Quest tool aims to tame SharePoint

Quest Software earlier this month released management tools to help corporate users bring order to their Microsoft SharePoint roll-outs.

Quest Site Administer for SharePoint lets users discover all the SharePoint sites on their network, report on their contents and usage patterns, and set up centralized policies for such tasks as storage limits and access permissions.

Microsoft’s SharePoint comes in two flavours: the portal server for the network and SharePoint Services, which is part of the Windows operating system.

In addition, Microsoft plans to make SharePoint the hub of its collaboration platform in Office 2007, which is due to ship to corporate customers later this year.

While Portal server roll-outs can be planned and organized, SharePoint Services is a way for users to create ad hoc sites for storing and sharing documents and can quickly grow out of control if not managed. Quest hopes to fill the void.

“It is early days for SharePoint and it is still maturing, but it is creating awareness in the team space market,” says David Ferris, president of Ferris Research.

Even though SharePoint is early in its adoption cycle, he says it is a platform that must be managed given the potentially sensitive documents and data that can be stored there.

“There is stuff in there that is governed by regulation and SharePoint like it is now has limited manageability,” Ferris says.

Quest’s Site Administer includes an Automated Discovery wizard that identifies all SharePoint servers and sites across domains or the entire network. The wizard can crawl through certain ports used by SharePoint and registry settings to ferret out SharePoint sites.

The software includes a reporting engine that gathers such information as content, user activity and storage.

It also can report on what customizations, called Web Parts, are running on each site. The tool comes with more than 30 predefined reports.

Site Administer provides a centralized policy management engine that lets users set global controls on content alerts, storage quota and user permissions. The tools also can be used to make global changes to all or a subset of SharePoint sites.

“The biggest problem that users have is they don’t know how big their SharePoint deployments are and what the sites are being used for,” says David Waugh, vice-president of SharePoint Solutions at Quest.

Quest also plans to release later this year a migration tool for moving Exchange public folders to SharePoint.

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