SharePoint Trends Viewed Through Beer Goggles at Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2012

Greetings from Las Vegas, where 10,000 IT pros, devs, business decision makers and business owners have descended to absorb all the news there is to share about SharePoint 2013. There’s plenty of focus on all of the key megatrends that affected this SharePoint release: the cloud, security and compliance, mobile devices and cross-platform availability, social, search, and of course the new application development models.

This week, I’d like to share with you some of the impressions and experiences and take-aways I’ve gleaned from attendees, vendors, other speakers, and my own experiences. By doing so, I hope to give you some insight into both the hopes and the fears of the broader SharePoint community as we move forward to 2013 and to the cloud.

During the keynote on Monday, I and several others were proposing “drinking games” to play, since we are in Vegas after all.

So let me address some of the trends from a Vegas Drinking Game perspective, just for a bit of fun (I don’t drink much myself, but why not?).

How drunk would we be if we had a drink every time we heard these words:

· SUPER EXCITED. We’d be stumble-home drunk. Microsoft is “super excited” about everything. It’s definitely the catch phrase of the year in Redmond. I tweeted that Yammer has already been integrated into SharePoint because, at the Keynote, the heads of Yammer were “super excited” within the first 30 seconds of their presentation.

· SOCIAL. We’d be making poor decisions about what to say and do in public. Social is a big focus, and the Yammer acquisition has been getting a lot of buzz.

· CLOUD. We’d be in the hospital with irreparable liver damage. This event is all about the cloud, and the services-first world that is being ushered in by SharePoint 2013. Of course, Microsoft is focused solely on Office 365. But the constant, if slow, move towards the cloud is good for other cloud vendors as well: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS… you name it.

· ON-PREMISE. We’d be sober and thirsty. During the keynote, the phrase “on premise” was used by ONE speaker, by Michal Gideoni. Microsoft’s messaging is “all-in on the cloud”. So are the metrics that are being used to measure performance across Microsoft—it’s all about Office 365 licenses. That leaves many in the community wondering whether on-premise deployments are starting to get left behind.

· INFOPATH. I, personally, didn’t hear InfoPath mentioned until Day 3, and then only occasionally. Microsoft’s story on forms-based solutions is thin—to be generous. I have got to think another story must be on its way. Is it Lightswitch? Is it Access? Is it third-party ISV apps like Nintex?

· RELEASE CYCLE. We’d be punch-drunk. One of the “big news” items is the very clear statement that Office 365 will see quarterly updates with significant new functionality. Microsoft is turning its army of engineers—who to date have been building the back end of Office 365—to developing functionality. And it’s going to benefit us all. One of the commonly-tweeted questions, which has gone unanswered, is “what about on premise release cycles?”

· ADOBE’s FAULT. We’d have a good buzz. One of Jeff Teper’s demonstrations failed during the keynote, and he blamed Dreamweaver. While he was probably correct, “it’s Adobe’s fault” has become the tongue-in-cheek excuse for everything that went wrong.

· INTERNET PROBLEMS. You’d need a blood transfusion. Internet access here at the Mandalay Bay has been disastrous which makes demonstrating cloud-based technologies… well… impossible. The cloud is great. If you can get to it.

At the SharePoint Conference, it’s all about Microsoft’s message. 10,000 people are here to – quite knowingly – drink the KoolAid. Soon, SharePoint 2013 will reach general availability and will be “in the wild.” As that happens, we’ll start seeing behind the sheen and behind the promises of “it just works,” just as we have with previous releases. It won’t be perfect. But that’s OK.

My main takeaway is that Microsoft has a clear direction and, honestly, it’s the right direction for the customers I visit and talk with every day. Microsoft might not make every step perfectly. They might miss some steps completely that someone might think were necessary. But they do move forward, and they have delivered a very solid release that provides really significant business value. Overall, I’m a big fan of SharePoint 2013. It’s not perfect, but it’s really good, and it’s (in my opinion) much much better than SharePoint 2010.

In fact, SharePoint 2013 keeps most of the goodness of SharePoint 2010 but adds on top of it, without taking away much of anything, except for things that blocked adoption and usability. This is a user-focused release. I continue to stand by my very generic position that I wouldn’t start any new project on SharePoint 2010 at this point—I’d expect that almost any new workload will be better supported on 2013, either in the cloud or on prem. And I’m proud to be working alongside a company that is disciplined enough to get a huge product like SharePoint across the finish line, and into the market, so that I and we all can use it to solve real business problems.

Welcome to the partly-cloudy world of SharePoint 2013.

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