Anyone familiar with our company is probably wondering why I am writing a blog post about Sitecore. My question is why not?
A little history: I'm a MCP in SharePoint, a certified Sitecore 7 developer and have been working on both platforms for the past 5 years. I enjoy working in both and am passionate about finding the best tool for any job. I find both platforms/ services to be very good at what they do and I figured it would be interesting enough to talk about!
What is Sitecore CMS?
Sitecore is an industry leading enterprise CMS built on top of ASP.net primarily focusing on Web Content Management (WCM). The platform is offered as both SaaS and PaaS on Azure. It enables a company to build and manage the content on their website, provide marketing services through Sitecore DMS, localization, social media integration and even e-commerce support.
To extrapolate more, Sitecore is heavily focused on the customer experience of externally facing websites. It is jam packed with tools for marketing, customer intelligence and engagement, and even multi-lingual support. Many fortune 500 companies have hopped on the Sitecore train for its ease of content management and its extensive flexibility towards branding,marketing and integration.
What is SharePoint?
SharePoint is a platform built on top of the Microsoft Office suite. It focuses on Enterprise Content Management (ECM) through collaboration, document management, document discovery, business intelligence and social. Like SItecore, SharePoint is offered on Azure as well as through Office 365, or you can set up your environment on premises.
Why would you use them together?
One of the biggest questions we get asked is "how do we surface SharePoint publicly?" Up until recently, Office365 gave you public sites, but these are being phased out. Not to mention the SharePoint look and feel is probably not something you would want publicly advertising your website. SharePoint is extremely powerful and helps businesses improve processes, manage and discover content, and provides tools for business intelligence. However, SharePoint isn't winning any awards in the "look and feel" department without any custom development or branding-- even then, SharePoint is difficult to brand and customize even for a developer. So can Sitecore help?
If your company is already using Sitecore for your public site and SharePoint for your intranet, this could be a no-brainer if you wanted to surface content from SharePoint. If your company is currently using SharePoint and plans to use Sitecore for your company website, the integration might be a pretty good idea as well. However, in any scenario the licensing costs might be a bit tough to swallow... but remember, you are paying for two very good top tier content management systems.
So how does integration work?
That's a pretty good question especially if you aren't familiar with Sitecore at all. Sitecore offers a SharePoint Integration Framework also known as "SPIF". SPIF supports Office 365 and SharePoint on-premises using Windows classic-mode and Claims-based authentication. The integration scenarios are below.
- Page-level integration
- You can use Sitecore renderings to integrate with SharePoint content in SharePoint lists. So using SharePoint to control your content and have it rendered in a Sitecore sub-layout.
- Item-level integration
- You can integrate Sitecore items with SharePoint items by mapping them to each other. After mapping fields and items, you can work solely within Sitecore to manage your content in SharePoint.
- API Integration
- SPIF offers an Object Model, Integration Pipelines and a SharePoint Provider to aid in custom integration between Sitecore and SharePoint. In other terms, the world is your oyster and you are pretty much free to design and build whatever Sitecore controls you want to render your SharePoint content.
What about architecture and authentication?
This is part 1 of a 3 part discussion on integrating Sitecore and SharePoint. I'll discuss high level architecture, authentication and integration scenarios, so stay tuned!