Why PLM Need to Learn about SharePoint 2010 Composites?

Picture 5Some 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.

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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 saidthis 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 solutionsthis 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 LOBLine of Business Systems) and connects these multiple data sources into SharePoint Lists, Workspaces etc. BDC evolution path in SharePoint 2010 is what calledBCS (Business Connectivity Services). You can take a look on this picture bellow. What is important is that BCS is supporting full CRUD (for nonprogramming 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).

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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.

Best, Oleg


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  • This is certainly very interesting but aren’t there some real devilish details missing? Lets imagine I have a composite which is a list of Parts and these Parts are really WindChill Parts. Within the composite I delete a Part. How in the world does the composite deal with the workflow related to deleting a Part in WindChill and do this with NO CODE? Based on the chart you could imagine the same scenario with a list of CAD features and we all know there is no side effect when you delete a feature…

  • Chris, of course, devil in details! Not everything can be supported with NO CODE. But WCF and other protocols can serve programming framework to implement it. With appropriated API support from Windchill (or any other system), you can run into required sequence of operation. Bottom line in my view – there are situations when you cannot do with NO CODE, but framework SharePoint 2010 provides for composites looks like big step forward. This is can be potentially sufficient customization environment for working scenarios running across different systems. Best, Oleg

  • Haven’t we heard this before? Is this a little bit lipstick on the same old pig ? This sounds alot like the old enterprise integration story that has been told over and over again and tried with different types of technologies. Remember EAI, not the grpahics company, but the market? The only technology platform that has truely proven capable of a mashup is WEB technology, yes/no?

  • Chris, Maybe :)… Btw, SharePoint is pretty much web based. However, I can use your answer :)… – devil in details. All conversations related to integration sounds similar and all companies doing integration looks similar, but on the ground provide some different capabilities. I indeed see SharePoint 2010 composites (including all technical components and buzzwords behind as BDC, BCS etc.) as a step forward from what was done in MOSS 2007. Personally, I don’t believe this framework can operate as NO CODE for end-users. But for consulting and service companies, this is can be excellent framework and it looks like provide a lot of goodies you can use to develop collaborative apps. Best, Oleg.