4 Reasons why SharePoint is Dying

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.

Microsoft seems to think that because you can now send JavaScript requests to SharePoint, every JavaScript developer is now a SharePoint developer, which is roughly the same as saying that because Word supports writing, everyone who ever learned to write is a Word user.

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.

Sure, there’s the App model, which isn’t particularly innovative considering it’s just going back to putting HTML pages somewhere and sending JavaScript requests to a web service. That stopped being innovative around the turn of the century.

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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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

31 thoughts on “4 Reasons why SharePoint is Dying”

  1. I don’t get it…. Why are you complaining about Jeff Teper leaving SharePoint Team, when he was the one that significantly influenced most of the SharePoint-Mess you’re mentioning (and I totally agree on your other points)?

    Perhaps it’s just me, but when I see what went wrong since SPv14, I really don’t mind a Change in product Management…

  2. SharePoint isn’t dying, SharePoint on premises is dying. And the SharePoint developers with it. Unless you want to stick with legacy for the next 10 years.

    1. Funny… That’s exactly the motivation Microsoft used five to eight years ago to convince people to migrate legacy apps to SharePoint…

      I guess history is easily forgotten.

  3. You are only looking at SharePoint from a on-prem perspective and are getting frustrated.

    If you look at Office 365 the new APIs available can never ever be done in SP2007 (Oslo, Yammer). So your point about lack of innovation is not true. The Office 365 APIs are awesome and were never there in any version of SharePoint.

    The app model is not a failure. it let’s you write code in a way that does not prevent SharePoint from being upgraded.

    The new paradigms of SQL Azure tables and OneDrive will replace list and libraries of SharePoint and that is also a good thing because the cloud technologies do not have a limitation of 2000 items like the SP List.

    All in all … Office 365 is the new SharePoint and it has very good API and is damn innovative, scalable and web standards driven.

    BUT, if you are one of those unfortunate souls whose company is resisting the cloud… then I think you should either build a career in Drupal 🙂 or Just find another place to work on the cloud.

    1. > If you look at Office 365 the new APIs available can never ever be done in SP2007 (Oslo, Yammer).

      Haha, I wrote my first Yammer integration with SharePoint in 2010. Granted, it was part of the 2010 platform but nothing that couldn’t be done in 2007. And although I know what you mean, I actually did that in Oslo. Skøyen, to be exact.

      > The app model is not a failure. it let’s you write code in a way that does not prevent SharePoint from being upgraded.

      Uhm… You don’t know how to write upgradable code for non-App SharePoint? Wow, you’re making bold statements based on an admitted lack of knowledge.

      Remember, people, the fact that you don’t know how to do something doesn’t make it impossible.

      But you’re right, and arguing my point. For what SharePoint is being used now, there are far better alternatives so SharePoint is dying. And yes, like I said, you should pack your bags and leave.

      .b

      1. > Remember, people, the fact that you don’t know how to do something doesn’t make it impossible.

        Nothing is impossible… however in sp2007, 2010 it was very easy to customize SharePoint is a way which scrws up the upgrade process.

        The apps model solves the BIGGEST issue with SP customization in a very web centric way.

        Also, when I said Oslo… I meant the new API which microsoft showed in SP2014 conf. you couldn’t have used that in 2010 because its available only on 365.

        1. > Nothing is impossible… however in sp2007, 2010 it was very easy to customize SharePoint is a way which scrws up the upgrade process.

          It is still easy. Idiots who don’t know what they’re doing can screw up anything easily. Again, the fact that you don’t know how to do something doesn’t make it impossible. Or even difficult.

          > The apps model solves the BIGGEST issue with SP customization in a very web centric way.

          No, it doesn’t. The biggest problem with SP customizations is that people think development is supposed to be easy and start doing it without knowing how to tie their own shoelaces.

          And I know what you mean by Oslo which is why I said that “I know what you mean”.

