SharePoint 2010 (news, site) is getting a lot of attention, especially since the sneak peeks came out from Microsoft. And it will get even more attention the closer it gets to the SharePoint Conference in mid October.
What are they key themes with SharePoint 2010 that consultants and customers alike are seeing with the new version of SharePoint and what migration plans are being considered?
Improved Features, New Focus
We've seen clearly that the SharePoint 2010 pillars have taken on a new focus. Consultant firm SharePoint360 CTO Ed Goddin and John Honeycutt, Sales and Marketing Manager indicated in an interview that they see Microsoft continuing its trend of less focus on IT and more on Business. They say the focus is shifting to the business user and their problems. It's also about mobility -- having access anywhere, and about the internet, not just the Intranet.
What are the key features we've seen to date?
BCS - Business Connectivity Services
Goddin and Honeycutt see the Business Connectivity Services and FAST search as two technologies customers will want to leverage. Business Connectivity Services, called the BDC in SharePoint 2007 were nice but complex to build and deploy. With the BCS in SP2010 it becomes much easier to bring LOB data into SharePoint.
Shawn Shell, Principal, Consejo, Inc and contributing analyst for CMS Watch, says the BCS will lead to better integration between SharePoint and LOBs, but adds that he hasn't seen too much uptake on the BDC because if its complexity, so it's hard to know if the new version will get much attention.
What about that write back capability? Goddin says security, checks and parameters will be critical to using it, although they haven't yet had many write back requests from clients.
Probably some of the biggest improvements we've seen to date are for the developer. Shell says "While most clients won't be too thrilled or care about these improvements, it may lead to more affordable and/or improved development cycles -- which typically translates a better experience."
Speaking of Developer improvements, the SharePoint Designer, which many love to fear, is getting quite a facelift for SharePoint 2010. Although its implementation is very specific to each organization, Shell doesn't see it being used more, stating that the governance challenges for broad distribution are too great. It will, however, remain a tool for many power users and some developers to help speed up deployment of new functionality.
Anxious to Move to SharePoint 2010?
As we hear more about the changes to SharePoint that will come with the next version in 2010, we wonder what SharePoint customers are thinking. Are they planning migration strategies now, anxious to take advantage of new features and functionality?
According to Shell, he's seeing mixed reactions. Clients with smaller -- or no current implementation on SharePoint 2007 are holding off doing anything else until the next version becomes available. Clients with larger implementations, however, are planning to wait at least 6-12 months after SP2010 comes out.
Focusing on Improving SharePoint 2007 Implementations
If you are excited about SharePoint 2010 keep in mind, there's a long road ahead of you. Yes, there are some really nice improvements from what we have seen in the previews, but there it is not here yet. So if you have spent time designing and developing your SharePoint 2007 environment, now may be the best time to clean it up, improve it and have all your ducks in a row when migration time actually does come.
Shell agrees, "Certainly in situations where migration is near, I would always recommend that clients "clean up their house" before doing anything. Based on my experience with 2003 to 2007 migrations and 2007 implementations in general, I wouldn't expect to see significant work on 2010 until 2011. However, that doesn't preclude doing the work necessary to make that transition smoother today."
What does it mean to "clean house? Well, it's a little bit about getting your strategy clearly defined -- which applies to both your web/application strategy in general and to your SharePoint implementation specifically. But it also means aligning with best practices and ensuring your governance policies are in place and being followed.
Your SharePoint Future
Anyone who thinks SharePoint is going to be anything less that a key application for the Desktop worker may want to reconsider that thought. SharePoint 2010 should help solidify that with its deeper Office integration and UI improvements.
So yes, you may want to start thinking about SP2010. But before you start down that path, take a harder look at your current implementation and make sure it's in line with your strategy and is well governed.
You may want to consider how to prepare for 2010 from an infrastucture perspective, but don't rush the planning for functionality. Wait at least until the SharePoint Conference in October.