I've had several opportunities to pick Joel Oleson's brain about SharePoint. This time it was about SharePoint’s oddly compelling rise in popularity. The key driver for SharePoint’s growth, he says, are three things:
1. Enterprise licenses got enterprises on board.
2. End-user adoption—the user finds it easy to use.
3. It’s a broad platform you can use for many things.
“In any one of the slices that SharePoint covers, you can find another product that’s better, but no product integrates them all as SharePoint does.”
When people don’t use SharePoint, what are they using instead? “I think it’s silos. Sure Alfresco [Open-source enterprise content management solution] and Community Server [recently renamed Telligent Community 5.0 collaboration software] and Documentum [EMC’s enterprise content management and collaboration solution] are being used, but when you start looking at this from a platform view, you see very few competitors to SharePoint as a platform. The exciting thing is, no vendor owns it.”
That said, he mentioned three pain points with SharePoint. As everyone knows, one person’s pain is another person’s opportunity to sell a third-party solution:
1. Backup and restore—it’s not that Microsoft doesn’t have products to help with this (DPM for example), but it’s still painful.
3. Workflow—"Microsoft has made progress."
And SharePoint has gaps and areas where a third-party solution is needed: “SharePoint gives you a decent foot in the door, but it can’t line up right now against BI [solutions from third parties]. But when it comes to collaboration, it’s great,” he says. And records management? “You’re going to need devs.”
Is that a problem? Not necessarily—it depends on the developer. “Your dev environment is often engaged first but there’s always this buy versus build issue—you don’t need to reinvent. But even systems integrators don’t always know who the vendors are in the space.”
What about Web parts?—“That’s what SharePoint is about—you can bolt on these add-ons. Devs are used to starting from the ground up instead of building on top of an existing platform. Now they get to dance with SharePoint and SharePoint dances a certain way.”