePoint Servers across server farms without unnecessary and redundant duplication of services.

 


The following table shows a comparative matrix of some of the features that are available in SharePoint Portal Server 2001 (SPS 2001), Windows SharePoint Services (WSS), and SharePoint Portal Server 2003 (SPS 2003).

 

Feature

SPS 2001

WSS

SPS 2003

Description

Document check-in/check-out

Yes

Yes

Yes

Documents must be in a check-out state in order to be edited, mitigating risk that two people are working locally on the same document at the same time.

Versioning

Yes

Yes

Yes

Copies of document versions are retained, mitigating risk of accidental loss of data.

Workflow Approval

Yes

Limited

Yes

Information is not made publicly available unless it is approved according to approval rules.

Document Libraries

Limited

Yes

Yes

Allows sharing of files for site users.WSS and SPS 2003 support additional types of libraries, such as Picture and Form libraries. Libraries in WSS and SPS 2003have enhanced functionality, eg., the ability to block file types and display thumbnail views of pictures.

Document Workspace

No

Yes

Yes

Gives users the ability to quickly and easily created a shared workspace centered on one or more documents.

Meeting Workspace

No

Yes

Yes

Gives users the ability to create a place where they can manage meetings by providing attendee lists, collateral documents, times, etc.

Search

Yes

Limited

 

Yes

Allows for searching of content within site and other content sources.Search capability in WSS limited to WSS site. Requires SQL 2000 full-text search component to enable searches in WSS and SPS 2003.

Index different file type content

Yes

Yes

Yes

Allows content of different file types to be indexed for searching.Support for MS Visio and MS Publisher file types in WSS and SPS 2003 in addition to file types supported by SPS 2001.

Active Directory Integration

No

No

Yes

SPS 2003 can index user profiles stored in AD.Users can manage profile information through SPS site.

Alerts

Yes

Yes

Yes

Formerly know as subscriptions in SPS 2001. Allows users to be notified when information changes.WSS and SPS 2003 have enhanced alert functionality, eg., providing alerts on people and on lists.

Topics

Yes

No

Yes

Formerly known as categories in SPS 2001. Provides a way to group content according to shared characteristics

Audiences

No

No

Yes

Allows for information to be targeted to groups that have similar needs.

Browser-based

Customization

Limited

Yes

Yes

Allows for customization of web pages through browser.Functionality of SPS 2003 and WSS browser-based customization is much enhanced over SPS 2001

Discussion Boards

Yes

Yes

Yes

Allows for items to be discussed.Much greater functionality in WSS and SPS 2003, eg., discussion threads can be subject to approval before being made public.

Web Folder

Yes

Yes

Yes

Using HTTP-DAV protocol, web content is make available through a web folder in Windows Explorer as if content were stored in a traditional file share.

Surveys

No

Yes

Yes

Allows site users to be polled for input.Survey results calculated and rendered immediately on site.

Lists

Limited

Yes

Yes

Allows users and site mangers to create a wide variety of list types.Support for lists is greatly enhanced in WSS and SPS 2003.

Presence

No

Yes

Yes

Provides the ability to determine who is online and available for communication.

Single Sign-on

No

No

Yes

Allows users to gain access to 3rd-party applications without have to provide separate login credentials.

Shared Services

No

No

Yes

Allows SPS 2003 servers to use services provided by another SPS 2003 server.

Whatís New in SharePoint Portal Server 2003

Many of the features described above are either new to SharePoint Portal Server 2003 or represent an enhancement of features available in SharePoint Portal Server 2001.†† Among the new features described above are:

         MySite

         Single Sign-On

         Site Directory

         Audiences

         Shared Services

         User Profiles

         Picture Libraries

         Active Directory integration.

 

The new and enhanced features of SharePoint Portal Server 2003 make it more functional, easier to use, easier to customize, easier to extend, and easier to administer than SharePoint Portal Server 2001. The following is a brief summary of some of these new and enhanced features in addition to those described above. For a more complete list of new and enhanced features, please see http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint.

 

SharePoint Portal Server 2003 is more extensible than its predecessor.SharePoint Portal Server 2003 Sites are built using the ASP.NET framework to realize greater efficiencies and functionality over the previous version and to provide enhanced extensibility. ASP.NET reduces the length and complexity of code that would be required to create similar functionality using ASP.Also, ASP.NET makes it easier to use the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) layer to access the object model and manage application session states. For example, SharePoint Portal Server 2003 submits SQL queries using SOAP.

 

Searching for content is improved.Full-text searching is supported when either the Standard or Enterprise Editions of SQL Server 2000 are used.Search results can now be grouped by author, site, date and category. Users can expand or collapse results by site and pivot the view according to various categories.It is now possible to index and search for content stored in Visio and Microsoft Publisher files, in addition to the content stored in Microsoft Office, HTML, Extensible Markup Language (XML), and Tag Image File Format (TIFF) files using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).Support is retained for indexing content stored in 3rd-party file formats, such as Adobe Acrobat and Word Perfect files, by installing 3rd-party index filters.

