As a web content management system (WCM), Microsoft SharePoint faces a significant competition from open-source software as well as licensed options. Some critics suggest its broad approach to WCM suffers from the “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none” effect; expert users might consider using a WCM-only alternative. SharePoint’s cost also may factor against private users and small businesses if they can find an open-source, limited alternative that nonetheless meets those users’ needs.Any plausible WCM must allow for the creation, modification, and sharing of web content as well as document management, security permissions, and support. SharePoint’s original focus was the intranet environment of file-sharing and collaboration, not as a WCM. In fact, until the 2010 version, most users considered the program a poor choice for WCM. SharePoint 2010’s main upgrades over its older versions include improved workflow management, content syndication, and scalable feature sets.SharePoint offers many WCM features, but this complexity and broad approach may make it unsuitable for small, relatively simple sites. Those unfamiliar with SharePoint may have a difficult time learning its intricacies. Sites that rely on blogs should look elsewhere. SharePoint also offers little in the way of anything other than storing videos; users needing refined editing tools will be left wanting. Furthermore, site usage statistics are not available in real-time, there is little to no integration of premiere social networking sites, and the current release of the program offers no application store. It should be noted, however, that the upcoming release of SharePoint will amend the latter two shortcomings.SharePoint’s strength as a WCM derives from its stability, brand name familiarity, technical support, and document management. SharePoint easily integrates with the Microsoft Office Suite so in favor with many corporations; open-source alternatives, while free, may offer little to no technical support when compared to Microsoft. SharePoint also shines as a means to assemble documents and collaborative content for web-publishing.SharePoint’s WCM commercial competitors are numerous, but some major names include SiteCore, Oracle, and Autonomy. Once again, there exists no “best” WCM on the market; it depends entirely on the scope, budget, and the demands of the project. Dedicated blogging sites might favor the free-to-use WordPress, while those with a focus on app development should examine the likewise free Drupal. Open-source software does involve some risks like product disappearance, inadequate testing, limited or non-existent technical support, and poor integration with other software. Commercial WCMs typically offer relatively bug-free performance, better documentation, and a “play nice” attitude with other programs, but all of this comes at a cost of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.Many companies and users will favor SharePoint because of its familiarity and non-specialization, but others will prefer to either choose a more specialized program or one with a lower price tag. An open-source option exists for virtually any possible need, but the risks inherent in using them may dissuade some users. Wise shoppers will analyze their needs, budget, and scope before coming to any final decision.
web content management,content management systems,open-source software,microsoft sharepoint