          .b

  4. Significant rewrite of FAST ESP into a native one for SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2013 workflows, App model

    Too fast
    Some of us are still figuring our heads around Infopath deprecation, Web Analytics out the window, FQL deprecation, concept search is gone, Silverlight gone etc

    Too slow
    Where’s the SignalR, Redis caching, OWA API access, Docusign give me now now now

  5. You are one pessimistic guy Bjørn 🙂 Since the launch of 2013 we have never had so many SharePoint opportunities. Old customers upgrading and new ones wanting to do SharePoint. And all of them are aware of the “on-perm” is dead debate.

    We see customers want to do SPO, but also on-perm with hybrid flirtations. Also looking at hired ads the demand for skilled SP consultants is not declining.

    I cannot predict the future but for my nearsighted future SP is alive and kicking on ground and in the cloud. We get new fun projects which can be solved by the features SP gives, and sometimes we mix it up with Azure services.

    I won’t get into what search can do in 2013, but it’s cool once you crack the way it works.

    Long live SharePoint and the O365 space, which is vast! 🙂

    1. Strangely, I see the exact opposite as a solutions architect. As before, customers don’t care about SharePoint; they care about getting stuff done. In the past, I could safely say that SharePoint did offer a unique and competitive approach. Now, SharePoint is just one in a long list of possible candidates, and sadly, it’s dropping down that list at a rapid pace.

      I also see the heroes of the community pack up and leave. I see huge vendors look for alternative approaches to supporting other platforms instead (not in addition).

      SPO isn’t competitive. Most of it, you can do with free and readily available platforms that innovate at a pace that would make Microsoft look like it’s sleeping.

      The O365 space may vast but its filled with alternatives that are faster, more stable, more innovative, cheaper, and doesn’t have the stench of doom on them.

  6. I agree with much of what Bjørn is saying. The issue I have is that Microsoft are forcing an unnatural evolution of the information systems we use. Microsoft have decided that Cloud is In and On-Premise is Out – that is the end goal and make no mistake about it. They want to dominate the Cloud marketplace much as they have done in the PC/Networking arena.

    Back then I viewed Microsoft as a stabilising force bringing order to the chaos in PC systems and software. Now I see them hatcheting those very systems, their partners and customers. It is a bloodbath.

    The way they are going about it is unnatural. They are attempting to bypass the in-house IT (the experts for their business) and seduce end-users. Recent Microsoft messages have gone along the lines of “in house IT are dinosaurs preventing the business from moving on and we will save you money.”

    From this I deduce that there is a lot of opposition from internal IT and Microsoft are getting so desperate they are trying to cut them out of the loop. Many billions of dollars are at stake. Microsoft have bet the farm on this.

    So I expect the Microsoft cloud to be a major player moving forwards but don’t make the mistake of thinking this is good. I find it very disquieting that Microsoft are powerful enough (or think they are) to ignore the rules of evolution. Where better products succeed and weaker ones perish.

    SharePoint 2013 has been very disappointing to me and a lost opportunity to build on SharePoint 2010. I do not see my clients demanding social. They want better workflow tools, better forms handling so that they can improve efficiency.

    Has anyone else noticed the increasing number of problems arising from service packs? SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013 was not fit for release and SP1 has its issues. Product quality is dropping like a stone while Microsoft chases the greener grass next door.

    I used to be a massive supporter of Microsoft – not any more.

  7. Hello from HarePoint (www.harepoint.com). We are developers of some “boxed” software for SharePoint. The real problem that SharePoint code is cost like gold due to very short life cycle. To keep desktop software modern, you should make small cosmetic changes every 3 years. To keep SharePoint software work, you must re-write half of code every 3 years and build a special version for new platform. And support 2, 3 and now, with Office 365, four different versions.

    Microsoft should slow down. Otherwise they lose developers as well as clients. I know developer companies who have already flew out from the SharePoint market. Because it is very expensive market in development, in support, in promotion. I don’t know details, but why Nintex terminate Analytics product line?

