11 August, 2008

SAP NetWeaver Collaboration Portal - What's coming?

My previous post outlined some important differences between Microsoft SharePoint and SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Portal. At this point in time, both products have some distinct advantages over the other. In a nutshell, SharePoint is superior for people-oriented collaborative activities and unstructured data, NetWeaver Portal is superior for process-oriented transactional activities and structured enterprise data.

Because of these differences in core strengths, many organisations are adopting a dual portal strategy with the aim of leveraging the best of both worlds. On the other hand, many IT managers are dreaming of a world where one portal rules them all and they only have to worry about supporting one technology.

From this perspective it is interesting to follow what is coming up in future releases from the two software giants, as there is no doubt that both Microsoft and SAP have ambitions to tread more on each other's turf in the portal space.

SAP is currently investing in delivering more collaboration features on the NetWeaver Portal. Some limited information on those upcoming features are available on SDN. In summary, these are some of the new features that will be delivered as enhancement packs on top of the NetWeaver Portal 7.0 infrastructure:

  • Team Workspaces
    Essentially a new version of the collaboration rooms. Interesting change of terminology to a more "SharePoint-like" name.
  • Forums
    Aimed at community-driven sites.
  • Wikis
    More comprehensive than SharePoint's current standard wiki template and they include some interesting features such as user ratings. A slide deck with more details can be found here.
  • Tagging
    Documents, users and iViews can be tagged with searchable keywords.
  • User business cards
    Allowing users to share more information about themselves.
  • SharePoint integration
    An interesting one. Not much detail is available on what exactly this will entail other than facilitating NetWeaver Portal as an entry point to content in distributed SharePoint repositories. Obviously, the idea here is to become the "portal of portals."

It will be interesting to see whether and how well these features will help NetWeaver Portal to catch up on SharePoint in the collaboration space.

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