SharePoint's Growing Ecosystem: An Economic Stimulus Package?

An amazing amount of human brain power is being expended to create solutions to fill a perceived need in SharePoint. According to a Microsoft spokesperson, more than 700,000 developers are building on SharePoint. Additionally, the SharePoint developer community is growing 15 percent year over year.

Some more stats from Microsoft: There are more than 1,000 ISV solutions for SharePoint 2010, and an additional 1,000 in development. 93,000 partners have been trained with SharePoint this year, and more than 4,000 partners have earned SharePoint-related competencies.

Those statistics are elastic--vendors are beginning to acquire other vendors, a trend that occurs as technology platforms begin to mature (see also Microsoft SQL Server and the distillation of many vendors into a few over the last six years). Microsoft, too, has been known to acquire a few companies in its past, weaving the acquired technology into subsequent versions of its products. Even SharePoint.

Microsoft has also been known to acquire companies not for their technology but more as a strategic play in the great chess game that is the 21st century technology market. Or maybe not chess—TicTacToe is more like it. The current move being pondered, hand on piece—or hand poised to scrawl an X—is whether to acquire Yammer, a provider of private social enterprise networks, which styles itself as a "Facebook for business" solution.

Yammer isn't even a "real" SharePoint product. Its goal is not to join with SharePoint but to pull SharePoint into it. "Increase visibility of SharePoint activity by surfacing it in a real-time Activity Streams Ticker on the Yammer homepage," the Yammer site says.

Who else could Microsoft acquire to help it make SharePoint better? Impossible to answer. There are so many SharePoint vendors. SharePoint Reviews website adds up SharePoint products by these categories: 203 content management products, 97 “look and feel” products, 42 “findability” products, 171 business productivity products, 79 business solution products, 30 social computing products, 112 deployment products, 137 administration products. Its grand total is 871 SharePoint products.

In a cursory search on the Internet (and a quick dive into my Inbox), I gathered a list of over 60 vendors in a plethora of solution areas, all related to SharePoint:

1. AgilePoint: SharePoint BPM
2. Aptimize: SharePoint optimization
3. Arx CoSign: Digital signature solutions
4. Atalasoft: SharePoint document management
5. Avanade: SharePoint consulting
6. AvePoint: SharePoint migration, deployment, management, security etc.
7. Axceler: SharePoint migration, deployment, management, security etc.
8. Azaleos: SharePoint remote management, monitoring
9. Bamboo Solutions: Web Parts
10. BA Insight: SharePoint search
11. BlueThread: SharePoint solutions
12. BPA: Hosted SharePoint
13. BrightWork: SharePoint work, project, and portfolio management
14. Cloudshare: Hosted SharePoint
15. Colligo Networks: SharePoint integration, workflow
16. CommVault: SharePoint storage and archiving
17. ConceptSearching: SharePoint taxonomy management
18. Cybozu: SharePoint apps
19. Dark Blue Duck: SharePoint content management
20. EMC: SharePoint extension to virtual and cloud
21. EnovaPoint: SharePoint content management
22. F5: SharePoint deployment
23. fpwebnet: Hosted SharePoint
24. GSX Solutions: SharePoint monitoring
25. SharePoint integration
26. HiSoftware: SharePoint
27. Idera: SharePoint management, diagnostics
28. Infragistics: user experience software, UI development tools
29. iOra: high performance SharePoint replication
30. Kaldeera: SharePoint content management
31. K2: SharePoint workflow and tools
32. Kofax: SharePoint document capture
33. Knowledge Lake: SharePoint document imaging and workflow
34. Kroll Ontrack: SharePoint restoration
35. Magic Software: SharePoint integration
36. MessageSolution: SharePoint archiving etc.
37. Metalogix: SharePoint migration, management
38. Metavis: SharePoint migration
39. Mindsharp: SharePoint training
40. Neudesic: SharePoint BI, social, mobile
41. NetApp: SharePoint storage
42. NetWrix: SharePoint auditing
43. Nevron Software: SharePoint data visualization
44. NewsGator: SharePoint social networking
45. Nintex: SharePoint workflow
46. Nuance: SharePoint imaging
47. OfficeWriter: SharePoint document management
48. Panorama Software: Social business intelligence software
49. Pentalogic: Analysis, planning, formatting, and alerting Web Parts
50. Quest: SharePoint management, migration
51. Rackspace: SharePoint hosting
52. Scinaptic: SharePoint integration
53. SharePoint AMS: SharePoint Web Parts
54. SharePointBoost: SharePoint Web Parts
55. SharePoint Solutions: SharePoint add-ons
56. SharePointTree: SharePoint content management
57. ShareSquared: SharePoint design, deployment, custom
58. Symantec: SharePoint storage
59. Syntergy: SharePoint replication SharePoint division recently acquired by Metalogix
60. Texcel: SharePoint document conversion
61. TITUS: SharePoint security
62. Tzunami: SharePoint migration, deployment
63. Vialutions: SharePoint content management
64. Virto: SharePoint Web Parts
65. Vizit: SharePoint document management
66. Webtrends: SharePoint analytics
67. Workshare: SharePoint document comparison

Notice that the list doesn't even include the numerous SharePoint consulting firms and training companies. And I'm sure I've left some obvious vendors off by accident.

Some would point to this list as evidence that SharePoint is a bad product. After all, look at all the solutions needed just to get it to work right and to fill its gaps.

Some would point to this list as evidence of SharePoint's goodness. After all, if it weren't any good, no one would be investing time and precious resources in creating solutions for it.

I lack the emotion of the SharePoint Twitter-verse and blogosphere, which offers plenty of examples of SharePoint love and hatred.

I see SharePoint as an economic stimulus package. I'm working because of it. You're working because of it. Long live SharePoint.


Discuss this Blog Entry 4

on Jul 11, 2012
I'm definitely not one who thinks SharePoint is a bad product. It's true many companies flocked to it because it was a superior ECM product when it launched almost a decade ago, but it has proven it's worth over and over again which is why companies still utilize it. As a result, it has created a healthy ecosystem. I constantly see the need for IT pros and developers with SharePoint experience. With the popularity in IaaS, most notably Azure, we can see the need for more Sharepoint developers rise over the next decade.
on Jun 24, 2012
I don't see why anyone would fault SharePoint or Microsoft for having a list of developers and products to extend SP. If it was an open source product like Alfresco, the community would be saying it's a wonderful thing that the product is being supported. I have worked with developers who do not understand the development model of SharePoint, they want to go to code first, whereas a more sustainable model of SP development is to utilize OOB features and third party products as much as possible before going to code. Maybe this is heresy in programming circles but it certainly seems to work.
on Jun 21, 2012
You have a point there. I don't usually think of it that way, probably because I don't create solutions on it. And I've heard a lot of people say that even though you CAN do something on SharePoint, with help from third parties/solutions, that doesn't necessarily mean you SHOULD do it. Though I'm not faulting consultants, some of whom do tell their clients, 'no, you probably shouldn't use SharePoint in that manner' but the clients insist nonetheless.
BrianAlex (not verified)
on Jun 21, 2012
Great article and list. I'd say that the same list shows what Sharepoint really is, it's platform for users to create solutions on using a great plethora of different tools, not a standalone application full of flaws that require extensive use of consultants.

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Caroline Marwitz

Caroline Marwitz writes at the intersection of technology, design, and psychology, riffing on her years as editor and web content manager for SharePoint Pro Magazine and editor at Windows IT Pro...

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