It may be time for SharePoint to pick a new analogy. After all, how long do you stay “at the crossroads?” And isn’t it true that, at crossroads, you pick one direction and forgo the other?
I don’t think there’s a hybrid solution to a crossroads. And what SharePoint is doing looks more like an on-ramp to a cloud-based superhighway than crossroads.
But at the 2015 SharePoint Tech Con in Austin, Texas yesterday, the keynote panel was packed with IT professionals talking about SharePoint at the crossroads, as they’ve been doing for a few years now, ever since Microsoft started ooching the platform toward the cloud.
Making Sense of Change
Panelists Joel Oleson, director of search strategy with BA Insight; Laura Rogers, manager of SharePoint consultants at Rackspace Hosting; Dan Holme, co-founder of IT Unity; Marc Anderson, co-founder and president of Sympraxis Consulting; Todd Klindt, consultant at SharePoint 911; and Rob Windsor, author and founder of the North Toronto .NET User Group agreed that the decision to move from on-premises services to the cloud had to be based on a business strategy that made sense for the individual organization rather than in response to trends.
They acknowledged enterprise users’ frustrations, which Holme called more of a communication problem than an IT problem.
In the past, Microsoft was way behind the industry in implementing new features and has gone to implementing them so rapidly that an item a company demoed yesterday might be gone today. The focus tends to be on the end user, which isn’t always the most useful for an enterprise. And in 2015, a lot of organizations are still trying to figure out SharePoint 2013.
Problems With the Cloud
Participants had their own issues. One audience member asked what was to become of governance architecture when a hybrid system is introduced and end users just want to dump their files someplace.
After the session, Bob Daumer, SharePoint Analyst for Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems America, expressed his concerns that the US Export Control Regulations forbid his organization from storing information on servers in certain countries. But if they’re using a cloud-based system, he can’t know whether he’s in violation of those regulations.
Exhibitor Chris Tomich, co-founder of Glyma, based in Australia, worries about resource industries in remote places where it’s not logical or cost effective to build fast Internet. Glyma builds on SharePoint by allowing users to visually model their knowledge. Organizations based in Sydney have no worries about connectivity but their satellite organization in places like Perth struggle with patchy or non-existent connection. And the cost of a satellite in some places is prohibitive.
Teresa Fisher, Microsoft SharePoint Applications System Analyst for Quaker Chemical Corp., has been using SharePoint since 2003 and dealt with lots of iterations is just trying to figure out her organization’s roadmap.
“I'm delving deep into the dark deep secrets of Microsoft SharePoint,” she said, in explanation of her presence at the conference. “I figure in 2016 we’ll update and move some of our functionality to the cloud, then start doing some as a hybrid and take a gradual approach.”
The great thing, she said, is to be surrounded by her peers who are also talking about how they’re handling SharePoint issues and migrations.
All in It Together
“I’ve been in information architecture 10 years but I went to a session on information architecture yesterday, because after 10 years, you get complacent,” she said. ”I always feel like maybe I’m not quite up to speed on something. These tech conferences are perfect. They’re very pointed. People who are out there doing it now are presenting. I get to have my cup of tea and ask ‘What does everyone think about this?’ You can bounce ideas off your peers … because you have 2000 peers here.”
If you’re going to be scratching your head at an on-ramp or crossroads, it’s nice to have company.