Extranet Collaboration Toolkit for SharePoint

The Extranet Collaboration Toolkit for SharePoint is a new Solution Accelerator being developed by Microsoft. Currently in beta, this toolkit provides you with best practices and tools to securely collaborate with your customers, suppliers, and partners-across the Internet. Taken from the article:

The Problem

When you look around, it is easy to see that how we work together is changing. One of the biggest changes, especially for an IT organization, is the dramatic increase in collaboration between organizations. Organizations now collaborate with external business partners in ways that would have seemed inconceivable even 10 years ago. In the past, most work was done by employees and on-site contractors, whereas it is not unusual today to have project teams made up of a widely dispersed mix of on-site and off-site employees, vendor personnel, consultants, and sometimes even competitors all working together on a project. These groups come together, develop their work products, and dissolve rapidly. The benefits are obvious: teams can leverage a wide variety of perspectives and insights from experts and stakeholders wherever they are, whether inside or outside the organization. This level of collaboration can lead to better decisions, improved product designs, more effective marketing campaigns, and so on.

The toolkit is a pre-built, customizable SharePoint solution built around a Web-based interface that teams can use to collaborate with partners outside the firewall. Administrators can set up a secure, SharePoint-based collaboration site in minutes. End users can then easily create new site collections, posting sharable documents that are centrally located inside the firewall. The toolkit also enables users to invite internal and external partners to collaborate on documents. And the toolkit makes it simple for team leads to assign or revoke access rights for any team member.

IT Pros can stay in control by configuring the system to require administrative approval for any of these actions. Or they can allow end users to set up and manage collaboration sites on their own-freeing up scarce IT resources to focus on higher-value projects.

The toolkit helps enhance security by creating each collaboration site as a SharePoint site collection. This ensures that teams using one collaboration site will not be able to view documents on another site, unless they are explicitly given access. In addition, the toolkit utilizes forms authentication and puts all external users in ADAM (Microsoft's lightweight directory service), rather than in the organization's primary internal directory.

Go check out the details. If you'd like to join the beta program then go here, and on the right-hand side under "Download", click on Sign on to Microsoft Connect to review prerelease content.