If you haven’t taken a look at SharePoint since the WSS 3.0 days then you’re missing out on a lot of innovation that Microsoft has done in the enterprise content management space. One of the things Microsoft does very well is integrating their technologies together and SharePoint is no different. SharePoint 2013 bolsters features like:
- ODATA REST data layer
- Using the ODATA standard any list or document can be exposed to a third party site or application or even the host site itself.
- SkyDrive Pro Integration
- SkyDrive allows you to sync directly with any and all SharePoint document libraries in order to get a local offline repository of those files.
- Microsoft Access linking to Lists
- The link allows you to add, update, delete content within a SharePoint list directly in Access.
- Microsoft Office online integration
- Office online will allow you to directly modify your Word, Excel and OneNote content directly online without having Office installed.
- Client side development model
- Workflow rebuilt as a separate integrated service.
- Workflow is a key part of SharePoint and as a separate service can allow you to utilize it for Apps build on premise not directly integrated with SharePoint
These features make it easy to start working with SharePoint and even easier to develop against.
A great innovation to come out of SharePoint is the ability to integrate applications that are not hosted within the SharePoint infrastructure. Meaning you can use Windows Azure or on-premise hardware to host an application and expose that application through SharePoint as a fully integrated solution.
Here is an example of what this may look like in the real world. Say you have a local database in house that contains a list of all your contacts (name, email, etc) and you are unable to move that database into the cloud for any number of reasons. You can now build a SharePoint App that you run on your local web server in house and once deployed to SharePoint you have integrated online access to everything available in SharePoint such as Lists, Documents, Users and more. Perhaps all this App does is sync between a SharePoint List and that on premise database. That sync could then trigger workflow events that notify users or starts a sales cycle.
Another example of this may be integration between your public website and your private intranet. In this example you could expose a form on your website to gather contact information or an event sign up. That form could submit to a SharePoint list. Now the power lies in each individual site doing what it does best. Your public website may already have contact information about the user which could be auto populated in the form and once submitted you could again use SharePoint’s Workflow engine to process that form further so you don’t have to build a workflow system in your public website.
Letting a Content Management System do what it does best and deliver content to the public and let SharePoint do what it does best by organizing, filtering and processing lists of data.
The beauty of this model is that you can continue to use your existing hardware and software applications as before but you can now leverage the features of SharePoint without starting from scratch.