 

There are more options for creating a distributed architecture for SharePoint Portal Servers.For example, it is possible to set up multiple load-balanced front-end web servers that connect to back-end database servers.Another deployment option allows SharePoint Servers in a server farm to use services provided by another SharePoint Site instead of having all those services delivered by each server. When Shared Services is implemented in a server farm, the child server farm uses the following services provided by the parent server farm:User Profiles, Alerts, Search, Single Sign-on, Audiences, and Personal Sites.

 

SharePoint Portal Server 2003 enhancements provide better functionality for collaboration among users.Improvements to Alerts make it possible to receive alerts about people, news, lists, list items, and the Sites Directory.For example, a user can subscribe to a person and receive a notification whenever the person makes a change to a document.

 

When users require a separate Web site that is accessible from the portal, they can easily create one based on Windows SharePoint Services.The Web site provides a common area for the team members that they can use to communicate and work with each other. The Web site can be created directly from either the portal or from an Office 2003 document.Individuals can create customized views of any portal site (including the team site) that is stored in their user profile and is available on subsequent visits to the site. This personalization allows users to tailor portal sites in ways that are optimal for them to enhance their productivity.

 

Another feature that enhances communication and collaboration is Online Presence. When Online Presence is enabled and users are using Office System 2003 and the Windows or MSN Messenger 4.6 or later, SharePoint Services can display the online status of users through an ActiveX control.†† Users can tell who is online through the SharePoint Site and initiate communication with those users using Windows or MSN Messenger.

 

Surveys are another new feature that enhances collaboration.Users can easily create rich surveys to poll and receive feedback from team members and other portal users. Survey answer types include single or multiple lines of text, choices, yes/no responses, ratings, and others.Options can be implemented to require answers, limit or allow additional choice selections, or provide descriptions for range of a rating scale.†† Survey results are calculated and displayed immediately.

 

When submitting documents, users can upload one or more files using the drag and drop functionality of the Explorer View or the Upload Multiple Files option available in Office 2003 applications.To enhance security measures already in place, portal administrators can now block certain file types from being uploaded or retrieved based on the file extension.†† For example, administrators may find it desirable to block .exe and other file types that could potentially contain viruses from being uploaded to or retrieved from a document library.

 

Improvements to the interface make SharePoint easier to use and manage.For instance, there is greater support for drag and drop functionality.Content Managers can use this functionality to manage the portal site map by dragging existing areas to other locations.Users, managers and administrators can drag web part lists to appropriate locations on a Web Part Page.


Summary

The challenges that many organizations face in managing information and knowledge are enormous.Poor information results in poor decisions.Therefore, timely, accurate, and seamless access to appropriate and sufficiently detailed information is critical to providing support for the organizationís decision-making capabilities.When information and knowledge is dispersed in different locations and in heterogeneous formats, the costs to organizations in terms of time, money, and effort to provide effective access to and manage that information can be significant.For example, developers may have to know how to programmatically gain access to data that may be stored in a variety of different back-end servers and applications, which increases development time and costs.Users have to know where appropriate data is located and may have to use a variety of different interfaces to search for and locate data, taking time away from other tasks they have to perform.†† Also, organizations need to provide effective communication and collaborations tools to enable knowledge workers to work together in teams to complete projects efficiently and to support the organizationís overall decision-making capability.

 

SharePoint Portal Server 2003 provides a feature-rich environment for organizations that wish to more effectively manage their information and the communication among their employees and increase productivity. By deploying SharePoint Portal Server 2003, organizations can avoid many of the costs and risks associated with providing a customized knowledge-management solution.

 

Development costs are reduced because SharePoint Server provides access to a wide variety of back-end data sources out of the box, eliminating the need for developers to provide programmatic access to this data.Because information is accessible through a portal site and can be found in a variety of ways from the portal site, users can easily locate data that is relevant to their tasks and save significant time searching for appropriate data, thereby increasing productivity.

 

The use of the Audience and Personalized views features of SharePoint Portal Server 2003 make it possible to refine the work environment for individuals or groups so that users are immediately presented with relevant information and will consequently experience a higher to signal-to-noise ratio in dealing with the large amounts of information that are available at any one time within an organization.

 

Features such as the Document Workspace, the Meeting Workspace, and Online Presence mean that knowledge workers can communicate and collaborate more effectively with one another on shared tasks or projects.Through Alerts, individuals can be provided with timely notifications when information changes or documents require approval.When versioning is enabled on document libraries, the risk of accidental loss of data is mitigated.

 

These and other features of SharePoint Portal Server 2003 make it a highly desirable solution for organizations that need to reduce costs associated with knowledge management, to increase productivity, and to provide better decision-making capabilities.