In 2011, SharePoint 2010 enters the product lifecycle equivalent of its teenage years. Its infancy is over. It’s no longer that adorable newborn or that cute kid. Now its got visible pimples and problems that only a year of real-world implementation could uncover. But it also has unforeseen strength and more friends. And, as the year progresses, its parents kick it out of the house as Microsoft’s product team prepares for vNext of SharePoint. So what is the prognosis for these awkward teenage years of SharePoint 2010? Let’s take a look into the crystal ball.

Increased Penetration and Adoption

There’s zero doubt that SharePoint 2010’s “tsunami” will make SharePoint 2007’s wave look small. While enterprise adoption of SharePoint 2007 and 2010 is already impressive, many organizations stalled in their SharePoint rollouts during the last few years of tightened budgets. Almost across the board, I hear organizations large and small talking about spending—and spending big—on several big areas in IT in 2011. SharePoint is poised to be a huge benefactor of this spending.

And those organizations that do have SharePoint have, for the most part, only begun to tap the power of the product. For these organizations, SharePoint’s reach will broaden within these organizations into areas where it has not yet been implemented. A survey recently conducted by Colligo found that SharePoint’s most popular applications, to date, are collaboration, document management, project management, and enterprise content management. And the survey found that while functions such as IT, project management, and professional services tend to get SharePoint first, other functions, including manufacturing and, surprisingly, finance, tend to lag behind. We’ll see this change, with more organizations implementing capabilities including business intelligence (BI) and composite applications, which will in many cases reach into finance, ERP, and executive functions.

Cloud on the Horizon

2011 will be a make-it-or-break-it year for Microsoft’s hosted SharePoint services, Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), both the dedicated and shared (BPOS-S) versions based on SharePoint 2010. Their debut is in early 2011, and will be a revolution compared to the current, 2007-based versions.

Technically, I am certain that Microsoft is learning a lot of lessons in scalability and security, particularly of the new service application architecture, and it will be interesting to see just how much of SharePoint 2010’s functionality can be delivered by BPOS-S. I’m also certain that SharePoint vNext will benefit tremendously from these lessons.

Lots of Microsoft employees have report cards on which BPOS penetration plays a big role. Luckily, the market is also ready to look at the cloud: BPOS, Azure, and other cloud-based solutions. But I think the move to the cloud will be a slow one. People are curious, but unsure. 2011 will be a dip-your-toes-in-the-water year. Security and cost-effectiveness will be in sharp focus.

As organizations do test the cloud, they’ll revise their understanding of what the cloud can and cannot provide, and how the cloud, the “private cloud,” and internally hosted SharePoint farms can be difficult to manage with any consistency or efficiency. 2011 will be the beginning of a good ride for companies that provide management solutions that provide a unified view of cloud and local resources and solutions that make it easier for users to work seamlessly across devices and locations.

Storage Turned on Its Head

Increased usage and reliance on SharePoint will push traditional SQL Server-based content storage to its limit. In 2011, people will flock to Remote BLOB Storage (RBS) to reduce the burden on SQL Servers, which after all are designed for transactional processing, not for long-term storage of documents. So content that has traditionally been stored by SharePoint in SQL will now be stored by SharePoint on file servers—what comes around, goes around.

There are solutions from third-party ISVs such as AvePoint that expose file shares as document libraries, with all the bells and whistles that SharePoint provides. Such solutions enable organizations to migrate document collaboration more quickly to SharePoint. So content that has traditionally been brought into SharePoint can be left where it is and exposed as if it were in SharePoint.

Additionally, organizations will move further toward using SharePoint as the gateway to diverse data stores in their organization. I stated that SharePoint 2007’s business intelligence tools were a diving board into a pool with no water. That story has changed, and organizations are looking to SharePoint to provide insights and to surface data from legacy systems.

Anti-Social

Organizations are slowly waking up to the enormous value that knowledge networking—aka enterprise social networking—can unlock. But it’s not happening fast enough. With other priorities and with general malaise about security and compliance, I’m afraid 2011 will not yet be the year for SharePoint-based social networking. Which is too bad. I hope I’m wrong, and I’ll be working hard evangelizing SharePoint social to make myself wrong!

SharePoint vNext

SharePoint 2010 may be only in its “teens” in product lifecycle maturity, but Microsoft is already planning the birth of the next version of SharePoint. I’ll go out on a limb right now and dub it SharePoint 2012. Why 2012? Because the 2012, end-of-the-world connotation is not as strong as another battle with the number “13.” Be sure to communicate to Microsoft in 2011—your feedback will have a more immediate effect while the product is being developed than afterwards. They do care, and they do listen.

I won’t begin to forecast 2012 (the year or the product) at this point, but I’d have to say I’ll be shocked if there isn’t a native solution for geographically distributed farms, including hybrid farms that are both on-premise and in the cloud. I’m talking content replication here—it’s overdue.

This Editor

As for me, I’ll be with you in the trenches, helping my clients to meet their strategic objectives. I hope that will include planning for NBC’s broadcast of the 2012 summer Olympics in London, and all the great ways we can leverage this complex and amazing product called SharePoint 2010.

I’ll also continue to shine light on both the blemishes and the triumphs of SharePoint 2010. So stay tuned to SharePoint Pro Connections—the magazine, the newsletter, the events, and the website—as we continue to prove why we’re trusted as the premier resource for independent SharePoint knowledge, in 2011 and beyond.