One of the big questions around Yammer after it was snapped up last June was what would, or could, Microsoft do with the social software? And what would it do with Yammer and SharePoint? Previously, it has said it would integrate them in three phases: basic integration, deeper connections and connected experiences. At Convergence yesterday, it gave more details about the integration roadmap.
Today’s update comes from Jared Spataro, who heads the SharePoint business in the Office division of Microsoft. During the Office keynote yesterday, the team demonstrated the integration of Yammer in Dynamics CRM, which started shipping last month.
That done, he said, the next step is Office 365, which already received a major upgrade last month. With Yammer that upgrade will continue as part of Microsoft’s wider plan to make Yammer its social layer across all of its products. In blog post this morning, Spataro explained where all this is going.
1. Basic Integration
Office 365 will be updated again this summer, but this time the upgrades will specifically target SharePoint and enable users to replace the SharePoint newsfeed with Yammer. According to Spataro, to avoid confusion, the update will be designed so that users will be able to replace one with the other with a simple click on a link in the navigation bar which will take the user to Yammer.
Also, as part of this, Microsoft will provide a Yammer app in the SharePoint Store that will enable users create a connection between groups and sites. While the SharePoint newsfeed will still be the default feed in Office365, the option to replace it will be obvious.
2. Deeper Connections
Following this in the fall will be a further update to Office 365 that will enable deeper integration between the two. At that point users will have the option of replacing the newsfeed with Yammer, but the integrated Yammer will offer users a Single Sign-On.
This means that when you click on the Yammer link in the Office 365 navigation bar, Yammer will appear under the bar, enabling users to get back to Office 365 services immediately.
The new experience will also offer other capabilities like rich document functionality as well as Office Web Apps integration to enable editing and collaborative editing of Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents.
3. Connected Experiences
Moving forward into 2014, Office 365 will be updated with more social enhancements and will continue to be upgraded every 90 days, in keeping with Microsoft’s plans for the rest of Office 365.
From a Yammer perspective this means deepening the connections between Yammer and Office 365, but will include upgrades that over time will combine social, collaboration, email, instant messaging, voice, video and line of business applications in innovative new ways.
Yammer and SharePoint Server
But many, if not the majority, of customers using SharePoint are using it as an on-premises deployment so they will be looking for ways to connect their Yammer and their SharePoint on-premises.
This will be covered in the summer update, Spataro says, with guidance for replacing the newsfeed on-premises with Yammer. The Yammer app will be a valuable addition in this respect that will enable users to connect between their groups and on-premises SharePoint sites. SharePoint Server will not be updated every 90 days, but the Yammer improvements that are planned already should also help connect with the on-premises deployments.
Microsoft is clearly putting a lot of eggs in the Yammer basket and in response to customer questions as to whether they should use newsfeed or Yammer for social, Spartaro is quite categorical about it.
Yammer is to become the social layer across Microsoft products and is what he describes as Microsoft’s "big bet" for social. The benefits of the Yammer route are enormous, he says, in that it is easy to use, easy to start, and because it's an online service, easy to update when needed.
However, not everyone want to use multi-tenant cloud services. For those enterprises there is always the SharePoint newsfeed that provides a whole bunch of social capabilities along with SharePoint
There is a key issue here and Spataro hasn’t really resolved it: while he admits that there are some companies that are not happy with multi-tenant cloud services, he may be understating the case a little bit.
While there doesn’t appear to be much research done on the topic so far, there is considerable anecdotal evidence to suggest that quite a lot of companies are not prepared to go that route. While some are just not ready yet -- and we saw last week with Alfresco that it may take some companies as long as 10 years to be ready for the cloud -- some say they will never, ever make the move. What then?
Spataro says that Microsoft is committed to its on-premises deployments and workers, and with the number of SharePoint deployments reaching the levels they are at the moment -- not even talking about future deployments -- not to do so would be a really bad business move. More on this as it happens.