Much like the ballyhoo that started when Mr. Drips posted the 5 things wrong with SharePoint, a company called Ferris Research isn't quite doing their research. They've released a post called SharePoint is not good for enteprise content management and since I'm in a mood tonight and it's my blog I'll get up on my soapbox and rant if I want to.
Despite having a title that just sets off bells in my simple brain, I have to first off say that SharePoint isn't content management anyways. Never was sold that way. That's what Content Management Server (CMS) is for. Okay, the next version of SharePoint will elevate to some kind of Enterprise level as it collides with CMS and provides some very cool content management features. All of this will come in due time of course, but to say that SharePoint isn't ready for Enteprise CM today is like saying it's not ready for high performance workflow transactions either (and can't run your latest XBox game for that matter).
The article goes on with a few points that are kind of like an alien autopsy where the patient is all blurry and unrecognizable and it's hard to tell if it really is an alien or not. You know, the show where they got Commander Riker to narrate it thinking that this would provide some level of credibility to an already cruddy video that looks like it was shot in the Star Wars Kids basement. Oh right, the article.
"Limited Database Scalability. The default database for SharePoint Services is the Microsoft Data Engine. Its storage capacity is limited to 4GB for all content managed on a given server instance. Go beyond this and you need SQL Server, which gets expensive."
Sigh. Yes, we all know the 4GB limitation on the database and it's pretty clear to most humans (at least those that take a minute to read the Administrators Guide) that you wouldn't use MSDE (or WSMDE which is what ships built-in with WSS) for anything other than development or a small team site. And SQL Server being expensive? I don't know about you, but the standard edition is about $800 USD (prices vary) which isn't that bad if you want to service a few thousand users (which you could on a single decent box, as in a $2000 desktop running it, I know, I've done it). If you have a company of 50 employees and you're not using SharePoint to store the universe, then 4GB is enough but I can't say I've ever seen a company that wouldn't lay out a couple of thousand dollars for hardware and software to serve up databases for the all it's employees applications. I don't see that as limited, but that might just be me. Yes, SQL Server can be expensive if you're talking about a multi-cluster box with hot swappable failover but then what isn't?
"Weak Searching and Navigation. It's difficult to find information spread across different workspaces."
Hmm. Search my name in Portal Server at the last company I was at and all documents and list items I authored or was mentioned in come up. If you're only talking about running Windows SharePoint Services, then yes, the cross site search is weak. Why is it weak? Because it isn't there. It's not a designed feature (although there are add-ons that you can get to do it). Okay, Portal Server isn't Google when it comes to searching (yet) but when a company the size of Microsoft shifts all of it's internal search projects to use SharePoint as the search engine, that says something. Again, I wouldn't call it weak but it depends on how you're looking at it.
"Lack of Security for Regulatory Compliance. There's no built-in means to apply security or manage the document lifecycle at the individual document level."
Agreed but again, it wasn't made for that. If SharePoint was pitched as "Your Enterprise needs for Regulatory Compliance in a box" and didn't deliver then you have every right to bitch and complain that it isn't there but stop asking a pig to fly. This all changes with vNext so stay tuned. I know that doesn't help today but there are products on the market (free as in beer) like the 80-20 compliance server and the SOX accelerator that make up for this.
"Software Licenses Costly. Windows SharePoint Services is usually free. However, organizations will most likely have to buy SharePoint Portal Server and SQL Server and, potentially, third-party records management software. Based on retail pricing, a typical SharePoint-based ECM environment will cost $270 to $320 per user to acquire."
Not sure what's meant by "Windows SharePoint Services is usually free". It's always free. Here's the download if you don't believe me. Yes, you need a Windows 2003 Server (and licenese and CALs to run it) but the software is free. As for Portal Server, I don't recommend people go out and buy it if they don't need it. For some reason, the community at large immediately thinks they need Portal Server and, more often than not, they don't. WSS usually is more than enough if you're doing something like departmental team sites or project sites. Also I don't know of any company that pays retail for Microsoft software. Either you have a Volume License agreement or something else where you pay an agreed amount. I don't of any company that pays retail unless you're two people and a small dog. The last company I was at had 7000 seats so licensing was pretty minimal as far as cost went (a users desktop which included Windows XP and CALs for servers [including SharePoint] ran about $50/user. When you get up in those numbers, cost is a bit of a wash compared to other software (take a look at Oracle's price gouging for example). Costly? Sure, if you're dumb enough to fire up a SQL cluster and a Portal Server for 10 people.
A lot of this just boils down to getting what you need and being smart about it. Too many times I hear the same kind of thing about SharePoint (or any other MS product) and how it fails at this and fails at that and is costly blah, blah, blah. When you have about a hundred employees, a couple thousand dollars isn't much for say a Windows Server, SQL, and a WSS site. With a couple of hundred users, Small Business Server is a good option and priced well (and based on WSS for it's document and collaboration features). With a few thousand users, another SQL Server and even Portal Server isn't that costly IMHO. And yes, I've lived and breathed these situations so I'm not just blowing wind out my butt (although I'm sure people will say otherwise in response to this post).
One more thing about cost, I just checked the Ferris page and they now have an entry on Oracle's Content Services and how's it's ECM ready. Of course it's by the same author as the SharePoint one, David Via. Wonder if he'll go on how amazingly
cheap economical the Oracle solution is (not!). Of course when you factor in the Oracle database licenses (SQL Server), then there's the Oracle Portal product (SharePoint Portal Server), the BEPL process manager (BizTalk), the Oracle Collaboration Suite (WSS), and the other add-ons you need to get the full potential of it. Well, come back to me and we'll do cost comparison for the full stack and see who comes out on top.
So I don't know who get's paid at Ferris Research for their research, but I think they need to look at some research basics before diving into my territory again.