SharePoint came about as an effort to bring Microsoft Offices usability to tools for electronic collaboration. Jeff Teper, the Microsoft vice president in charge of SharePoint development, says the company saw an opportunity with users who wanted to share their files but didn't need a heavyweight content management system such as EMC's Documentum. SharePoint 2010 integrates Microsoft's PerformancePoint business intelligence tools and its advanced search engine, called Fast, as well as strengthens SharePoint as a development platform.
These enhancements aim to make SharePoint more appealing for enterprise deployment, a reflection of how customers' use of it is evolving. However, observes Tony Byrne, head of the analysis firm The Real Story Group, Microsoft walks a fine line between touting SharePoint's capabilities and deferring to partners who also provide content and business process management systems.
Chances are you have SharePoint in your enterprise even if it's not part of your IT plan. It relieves an itch that, until recently, few CIOs knew needed scratching: Providing the rank-and-file with a tool for sharing documents instead of emailing them around to edit. Companies now use it for everything from intranets to document management. You can build a portal with SharePoint and have users set up their own web pages and blogs.