Expand your product reach with SharePoint Services

As an ISV you may be asking yourself why to integrate with SharePoint.  Aside from being one of the hottest products in Microsoft history there are benefits outside of the market adoption. Windows SharePoint Services is not only a collaboration environment, it is a development platform.  Because of that it offers multiple opportunities to expand the current scope and market for your product.

An ISV I recently worked with mentioned limited adoption of their desktop application within a particular user segment because of the licensing costs.  This limited the visibility this important user group had to their application and its capabilities.  They plan to leverage web parts in SharePoint to expand the reach of their product.  Web Parts are containers that can expose information or functionality to people in SharePoint or an ASP.NET 2.0 application.  The information that is surfaced within the web part can come from just about anywhere.  Because web parts are built using the ASP.NET 2.0 framework the cost of development is typically fairly low.  This, of course, depends on the complexity of integration.  By leveraging this technology a company can provide visibility to users that may not otherwise be aware of the functionality provided by a product and potentially increase product adoption, awareness and even increase revenue by charging an additional license for the web part integration.

If your company uses SQL Reporting Services, SSRS, to provide reports and information to your user base those reports can be delivered to SharePoint if your customers are using SQL 2005 SP2 or higher.  Leveraging your existing reports you can maintain and distribute the reports to a SharePoint document library using the SharePoint Delivery Extension if they are running in SharePoint integrated mode.  This allows customers to take advantage of the version, security and other content management capabilities of the SharePoint platform as well as exposing the reports in a portal environment where the users already have some familiarity.  If your customers are running in native mode a custom delivery extension could be developed relatively easily using out of the SharePoint web services to upload the document to a SharePoint Report Library.

This just scratches the surface of the ways you can leverage SharePoint as a platform to deliver information, but hopefully gets you thinking about ways it may enhance or drive revenue to your business.

Cliff Green
Sr. Application Development Consultant, MCSD.NET, MCTS
ISV Practice