Monday, October 25, 2010

Final Thoughts on SPTechCon Boston

One thousand, one hundred seventy-four registrants from 46 of the 50 United States and 29 countries. More than 80 technical classes and workshops, taught by 47 of the brightest minds in the SharePoint universe. Forty-five Microsoft partners displaying all manner of add-ons and extensions to the SharePoint platform. All that adds up to the most successful SPTechCon to date, held last week in Cambridge, Mass., just a stone's throw across the Charles River from downtown Boston.

As Microsoft SharePoint evangelist Steve Fox noted in his keynote address, SPTechCon has momentum. He made a point to highlight the outstanding faculty -- many Microsoft Certified Masters and MVPs were on hand -- and urged attendees to seek them out, which they did.
The great thing about the SharePoint speaker community is that they love to talk about SharePoint. So, whether it was after a session, during a coffee break, or riding up in an elevator, attendees were able to avail themselves of the experts and get answers to their questions.

I'd like to acknowledge a few folks who went above and beyond the call, to help SPTechCon continue to be a first-rate event. First there is Mauro Cardarelli, who took over a full-day workshop when the original speaker dropped out the day before the event. His session went so smoothly you'd have thought he had months to prepare. And even when he was held up in traffic getting to the hotel that morning, so Susan Lennon -- a well-known speaker who was at the conference as an attendee herself -- jumped in to "tap dance" with a smooth Q&A session until Mauro arrived. And Bill English, who gave the second keynote, realized during his talk that his mention of "managing up" a SharePoint deployment could be extended into another session, and he created just that on-site (foregoing much of a speaker party to work up slides). It drew nearly 50 people!

That shows you just how dedicated SharePoint speakers are to share their knowledge with folks who are new to the software (to say nothing of the discussions with more advanced users). And, during the lunches, it was enlightening to sit among the attendees and hear a business user from one company discussing his issues with an IT administrator from another company, each trying to gain more insight into the other's roles, and how they can bring that knowledge back to their jobs to get their own teams working together better.

SharePoint is not a developer tool, nor is it an end user productivity suite, or a complex deployment for IT adminstrators. It is, in fact, all of those things. And only when all facets are working together do the true benefits of SharePoint become realized.

That's what attendees are coming to expect from SPTechCon, and that's what we plan to continue to provide. By listening to attendees and speakers, we're working to continue to make SPTechCon a "must attend" technical conference (yes, we know the hotel was too small, so things were a little tight. Next year, bigger hotel -- more space, more classes, more ELEVATORS!). But, by the looks of the numbers, we're doing something right. And we thank all of you -- attendees, speakers and sponsors.

We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco at the next SPTechCon, Feb. 7-9. As an aside, Boston's SPTechCon sold out about five weeks before the event. My advice for San Francisco is to book early!

-- David

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Microsoft's Steve Fox Keynotes at SPTechCon

Steve Fox, senior evangelism manager in Microsoft's Developer and Platform Group, opened the technical conference at SPTechCon with a standing-room-only keynote talk about SharePoint and The Cloud. Three key elements for "extending the boundaries" of collaboration and communication are Microsoft's newly announced Office 365 (the new BPOS), integration with Azure (Microsoft's cloud) and SharePoint Online. Fox talked about how consumer cloud services such as Bing, Hotmail, Windows Live and integrations with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be used with commercial cloud services such as Azure, SQL Azure, Office 365, Exchange Online, Dynamics CRM Online, and Lync (formerly Office Communications Server) Online, to create dynamic experiences for users. He gave the example of a real estate agent using Bing maps to give street-level views of neighborhoods, virtual tours of the homes, then using e-mail to send a client the listing, and using Azure and Office services to auto-generate documents for mortgage calculations, seller agreements, and more. Those documents can then be uploaded into SharePoint for back-end management, including putting them into workflows and storing them in libraries.
Fox also pointed attendees to a site that uses Silverlight Pivot technology to offer up images of Internet sites using SharePoint. The image gallery can be pivoted by country, industry or other pre-defined settings to zoom in on those most relevant to the viewer.
He noted that by 2012, 80 percent of Fortune 1000 businesses will have a position in the cloud, and that 20 percent of all businesses will own no IT of their own. They'll be deployed in the cloud.
-- David

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Introducing SPTechWeb

There’s a new destination for SharePoint news and information: SPTechWeb. Produced by BZ Media, which publishes this newsletter and produces the hugely, wildly popular SPTechCon conferences, the site will feature news about the SharePoint platform and its extensions, as well as blogs, community-related information and, of course, Linkapalooza!

