SharePoint is the hottest thing going at Microsoft. While Excel is the swiss-army-knife of desktop apps, SharePoint is the do-it-all app on the Server side. If you are not playing with it already, then you are behind the curve. Go download the VPC Image, the trial version (x86, x64), try the online test-drive, do some training...
Alright, I'll get off my soapbox now.
SharePoint is all about collaboration, and collaboration in the Extranet (with business partners, suppliers, vendors, clients, employees without VPNs) is a key scenario addressed by SharePoint. The Solution Accelerator team has just released a beta of the Extranet Collaboration Toolkit for SharePoint. From the SA team:
The Extranet Collaboration Toolkit for SharePoint provides authoritative guidance and tools to deploy a pre-built, customizable SharePoint solution that teams can use to collaborate with partners outside the firewall. The toolkit has a web-based interface, so it’s easy to use.
Using this free toolkit, 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 Extranet Collaboration Toolkit for SharePoint 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 puts all external users in ADAM (Microsoft’s lightweight directory service), rather than in the organization’s primary internal directory.
The benefits for your customers include:
Boosts security. The toolkit allows team members to store and share documents centrally on their organization’s server, instead of e-mailing documents to others across the Internet. And instead of giving VPN access to external team members (therefore granting them access to everything on the internal network), site owners can give external members access to just the team collaboration site.
Easy to deploy. Automated tools and step-by-step instructions allow customers to deploy this Solution Accelerator quickly and easily – in as little as two hours, instead of weeks or months without the toolkit.
Easy to use. Once the toolkit is deployed, team members can set up their own SharePoint collaboration sites in minutes. The toolkit’s web-based interface makes it simple for team members to share documents and collaborate with each other across the Internet.
Reduces IT costs and boosts productivity. Project team members can manage sites on their own, freeing up scarce IT resources to focus on higher-return activities.
Thoroughly tested. The toolkit is extensively tested in our labs, and verified by customers and partners under real-world conditions.