Project Online – New offering for SMEs
Alongside the well-known Client/Server architecture, Microsoft provides a cloud option for the first time with Project 2013: Project Online. Based on Office 365 as a platform, IT decision makers can now provide an environment for the project organisation at the touch of a button. One can say farewell to elaborate planning and the provision of hardware and software, and operating and licensing costs are reduced. The Client is also available with Project Online, and well-nigh all functions of Project Server are likewise available online.
The integration with existing infrastructures, including user directory and registration information, is an option, as well as the provision of a complete working environment in the cloud. Beyond the offers for Project und SharePoint, Office 365 also provides the Active Directory user directory as well as a complete infrastructure for email communication with Exchange Online.
On a detailed level, virtually all functions the user finds in Project Server can be found in Project Online as well. Restrictions have to be accepted only for the reporting – the Business Intelligence Center is not available. Due to the new architecture, no direct access of the databases is possible. However, Microsoft also provides a powerful alternative here with Excel Services and the new model for data access through OData.
Challenge - Connection to internal ERP systems with Project Online
As anticipated, the connection to internal ERP systems with Project Online presents a major challenge. Still, in order to be capable of facilitating the exchange of data between the cloud and SAP systems via controlled and secured communication paths, integration solutions by third-party manufacturers are suitable. Campana & Schott is offering its CS Connect product for this purpose, for instance.
Apps and the SharePoint Store
The apps constitute a small revolution in the world of business applications. Modern communications are unimaginable without these little helpers and programs, previously known only to end consumers. Microsoft is following successful implementations in the realm of mobile communication here in introducing the SharePoint Store. Apple and Google have positioned their App Stores on the consumer market with striking success, and Microsoft is also benefitting from its experience with the Marketplace for Windows Phone. Now it is carrying forward this principle for the Office family. Beside the SharePoint Store, in which the apps for Server products are provided, an Office Store is integrated with the new Office Client application, through which apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and company may be purchased.
Apps and App Store especially for business clients
Microsoft is transferring the App Store principle from the consumer area to the market for business applications. Alongside the public SharePoint Store, a defined company catalogue is available for every company. This way, custom-tailored apps are provided that cannot be found in the public SharePoint Store. In addition, the access to the public store is regulated in this way so as to monitor which apps are made available in the company and which are allowed to be deployed by the users. The users as well as managers, planners and members of a project comprise the typical target group for apps. Standard tasks can be supported or even be automated by apps. In spite of this, upgrades and comprehensive Project Server solutions will not be going away soon. Both options are open to software providers. The customer can select the most suitable solution from the new possibilities.
With Project 2013, Microsoft has launched a completely overhauled version of the popular software. Well-known and frequently used functions have been systematically advanced and improved, following repeated requests by many users. Project has thus become a more efficient tool that integrates even more smoothly with existing work processes. Project Online constitutes a small “revolution” in the market. Company-wide project management is now a worthwhile option even for small and mid-sized project organisations, since an essential barrier to entry has vanished. Project Online allows for the implementation of a full-grown project management system without having to install hardware, software and infrastructure beforehand. Major organisations will also profit from it: Separate systems for business areas, teams or individual major projects can be provided virtually at the touch of a button.
This article originally appeared on Computerwoche.de