I’m afraid it has come to this. SharePoint is dying. It used to be a great platform with awesome promise but somehow, it’s now starting to put its affairs in order and preparing for the inevitable end.
I’m here to tell you why, and sadly that there’s nothing you or I can do about it. It’s time to pack up your stuff and move on because the last final gasps of air are about to happen and that’s rarely a nice experience.
1. The App Model
So, let’s kick it off with the App model. Never really made it, for some very obvious reasons.
I recently saw a video with Scott Hanselman where he was taught that now everyone who knows anything about web development is also a SharePoint developer because SharePoint is now just a provider of data accessible through OData, REST, and all those other fancy buzzwords.
But tell me, why would you want to start developing for SharePoint if all you need is a data store? I mean, if SAP came out and said “Sure, we have REST APIs now” would you stop what you’re doing and run over there?
Of course you wouldn’t! And neither would any PHP or HTML developer want to develop on SharePoint. There simply isn’t any point in using SharePoint for them; they already have far superior frameworks and platforms for storing data. Even Microsoft own services like Azure are far superior to anything SharePoint can offer as a pure data store.
If you want to appeal to someone, you need to offer them something better than what they currently have. SharePoint, as a backend, isn’t that, to anyone. Not even to existing SharePoint users.
The App model has failed and it took a lot of the development story of SharePoint with it.
2. Jeff Teper Left
I’m sure you have all heard the news by now, but Jeff Teper, my new superhero in Redmond, has been reassigned. I’m sure it’s a coincidence that his move happens literally months after I publicly declared by admiration of his new attitude.
There’s a reason, though, that Jeff was fired (or promoted, which in corporate America is much the same thing).
Jeff made SharePoint. He was there from the very beginning and stuck with it until the bitter end. Nobody knows SharePoint better than him. He orchestrated everything, including the recent push for the online thing they do these days.
I think Jeff was too focused on SharePoint as opposed to hanging with the cool kids. Think about it. It doesn’t make sense to fire or ‘promote’ someone who has massive success in what they do. If the recent shift in SharePoint was the success that Microsoft wants us to think, why wouldn’t the guy that made that happen still be around?
Some things that Jeff has said has left me to believe he wasn’t as convinced about the Office365 thing as the community herd is. I may be just overly sensitive to these things, but I suspect Jeff left because he doesn’t think there’s the same future in SharePoint anymore.
3. Lack of Innovation
SharePoint 2013 is a huge yawn. Really.
Sure, there are plenty of bells and whistles, but after you’ve seen through the makeup, it lacks any innovation that would make it last for another ten years.
There still isn’t anything in SharePoint 2013 that I cannot accomplish in SharePoint 2007. Every thing that’s hailed as innovation is really just moving a few pieces of furniture around and claim that you have a new house.
There are a few new apps (not Apps) that ship out of the box, but nothing that would warrant the massive investment it would be for a customer of any size to upgrade. Most of the other innovation happens on other platforms like Office365 and Yammer.
SharePoint 2013 is just a slower version of SharePoint 2010 and the other differences are mostly cosmetic. Gone are the days when you had innovation like web parts, or workflow, or content types, or the solution framework, or delegate controls, or the event engine. These features made and make SharePoint unique, but guess what; they all happened almost 10 years ago.
4. Too Slow but Too Fast
In a twist of irony, Microsoft’s release strategy is both too slow and too fast.
Microsoft has decided to release a new version of SharePoint at around the same release cycle they’ve had until now, meaning a new major release around every three years. We’re all holding our breaths for SharePoint 2016.
That’s not quick enough for Microsoft to stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest that they seem to want to do. It’s not fast enough to hang with the cool kids. By the time you get those new pumps, they are already out of fashion and everyone uses moon boots, and by the time you’ve nagged enough to get your parents to buy some genuine Tecnicas, everyone uses sneakers.
On the flip side, however, your parents, who pay the bills, think the changing trends you try to uphold are changing way to fast. They don’t have time to catch up. You may think they’re awfully old fashioned, but they do pay the bills and they would like to make sure they get some value from the shoes they buy.
Similarly, organizations do not care about what the latest and greatest is. They have been burned, like your parents, on investing in the latest and greatest just a few years ago on the promise that this would be the investments they would truly have for decades to come.
To you, the speed of evolution may feel too slow because you can’t have the latest and greatest all the time. To those that pay the bills, the pace of change is too fast to yield any reasonable value. Microsoft is too slow to adopt new changes in technology but too fast to get their customers to invest in long term solutions.
What Can We Do?
Sadly, with the state of affairs, there really isn’t anything you or I can do, not even as a community. We’ve been forced or at least highly encouraged to move away from the tried and true methods of development; we’ve lost the guy that made SharePoint everything it is; we’ve been left without major innovation so that instead we can get a mediocre data service…
The only thing we, as a community can do, is stop listening to idiots. Stop listening to those that promises us what a great future InfoPath has; how awful it is to use managed code; how everything will happen in the cloud.
The only glimmer of hope came from something Jeff Teper said a couple of months ago (my emphasis).
“We’ll listen, learn and adapt to customers, partners and what is going on the market for the scope and timing of the next release but if you asked us today, we’d expect our general approach (cloud first/best, solid server upgrade) would stay consistent change in that timeframe.”
Perhaps that listening can turn out to be important, even though Jeff is now gone. Perhaps we, as a community, can tell Microsoft that we want SharePoint’s strengths rather than another competitor to hosted MySQL, Amazon RDS, or SQL Azure.
Or maybe it’s just my opinion… What do you think?
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