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Microsoft SharePoint addons reveal exciting features

Who needs SharePoint Server 2010?

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SharePoint 2010 may be on Microsoft's immediate road map, but users churning away on the current 2007 platform can still juice their rollouts with a host of addons that make the existing version seem new again.

From administrative tools to storage options, lifecycle management and migration wares, the task of pushing SharePoint to another level doesn't mean eyeing 2010's feature set, which includes a new platform theme, along with integration of Visual Studio development tools, a revamped SharePoint Designer, new social computing features, a more secure runtime environment for application components and a set of cloud-based APIs that open SharePoint to technology's hottest trend.

With 2010's ship date not until May at the earliest, here is a look at a half dozen tools that can make SharePoint 2007 (or earlier) sing. And not to leave 2010 completely out of the equation, the vendors of these tools have provided a stay-tuned peek at what they plan to do on the new platform.

BlueThread (Storage)

BlueThread offers a storage addon for SharePoint to improve content management by moving data off the platform's traditional SQL Server storage repository.

BlueThread's StoragePoint for SharePoint plugs into the Microsoft server and lets users configure endpoints by site collection or web applications so they use different storage nodes located either on-premises or in the cloud.

StoragePoint offers an interface to redirect where Binary Large Object (BLOB) I/O are stored. Traditionally, BLOBs are stored in SQL Server (SharePoint's back end).

From a SharePoint perspective there is really no operational or functional difference," says Rob D'Oria, CTO of BlueThread. "Uses can move content that is not mission critical off to second or third tier storage" that is less expensive.

The only thing stored in the SQL Server database is metadata, which ensures that indexing and other functions are not interrupted.

D'Oria says StoragePoint can reduce the size of an SQL Server database by 95% to 98%, and the technology offers compression and data encryption.

In 2010, BlueThread will tap into the SQL interface coming in SharePoint 2010 called Remote BLOB Storage (RBS) to provide a second interface for externalising content.

Colligo (client integration)

Colligo takes SharePoint addons to the client side, offering tools that integrate with Outlook, Windows Explorer and SharePoint content.

Colligo has a synchronisation engine that keeps data on the client in sync with SharePoint, says Barry Jinks, Colligo's CEO and founder. The company's claim to fame is its rich support for content types and metadata.

The most popular Contributor interface is the addin for Outlook, which takes SharePoint libraries and lists and puts them in folders within the folder tree of the email client. Users can drag and drop content into those folders from their inbox or their desktop. And the addin works online and off and can convert attachments to SharePoint links as part of its attachment management capability.

The other Contributor interfaces are available in the pro client or individually. The pro client has a standalone interface with offline support, Windows Explorer integration and the Outlook addin.

Jinks says 2010 with bring lots of new functionality in the content management and records management area. In the first half of the year, Colligo will offer new functionality around those capabilities. Also Colligo will offer support for all the 2010 desktop applications, including metadata editing in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.


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