Some technology and infrastructure thinking today coming out of SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Without going to more systematic analyzes what Microsoft presented in future coming SharePoint 2010 version (beta is planned in November and release is next year), I’d like to go straight ahead and talk about very interesting topic, in my view, called SharePoint Composites.
As you can see on the picture above SharePoint composites are fundamental part of overall SharePoint marketing architecture and pretty much focuses on rapid creation of no-code collaborative solution. Looking on that together with the ability to unlock enterprise data, I said – this is something that sounds very PLMish? I think every PLM solution has a strategic need to collaborate and communicate with various pieces of enterprise data and systems. Bill of Materials in ERP, Customer information in CRM and endless list of various databases and homegrown solutions – this is the only initial list of enterprise data that we face in every PLM implementation.
So, let’s dig inside and see what Microsoft is planning to offer as part of Composites. The major piece of SharePoint composites is evolution of SharePoint BDC (Business Data Catalog). Back in SharePoint 2007, BDC was created to be able to read data from multiple external sources (Microsoft presents it as LOB- Line of Business Systems) and connects these multiple data sources into SharePoint Lists, Workspaces etc. BDC evolution path in SharePoint 2010 is what called – BCS (Business Connectivity Services). You can take a look on this picture bellow. What is important is that BCS is supporting full CRUD (for non-programming people – Create Read Update Delete) framework. So, the application will be able to make full manipulation of data in external systems. This is, of course, depends on technology systems will be connected (SQL or proprietary APIs / Web Services).
So, what is my short conclusion today from initial presentation and review of Microsoft composites and BCS? I think, this framework is an interesting approach SharePoint will use to acquire enterprise data and interplay with enterprise applications. There are two possible scenarios I can figure out for PLM applications with regards to SharePoint Composites:
1. Internal. This option assumes PLM application will be re-using elements of SharePoint composites to get broader system and enterprise data connectivity. This is something that I see logical and should be compliant, in my view, with how Microsoft Composites and BCS will be introduced for companies.
2. External. For this option SharePoint Composite and BCS specifically will assume PLM apps is one of the LOB. So, collaborative scenarios can be built on top of PLM data and interplay with enterprise data and collaborative processes that will come from other systems.
I’m sure, there are much more options and these are only major directions. Good place to see how BCS and Composites will be developed and implemented is to discover and learn everything happens between SharePoint and SAP applications. I’m sure we’ll see interesting scenarios and new types of applications coming out and based on new SharePoint technologies. However, it doesn’t mean it will introduce new conflicts between Microsoft technological frameworks and Enterprise Application vendors frameworks.
Stay tuned on next discussions about SharePoint and related technologies later this week.