It is, like all things in the ether, a work in progress, and we’re counting on you to visit, then tell us what you like or don’t like about the site.

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Speaking of next week’s SPTechCon: This from editor Mark Miller, a man of many (porkpie) hats:

At SharePoint Conference 2009 in Las Vegas, MetaVis Technologies and worked together to coordinate 30 livebloggers from the floor and conference sessions. It was a hit, with over 3,000 people following online. We actually logged over 27,000 tweets and thousands of live updates!

We're going to team up and do the same thing again for SPTechCon 2010 in Boston, Oct. 20–22, 2010, and we would like for you to join us. You can tweet, you can liveblog, you can lurk. We'll provide the platform; you provide the content. We will display everything on a 100-inch monitor on the conference floor so that those in attendance can see what's going on.

Register here if you want to be a part of the blogging, tweeting and lurking.

Friday, October 8, 2010

SharePoint Architecture: Centralized or Decentralized?

By Christian Buckley

An important question to answer when moving to SharePoint 2010 is how to design the new environment: centralized, with a traditional, top-down managed portal; or a decentralized environment, featuring user-driven collaboration? Many companies struggle with this decision, and for good reason: These decisions determine how the environment will be managed, how customizations will be supported, and the level of difficulty of future upgrades.

Most organizations are familiar with the centralized environments of intranet portals. Some of the benefits within a centralized SharePoint environment include consistent use of content types and workflows, reduced metadata duplication, and documented customizations that make system updates and platform upgrades much easier. This model is easier for supporting and training end users, managing business processes, controlling information policies, and providing metrics and key performance indicators.

But there are downsides to the centralized model. It takes a lot of design and planning; requires more upfront work and maintenance; requires an increased reliance on governance and formal change control boards; and has difficulty managing across site collections and portals.

Most end users prefer a more decentralized environment where they can control when and how they collaborate. From an administrative standpoint, there are definite advantages, such as little or no planning, very little upfront effort to deploy, and low time/cost to train end users.

With decreased emphasis on taxonomy and business process management, most decentralized systems work across site collections and portals. These systems more closely mirror the consumer-based collaboration platforms users are accustomed to using, such as social networks and microblogging sites.

The downsides to this approach are that they decrease consistency, increase metadata duplication, and make taxonomy management complex. Decentralized environments are also hard to update, support and train on, manage information policies with, and upgrade.

One of the primary benefits of SharePoint 2010 as a platform is the use of services. By deploying shared services at the enterprise level, companies can utilize the flexibility and collaborative benefits of the decentralized model, allowing end users to collaborate organically while still maintaining some degree of control over taxonomy and metadata, source data, InfoPath forms and critical business processes. Sites and site collections can consume these services as needed, but retain local control over every other aspect of their environments.

There still remain administrative impacts, such as the need to define roles and service owners, as well as the need to define your governance model for these services, but overall, SharePoint 2010 offers the enterprise much more power and flexibility that more closely mirrors the ways modern teams connect and collaborate.

Christian Buckley is director of product evangelism at echoTechnology, an Axceler company.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Microsoft Making Strong Move into Hosting

By David Rubinstein

Microsoft announced this week that it will be previewing its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) later this year. The updated suite will include SharePoint 2010 Online and other business productivity servers, such as Lync 2010 Online, Exchange 2010 Online and Office Live Meeting, as well as the Office Web Apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

BPOS is popular among users, Microsoft says, because it has a relatively lower cost for subscriptions when compared to the older licensing models, resulting in easier access to newer technologies. “A lot of customers are seeing the cloud as an opportunity to move to newer versions of the applications that they’re already using,” said Betsy Frost Webb, Microsoft’s general manager of online services.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Where Is SharePoint Heading?

By David Rubinstein

Cloud-oriented services. Consumerization of information technology. Increased productivity.

These are the long-term trend views that are “really top of mind” at Microsoft as its engineers look for ways to extend both the capabilities and the accessibility of SharePoint going forward, according to Jared Spataro, SharePoint Product Management Team lead.

