Archive for June, 2009

Google bings and Microsoft rides on high waves

This can’t be a mere coincidence. The two stalwarts of IT industry Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) adamant at making a dent in each other’s bastion have catapulted themselves to a better position and the news of their new products have come at the same time.

Microsoft is targeting the “search overload” experienced by cyber denizens and calling its product a “decision engine” which would act as a savior from bizarre, free-associating responses that mimic the random results, search engines generate.

I took a shot at “Bing” with least expectations (quite disappointed by the predecessor –Live”) and found it quite promising. Three features that ‘binged’ me 

 

Microsoft Bing Search

Microsoft Bing Search

  •  Explorer pane – Bing’s new look focuses on a left hand navigation menu called the Explorer Pane. This extra column of content includes Quick Tabs that break searches down into Web Groups relevant to your search.
  • Sneak Preview – You can get a glimpse of the page before you click on it. It is not obtrusive and still does its job. On top of it, you can see the links on that page and that really saves you one more click. For ex: If I want to go to “Admissions” link on a University I can do so now with just one click.
  • Fine tuned and logically grouped search results for most of my queries. For example when I searched for U2 – its shows me results grouped by Images followed by links grouped by general, U2 songs, U2 tickets, U2 merchandise, U2 downloads, U2 interviews, Videos of U2 and finally usage statistics. Well that really makes my life easier as I can easily skip most of the links if I wish to buy tickets for a U2 concert.

In spite of these improvements, I still feel there is not much that would entice a normal user to overcome the inertia. “Adoption” is going to be the biggest hurdle for “Bing”.

Biggest problem I found with Bing was that in endeavor of giving more meaningful results, its forgetting the core functionality that is to search. Bing fails to crawl to all the pages that are present on the web. Another disappointing feature was unrelated sponsored links.

Google Wave

Google Wave

Google showcased its Web-based collaboration/ communication tool – Wave at the Google I/O developer’s conference recently. The Google team, led by Rasmussen brothers, developed the application to allow people to communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and other tools in a real time.

The product lets you create a wave, which often starts with instant messaging, and then you can add people to it. Popularly touted as next gen of email, it also brings live server forms, open protocol, drag n drop file upload, integration with blog, orkut, twitter, language conversion and most importantly live collaborative editing.

The major leap is contributing this innovation to the open source community. This will surely foster innovation and adoption in developer community.

On the other side, what makes me worried is the confusion that would be easily created while collaborating with a team of 10+. Imagine a conversation being modified by more than 5 people at the same time. Moreover I am terrified at the thought of somebody reading my typing or grammatical mistake. People even do copy paste while using IM that would be just so difficult with Google wave.

But one thing that may work against “Wave” is its complexity that is in complete contrast to the simplicity that is the trademark of Google products.

Though these products have an uphill task ahead, let me clarify once for all that Wave and Bing have definitely upped the ante by their own standards. The problem is that they don’t offer something that is compelling enough to force the traditional users to move from what they are using. I use “Google” for search and “Microsoft’s Sharepoint” for collaboration needs and looking at whatever I am able to digest so far I would continue with them at least for next few years.

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What to expect in Sharepoint 2010?

 

What to expect from Sharepoint 2010– when the expactations are sky high? This can be fairly attributed to the immense success of its predecessor sharepoint 2007 . Well there hasn’t been any official communication yet from Redmond but following list has been compiled partially based on my wishes and whims and rest to rumors floating around which are keeping the sharepoint buzz alive.

Enterprise Content Management features

  • Document imaging and reports management
  • Records Management and better Archiving Policies – Sharepoint desperately needs them to maintain leadership in the ECM marketplace.
  • Better taxonomy management – We desperately need this !!!
  • Email management – User/ Project can create a repository for managing important emails.
  • Better offline support – I guess MS Groove or Workspace will be more effectively used for all its worth.
  • Better support for Internet facing sites – WCM capabilities has a good scope of improvement
  • Should support more content storage options – storage architecture can be composed of SAN, NAS, RAID, tape, etc. Currently it supports only SQL server.

Web 2.0 Features

  • Enhanced collaboration tools – Wikis, Blogs, Discussion forums, Surveys etc. Community Toolkit on Codeplex can be handy here. 

Security features

  • More OOTB permissions type and better flexibility to create custom roles and permissions to implement Role based access control
  • Support for other LDAP and Identity management solutions
  • Wizards for configuring SSO and Kerberos
  • Claims based Authentication to use any other Authentication mechanism

Integration features

  •  Integration with other CMS product – Documentum, Imaging solution
  • Webparts to integrate CRM products other than MS Dynamics
  • Seamless integration with Silverlight. I am expecting a collection of silverlight web parts.

Business Intelligence and Reporting features

 There are reports and some official communication that few features (read analystics and scorecarding) of Performance Point server will be part of next version of Sharepoint.

You should also expect a Dashboard designer and more webparts dedicated for reporting and analytics. There should also be easy interfaces to effectively utilize SSAS and SSRS.

Development ease

  • Easy support of Silverlight and other RIA technologies
  • More ready to use templates and OOTB web parts
  • Easier Content deployment

Search

  • FAST Search Integration – This is more or less confirmed news.
  • Faceted Search
  • iFilters for ODF and PDF files and native support for other non MS doc formats.

Business Process Management

  • Powerful Infopath form capabilities
  • More OOTB workflow types
  • A workflow modeller for State machine workflows

Admin Capabilities

  • Snapshot backup and recovery
  • Recovery at finer item level
  • Painless Migration from SPS 2003, Sharepoint 2007, Lotus Notes

 Usability Features

  • Native support of browsers other than IE
  • Better Rich text control
  • Better support for Mobile devices – That holds an important key for future mobile apps that will run across major smartphone browsers. Check the link out Mobile Entrée
  • Auto save features
  • XHTML compliant
  • Compliance to Accessibilty standards 
  • Ribbon Interface

Few items that have been confirmed or heard on grapevine

  • The SharePoint 2010 will be shipped only as x64 installation
  • Sharepoint lists will be more powerful and will allow operations like SQL tables.
  • Fast Search Integration
  • CMIS support to facilitate integration with EMC documentum

Performance

  • Master Data Management for maintaining master data at one place to reduce redundancy of data. This data store will also support views, business rules, hierarchichal relationships

What not to expect?

  • Sharepoint to be OS agnostic. Forget it :(. Atleast its not going to happen in next release
  • Much action happening on Digital Asset Management and Rights Management.
  • MOSS  – Sharepoint is no more associated to Office Family. “Office” moniker is out.
  • Support for IE 6.0, SQL Server 2000, 32 bit SQL Server 2005