    But I think that the noise about Office365 will end soon. Because for Microsoft is very typical the pushing of new technology about 1-2 years and then switch to pushing of another new techmnology. And I expect, than 80% of enterprises and mid-size companies are will stay at on-prem. Because they also count their costs, see that SharePoint is very expensive, and will wait for technology with the longer life cycle of the code. SharePoint on-prem will live, as well as Fortran 😉

    1. I always encourage a component based approach. The underlying code does not need to change. In fact, if you take a similar approach that I do with SP SIN and the SP SIN Store, you have the same code base for all versions, including future versions.

      Even if the underlying technology changes (which I doubt), you can still abstract the interaction with those components to protect yourself.

      It’s not difficult. I’ve even made public the sources so you can explore suggestions on how. Especially for a company like yours, this should be interesting.

  8. Speaking as an on-premise SharePoint admin, I am worried the author may be right. SharePoint 2013 is an administrative nightmare. Stuff breaks seemingly at random and the software gives you no clue except for the option to sift through 50Gb of log files. It often takes hours to find and fix what looks to your IT Manager like a simple problem that any dummy should be able to find in a few minutes. So you have a product which has a very steep learning curve, seems like a totally new product with each iteration, breaks randomly with very little information, forces you to waste hours debugging and researching and still makes you look like a minimum-wage rookie at the end of it all. I have been a SharePoint admin for 5 years, passed the 2007 and 2010 admin tests without any trouble and just scored a 443 on the Core Solutions cert exam (after completing the MOC 20331B) – utter fail, which means essentially that my 5-year time investment with SharePoint doesn’t mean jack.

    I would love for ANY excuse to get away from SharePoint administration – a total dead-end and time-suck.

  9. I have designed and developed SP solutions at professional level in all versions since 2003. I have developed significant solutions as server side farm deployments and also many solutions using the client object model in Silverlight and JQuery using some excellent libaries such as SPService. I quite like the new App Model but we need to bear in mind its purpose is to deliver light weight single scope applications rather than fully fledged feature rich solutions as we do for farm deployments.

    Sandboxed deployments are still available of course and for a fully fledged silverlight solution its a great option and doesn’t require the farm reset that a farm solution does.

    i am signed up to Office 365 and have my online SharePoint site collections setup alongwith a dev site to assist with developing apps. The Office 365 offering has come along way over the lastfew years and at version 2013 I’m happy to be fully engaged.

    i have developed a full meeting mangagement system called MeetingPoint and along with another live product, ProjectPoint, I would like to move them both over to a sandboxed solution under 2013.

    So to conclude, i understand the concerns but I can see this new model being with us for a long time to come so I plan to be as involved and engaged as Ihave been since the beginning.

    Happy coding

  10. Bullocks. Might as well call the end of Windows because Balmer left or call Xbox is dead because Whitten moved on. People changing positions has the same correlation as marmalade and sunshine. Sure, it takes sun to grow oranges but it doesn’t mean marmalade makes the sun shine.

    Microsoft needs a web platform for developers, SharePoint is just that… A Platform. Until I see something different coming down the pipeline I have to call shenanigans.

    1. > Microsoft needs a web platform for developers, SharePoint is just that…

      You’re right, they need one. Which is why they already have plenty of them, as does a lot of other companies.

      SharePoint isn’t a web platform, however. It is a business application platform. It is a database and a pretty awesome one at that, but it is a specialized database with a very specific purpose. Now, Microsoft is trying to make it compete in the generalized market and that’s where it sucks.

      http://blog.furuknap.net/if-you-learn-only-one-thing-about-sharepoint

      > Might as well call the end of Windows because Balmer left

      Actually, it would be closer calling Windows 8 a disaster which lead to Sinofsky leaving.

      .b

      1. I almost walked away but I can’t….

        You’re flatly wrong. It is more closely aligned with the definition of the word platform than the definition of a database. Unless you’re calling all systems that lack hierarchical and relation capabilities databases. If this is the case I have a Text document and a JPEG you’re welcome to use on your next database project.

