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#SPC12 SharePoint 2012 Conference Wrap Up

November 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m comfortably ensconced in my home office, space heater going, ears ringing with Vegas din, and sipping an AlkaSeltzer laden water to relieve my cold symptoms picked up from too many hours in too many packed conference rooms.

Wow, what a show.

Looking back over all my other previous postings, you may develop an impression of me as an unrestrained fan of SharePoint and its related, integrated technologies.  You’d be right.  I love the product and especially what I’ve seen in this new release.  But, to be objective, let me run through the major items as I see them:

Social

The Yammer acquisition is “terrifically exciting” (could that phrase become any more overused by MS staff?) but is a bit awkward right now. SP 2013 already had a bunch of great activity, newsfeed and micro-blog social components that look very nice.  On the surface, Yammer doesn’t add much to that and, in fact, muddies the water a bit since no one at MS is completely certain exactly how they are going to fit in.  In the long run, I think it will become the social messaging bus for all the business products (SP, Dynamics) and this will be a good thing.  As a Yammer Enterprise user, I see the value of social and am a big believer in what this can do when used right.

Search

If it wasn’t social being talked about, it was search.  Combining Enterprise and FAST in this release is a good thing – the two products were unnecessary.  Also, as anyone dealing with corporate content governance can tell you, creating stuff is easy – finding stuff is hard.  What MS has done is create a search-driven system from structured meta-data and user managed tags that allows users to favorite, like, and share documents and see document previews in the search results.  I think this goes a long way to making SharePoint ever MORE useable for content storage and, I believe, will kill file shares in the mid-term.

BI

As with many things in this release, MS didn’t go for hot, new sexy features.  They just vastly improved what was already there.  PPS, Excel Services, Power Pivot and PowerView all basically function the same but have significant improvements in security model and usability that will make them much more useful to end users.  That’s a hard pitch to make to your corporate masters driven by earning releases, splashy news press and units moved but they pulled on their big-boy pants and did it – and they did it across everything, not just BI.  By doing so, they are showing a commitment to making this a real integrated platform not just a platform that can be demo’d but doesn’t really work.

Cloud

Clearly, MS is staking EVERYTING on cloud.  From O365 to ERP to CRM to AZURE, you are seeing MS move its entire business model out of your data center and into its own.  But, while doing that, they are being realistic in understanding that no-one is going for a full cloud IT model.  The ability to federate to Azure ADS and O365 for single-sign-on was very nice, as were the cross-platform development tools to bind all this stuff together and the cross-browser support message that was consistently and repeatedly delivered in every session.  With that said, I still think MS is missing the boat on its Azure costing model.  All hosting partners charge for a machine of a specific size and for blocks of storage; Azure, instead, charges by proc, storage AND bandwidth making cost management for app deployment in Azure a bit tough to manage costs.  I will write more on this in a separate post.  They addressed this a bit by allowing SP apps to be hosted in O365 at no charge, so that’s a big plus, but I still think more changes will have to come.

In Closing

Yeah, I’m a fan-boy of Sharepoint but I’m not an idiot.  I’ve seen MS screw up too many times with me being on the receiving end of it to unreservedly admire what they’ve done.  The next two or three months, as the product is released and we start using it, will tell the real truth.  But, IF they just do what they said they will AND IF they just keeping hitting the flywheel like they did with this release they WILL have a great product for us to use.

#SPC12 Sharepoint 2012–New Stuff in Enterprise Content Management

November 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Yawn.  Seriously, who the hell cares about ECM?

Apparently, me, Jim Mason, Tejas Mehta (both MS presenters) and about a 1000 other people crammed into a man-scented sweaty ballroom at #SPC12.

I’ve been working with ECM inside Sharepoint since the last release and really thought it a good step up.  Centralized taxonomy was solid, content types were good if not quite as integrated to Document Center and workflow as I would have liked and the combination of taxonomy with folksonomy and the use of termsets in navigation really jumped us up a level.

