Office 12 Comes Together

Microsoft is melding the infrastructure underlying SharePoint Portal Server and Content Management Server (CMS) for the Office 12 wave starting next year.

Chris Capossela, group vice president of the company's Information Worker Product Group, recently said to expect more common technologies and integration, if not outright convergence, of the two servers.

"In the Office 12 time frame, we are looking to unify the underlying architecture that those two products use, so you won't have the chasm you have today," Capossela said in response to a question after a session at Microsoft's annual partner meeting in Minneapolis.

CRN reported in February that Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., was working to converge SharePoint and CMS functionality into a single "server system," due in 2006. Microsoft would not comment then or since, although some partners say the company has been open with them about these plans. Capossela's comments seem to be the first public statement of direction.

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Partners often implement CMS and SharePoint together for customers. But the differences between the servers' respective workflow and other technologies makes integration difficult. "We do think of SharePoint and CMS very much together. CMS is for running Internet sites, SharePoint for intranet sites and team collaboration," Capossela said.

"We want to make document approval much easier so you can create a press release, send it around for approvals from the PR company, publish it to the [company] intranet, then the Internet, e-mail it to the right people. Today that's incredibly painful," he said. The advent of services-oriented-architectures (SOAs) eventually could make such packaging discussions less critical.

"The important part is not whether a particular feature is in one product or another," said Paul Hernacki, CTO of Definition 6, a Microsoft partner in Atlanta. "As we move more to SOAs, it makes it easier for us and our customers to take advantage of the services they need."

Shorter term, the more Microsoft does to make its products work together smoothly, the better, he said.

Capossela would not say whether Microsoft plans to converge the two current server products into one SKU, however. "We do not know yet if we'll do something with the actual packaging. Whether this will be one thing, two things or four things [remains to be determined]," he said.