Monday, October 3, 2011

Greetings from SharePoint Conference! A live blog

I'm here in Anaheim for Microsoft's SharePoint Conference. Walked past a marching band, cheerleaders and some guys dressed in football uniforms on the way to the keynote, promoting collaboration software called "Huddle." A slideshow in the keynote hall featured a mock Metro interface as a DJ dropped some beats in the background while a crowd estimated at 7,500 attendees by Microsoft's PR legions filed in.
Microsoft senior director of SharePoint product management Jared Spataro opened the event with the theme "Productivity Delivered." He reflected on the 2009 event, which featured Steve Ballmer, Huey Lewis and the News ... and the release of SharePoint 2010. It was the "unveiling of our baby to the world," he said. What happens next is what customers and partners do with the product.
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Some stats: sold more than 125 million licenses of SharePoint. If SharePoint were a standalone business, it would be one of the top 50 software firms in the world. Millions of customers using SharePoint Online and Office 365.

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Spataro introduced a funny video of the Microsoft team going to Hollywood to find a good keynote to discuss SharePoint. It featured "teen heartthrob" Luke Perry, Carmen Electra ("How are computers in the cloud? Won't they just fall through?"), Alan Thicke (who thought it was a reality show where he could discuss his innermost feelings about the girls from 'America's Next Top Model' ) and Florence Henderson (who, yes, sang 'The Brady Bunch' theme). The ultimate passionate SharePoint spokesperson they finally hit on? Microsoft vice president Jeff Teper.

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Teper explained the SharePoint team's guiding principles: redefine collaboration,unleash the ecosystem, build a world-class platform. Self-service business intelligence is one area that Teper said was a critical focus, as part of the self-service experience for rich collaboration. A social fabric that enables people to move from one group to the next, with permissions that carry over, using different communications tools, is another powerful feature that Teper cited.
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Collaboration needs to include customers and partners outside the organization, and this is done via SharePoint for extranets. This breaks down the walls of the organization, Teper said. Office 365 takes this to another level, he added.
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11:59 AM local time. First reference to Bill Gates.

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Teper hinted that SharePoint team is working on the next release, then went on to say he won't be talking about it.

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Second guiding principle: the developer ecosystem. There are 700,000 developers working on SharePoint around the world, and 1,162 books on SharePoint available on Amazon, Teper noted.
Visual Studio integration, binding to external line-of-business or database data with read-write, search and take data offline -- those were breakthroughs in SharePoint 2010, he said. First update of Office 365 will have BCS functionality, including read-write data access for cloud-based applications.

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New certification: Microsoft Certified Architect. More info to be published today on microsoft.com. A credential that shows greatest level of depth in the SharePoint community, Teper said.

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Scale, performance and high availability. Richard Riley, SharePoint director, discussed hardware and deployments. VERY technical, discussing racks and clusters, NEC and EMC2 servers. Check out the configuration on microsoft.com/visio.

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FAST search. More than 107 million items returned on a search in 0.23 seconds. Impressive.
High availability. Riley also demonstrated the failover capabilities of a server farm, with 14+ terabytes of data and 7,500 concurrent users. The SharePoint deployment was restored in about 40 seconds. Very impressive.

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Kurt Del Bene, president of the Microsoft Office division, came on to discuss building businesses on top of SharePoint. He said the Office division is betting on SharePoint. Nature of workforce is changing. More stats: 84 percent of businesses have people working remotely. Sixty-five percent are deploying at least one social software tool. Four MILLION millenials are entering the workforce each year. Seventy percent of IT budgets are spent maintaining inflexible and siloed data center solutions. This, he said, is why moving to the cloud has great appeal.

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Del Bene showed a video of NetHope, a charitable organization that uses SharePoint to collaborate, train, manage funds, data and donations. They are working in Haiti to rebuild lives after the devastating earthquake of a few years back. Microsoft is also providing a site where people can donate to NetHope. Unfortunately, as I was going to their site to get the link for you, dear reader, the network here crashed. It failed over quickly, but Microsoft's SharePoint Conference site was corrupted. Unbelievable!

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