The next release is a mountain of gold better than that.  Here’s what I liked:

  • Hash tags becomes first level content and can be profiled to associate them with a termset member thereby allowing for a strict correlation between tags users enter (folksonomy) and the centralized term store (taxonomy – which reflects the site content organizing principles)
  • The new “drag and drop into a library” feature (direct from the web page) allows inline mass editing of the added documents.  Maybe I should write this as “the finally made list act like Excel and you can really edit the crap out of them.  YAAAAYYYYYY!!!”
  • Team sites can have Exchange inboxes.  Pretty cool.  But, even cooler, you can hit them with Outlook like they are your mailbox, send email to them, drag docs into them and even promote an email into the documents folder for the site by dragging it from an email.  Epic.
  • All conversations (newsfeeds, etc) become first level content for ECM so they can be managed and searched.
  • But, a really cool idea:  Take your termset.  Make it your navigation element for the site.  Then, rather than having the termset nav element return a specific page (for say “marketing”) have it return a page with a content query that uses Search to return everything associated with the element of the termset tied to the navigation bar.  This way, you get ALL content associated with the term (video, power point, conversations, etc) and you DON’T HAVE TO CREATE SEPARATE PAGES!

 

They then went on to talk about eDiscovery but I didn’t listen as I was deep in a reverie about how to redesign our corporate site.

Man, I love technology.

Sharepoint 2012–Keynote

November 12, 2012 Leave a comment

10,000 attendees from 85 separate countries.  Crowds acres thick.  Badges swinging off backpacks rich with ISV paid ads.  Crappy breakfast food.

Ah yes..I’m back at a Microsoft conference.  This time, its Sharepoint 2012 where we are big braining on everything related to Sharepoint 15-2013-whatever.

The keynote was great -  not incredibly polished like the Partner meetings or sounding like a bad Russian gangster movie like Dynamics conferences and, yes, it did have a failed Surface demo.  But, the product showed REALLY well and the changes in 2013 are epic.

Here’s my shortlist:

  • MySite gets a major respect upgrade and now becomes the focus of the entire experience.  It concentrates tasks across sites (through Exchange), it allows document follows AND site follows, it allows for site recommendations and TOTALLY makes easier the ability to upload and create documents.  Further, the newsfeed, sites, tags, etc all work better and they’ve reduced the need to go to the site settings page.  Combined with document preview windows, its really, really nicely done.
  • Everything is more interconnected.  SkyDrive Pro, SkyDrive, Outlook, Office – all of it works together across all platforms (including iOS) to get at and view documents.  Further, they’ve reduced the dependence on Active X and are support more open protocols (HTML, REST, etc) to allow for browser independence.
  • Disk space usage is lowered through creative storage (like diff’ng docs rather than storing complete versions) and back end server improvements make for a better performing UI (faster refreshes on changed data rather than full page refresh).
  • Search is king.  FAST is cool.
  • The Yammer integration is still new and no one really knows what it means.  However, everyone is really excited about it (by everyone, I mean MS people).  The REALLY big news is that it will still be a standalone offering AND its free to all Office 365 E1 to E4 subscribers.
  • Dynamics got two, count ‘em – two, mentions during the preso as an app that will really shine with Sharepoint.  
  • Office 365 is the chosen platform for deployment with a faster release cycle and more obvious support from MS.  They talked nice about on-premise deployment but the ENTIRE focus is on O365.

That last message was particularly clear in the dev portion of the keynote wherein they discussed the app model changing to an Azure or O365 deployed model.  Oh yeah, don’t forget Azure – they are definitely back dooring it through Sharepoint.

More to come…

TDOR at Sharepoint 2012 – Vegas Baby!

November 12, 2012 1 comment

I, and an awesome team of IBIS folks, are going big brain in Vegas at the Sharepoint 2012 conference.  Standby for more…

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