Before discussing where SharePoint’s going, though, it’s important to first see where it is. Spataro said in an exclusive interview with SPTechReport that Microsoft is seeing a phased adoption approach, a journey, if you will.

First, he said, organizations are licensing SharePoint to fill an immediate need. Most often, that’s creating an internal social network for collaboration, or document management.

The second phase shows a consistent pattern, he said. “Users say, ‘OK, we’ve got a quick win. Now we want to standardize on the platform. What else can we do?’ ” This usually takes the form of creating content management systems and asset libraries – things organizations are doing now but can do more effectively on SharePoint, Spataro said.

The third phase occurs when organizations are comfortable with SharePoint as a platform, and they begin to consider new things they can do with the software, Spataro said. He mentioned such efforts as creating a SharePoint community for all the company’s technical engineers, or creating new processes and workflows that can add business value.

While research shows adoption of SharePoint 2010 has not been widespread, Spataro attributed that to people being “thoughtful and doing planning before adoption, so they’re looking at it in a real intelligent way.”

He said for the 2010 release, the company did a much better job with having support materials and training available at release time than it did with the 2007 release. That version enjoyed a large, rapid uptake due primarily to the re-architecting of the software and the myriad new capabilities that were added.

“At that time, during the 2007 launch wave, we spent most of our time explaining what SharePoint is,” Spataro said. “Maybe even up to two years after the software was released, people were asking ‘What is SharePoint?’ ”

That has not been the case with the 2010 release, he pointed out. “Now, it’s a big change. People get it. Now they want to know what more can I do with SharePoint?”

With additional tools for developer, designers, architects and administrators, SharePoint 2010 offers greater depth than its predecessors, and organizations are taking SharePoint in exciting new directions as far as workflows, processes and branding are concerned.

So, where is SharePoint heading now? Spataro would not delve into specifics, but he did offer what he called a “trend view” of the future of SharePoint.

It’s moving into the cloud. “That’s a win-win economically for Microsoft and our customers,” Spataro said. “It’s a new way to abstract away the complexity of keeping SharePoint up and running. We want to lead the drive into the cloud.”

As such, users will expect the same kind of experiences with SharePoint that they get with their personal applications. “People want to same experience with their enterprise applications. They want to use consumer applications to work with a partner in Singapore as they can with a friend down the street.”

Microsoft will also assist with innovation and productivity in future releases. “Organizations want to build new applications that do new things. We find that our customers’ minds are jelling around productivity applications.”

No timeframes have been set for the next release, though Spataro did say Microsoft will try to continue to sync the release of SharePoint with other products in the business productivity suite, such as Office and project management solutions.

“We don’t put a hard time to drop something,” he explained. “We ask, ‘Where are we going with it?’ That said, it has been a two-three year release cycle, and we want to make it shorter. Moving to cloud services will help us achieve that.”

Monday, October 4, 2010

Some Links For You!

The Mets are cooked, the Giants are stumbling out of the gate. What’s a sports fan to do during these troubling times? Why, turn his attention to hockey, eh? The Linker is excited by the competition he sees in the New York Rangers training camp, but important decisions must be made to finalize the roster. It must be brutal to skate alongside someone who wants to take your job. The Linker would lose his mind if the editor of this newsletter started trying out a new, younger, faster linker. That’s why he continues to perform at such a high level, bringing only the finest of links to you, dear readers!

SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Metadata Management: The Series...

Iron Speed Designer 7.1 Released—SharePoint 2010 Support and More!

Vulnerability in ASP.NET—Security Bulletin...

Webcast: Project 2010 with SharePoint 2010...

Project Management with SharePoint Task Lists...

Not-so-random YouTube entry: Mystery

Friday, October 1, 2010

How Are You Using SharePoint?

Four months after SharePoint 2010 was released, 8% of enterprises had deployed it, while 80% remained on SharePoint Server 2007. That is among the findings of a new SharePoint survey released Tuesday by Global 360, a document management and process solution provider. The study of 886 respondents in more than 50 industries found that 67% deployed SharePoint across their enterprise, while 17% had it in multiple departments, and 11% had SharePoint limited to 1–3 departments. The majority of users answering the survey—more than 67%—use SharePoint for document workflow, while 66% selected portal and Web content management. There’s a lot of interesting information in the report, and it’s a free download from the company’s website. Check it out.