        What SharePoint does have is Search, Security, Document Management, Workflows, an App Model and a WYSIWIG Editor. It has BI which aids in exposing data via REST, It is Identity Management, It is multi tenant, loosely conforms to the ASP.NET development paradigm. It is more of a platform than a database.

        I’ll resist the urge to quote myself as that is me backing my opinion with my opinion.

        What is true, I’ll say it again. It’s not dead until they(MS) start shipping a competitive product.

        1. > I’ll resist the urge to quote myself as that is me backing my opinion with my opinion.
          > What is true, I’ll say it again. It’s not dead until they(MS) start shipping a competitive product.

          You were saying that you weren’t going to back your own opinion with your own opinion?

          Regardless, I’ll leave to others to judge your understanding of what a database is or your ability to use logical reasoning, but if nothing else, you seem to confuse the term “utilizing a database” and “being a database” when you show examples of utilizing databases to argue why SharePoint is no database at its core.

          .b

        2. Actually, let me go into a bit more detail.

          > What SharePoint does have is Search

          …which you use to find database records,

          > Security,

          which queries database records to find out if you have access to other database records,

          > Document Management,

          which you should realize are just management of database records, exactly the same as any list item,

          > Workflows,

          which run only in the context of database records,

          > an App Model

          which you can use solely to CRUD database records,

          > and a WYSIWIG Editor

          which you use to edit the content of, guess what, database records.

          > It has BI which aids in exposing data via REST

          exposing data which, I don’t know, would be database records?

          > It is Identity Management

          No, it isn’t.

          > It is multi tenant

          No, it isn’t, unless you’re stupid or choose one particular hosting provider

          > loosely conforms to the ASP.NET development paradigm

          No, it doesn’t. SharePoint has one ASP.NET frontend, but that’s like saying that Google conforms to the ASP.NET development paradigm because I can use ASP.NET to query Google search results.

          > It is more of a platform than a database.

          You seem to confuse terms easily. Most platforms are built on top of some data store. There’s no conflict in this. It’s not a ‘more than’ or ‘less than’ situation, it is a ‘both’ situation.

          The fact that someone can build a game on top of SQL Server doesn’t mean SQL Server is now a game, nor that the game isn’t built on a database because it uses WASD to control movement of a sprite on screen.

          .b

          1. This is utterly stupid… as you would call a OData service a database…
            SharePoint isn’t a database. It doesn’t store data, MSSQL does.

  11. Hi,

    Interesting points for sure. SharePoint is like a Swiss Army Knife, does just about everything. Some very well and some not. I wouldnt eat soup with a Swiss Army Knife but might use it for other tasks.

    Jeff probably needed a change, good for him to move on and do something else…was probably bored.

    This industry is always changing, things come and go, change….makes it interesting.

    Cheers!

  12. I may be a little biased here as a SharePoint Analyst but from my observations Microsoft will continue to develop on premise SharePoint as long as market demand is there. Corporations have made large investments into the technology to meet critical and operational needs.

    Furthermore organizations used to develop their own desktop applications but today’s defacto choice is to create browser based apps whenever possible. If you coupling that with Windows based tablets such as the surface as a laptop replacement than one will know that most organizations will have more devices than laptops within the next 5 years, hence placing an added premium on browser based apps.

    To conclude due to the investment, extensibility, familiarity, and continuous proliferation of SharePoint amongst organizations the trend will continue towards developing collaborative solutions… For the record there is no better organization than Microsoft at maintaining their strangle hold on the market and I do not see any reason for that to change anytime soon.

    p.s. Jeff has returned!

  13. Sharepoint will be ok if you want to use as is out of box. But customisaion is awfully hard compared to any modern softwares.

    It is a good product if someone wants show off his hard learnt skills.
    Now a days hard leant knowledge will be useless within seconds in IT sector. Who knows MS will announce SP is discontinued from next year?

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