And in Other News… SharePoint is Dead

I find that sometimes, I just lose the joy of writing, so I stop. Sometimes I’m too busy, sometimes I just lose a bit of, for lack of a better word, spirit.

It’s been a few months since I last wrote anything for public consumption. I’d like to talk briefly about what I’ve been doing and then tell you why SharePoint is dying. And, as often times, it is your fault.

Soy, me y mi.

For the previous months, I’ve been busy trying to get to know Costa Rica. I moved here in May, and although we’re quick to adjust, there’s a lot of new things to learn.

Which is awesome; I love learning. In fact, in the previous week, fuimos a una clase de espanol. Which I think means we went to a Spanish class. And I did that without Google translate. We had an awesome teacher, just for Lena and I for a week. Four hours a day, which is quite intensive. I’ve now put Spanish subtitles on Netflix to keep practicing, which would be very effective, except, of course, that I don’t really watch TV.

However, that doesn’t account for all the time since July when I previously wrote anything. I’ve been traveling around the US and a brief trip back to Europe. In the US, I spent time in Detroit helping a team of SharePointers in a big company better understand what is expected of them.

I then went up to Oregon to help a non-profit organization that works to eradicate or at least reduce poverty in a native American tribe. I’ll get back to this later, and I may need your help a bit, but in short, this was and is an awesome group of people that are working as hard as they can to help others get out of dire straits (and no, I don’t mean the band).

I then went back to Detroit to train a group of architects for a week before heading to Amsterdam to speak at a conference.

My wife has been in Norway for two months working on a cultural exchange project with North Korea, and had a bunch of north Korean kids come to Trondheim to do a performance with Norwegian kids.

In short, we’ve been busy. I’m sure you’re all thrilled to hear that.

Hang on… SharePoint Dead?

Ah, yes… I originally wrote about the death of SharePoint 2013 back in May, and since then, I’ve been seeing a lot of fear that SharePoint on-premises is dying a slow and painful death. The argument goes that Microsoft wants to do cloud only and that on-premises installations are not generating enough money.

Why do people think this? Well, there are a lot of circumstantial evidence, but very few real hard facts.

Microsoft famously cancelled the Microsoft Certified Masters programs, or whatever they were called towards the end. These masters were masters of on-premises installations first and foremost, and cancelling that program has been taken as a sign that Microsoft has started a long wind-down of SharePoint on-premises.

There’s been no official announcement about the future of SharePoint on-premises from Redmond. Bill Baer recently wrote a blog article saying:

We remain committed to delivering support and solutions for our customers whether in the cloud or on-premises, through cumulative updates, future service packs and content to ensure that wherever you have SharePoint deployed, behind the firewall or in the cloud, customers will continue to have the support they need to ensure the continued success and benefit of constant innovation.

Of course, there’s nothing here saying there will ever be a SharePoint 2016 or whatever the number will be, only that Microsoft will continue to update SharePoint. Note also that Mr. Baer works in Microsoft marketing, so you should trust him about as far as you can throw him.

All these things point in one direction, though, that SharePoint inside the organizations is dying. Right?

No. You’re an idiot, and should be ashamed of yourself. It is people like you that kill SharePoint on-premises.

Microsoft has given us a new toy (and I use toy with great care and thought) in SharePoint online. However, there’s nothing new there. SharePoint has been able to be hosted for years already. It’s a marketing message first and foremost; buy our stuff using a subscription model because that makes us the richest.

Interestingly, despite Microsoft’s own love for subscriptions, they do not offer a subscription model for their failed App experiment. Subscriptions are the absolute best solution for everyone, except for everyone else, that is. Talk about mixed messaging.

And as sheep, we rush to their support. After all, it’s not like they’ve ever screwed anyone over or told us to run in one direction before, only to slam the door shut when we had run as long as they needed.

The effect of us following their messaging, though, is that our customers start doubting too. Can it really be that the investments we’ve made in SharePoint on-premises has been wasted? Perhaps we really should play it safe (hah!) and just do as Microsoft says.

With the community doubting, our customers, clients, and organizations doubt too. That makes Microsoft even more sure that their on the right path and the push even harder. The result is that SharePoint on-premises may very well die, but only because we’ve stopped recommending it where it makes sense.

Ask yourself this: We’ve had SharePoint online for years. If it was such an awesome idea for everyone, why hasn’t everyone moved already? What changed, except a new message from Redmond, in 2013?

Here’s the cold, hard truth: SharePoint works. Why would you send a perfectly working car to the mechanic? You may want to get a tune-up every now and then, but you don’t change your working car to a truck, just in case it works too.

For some people, cars simply don’t work. In those cases, yeah, you get something else; a bike, a plane, walking, a taxi, or whatever works for you. However, the fact that others ride to bike in the morning doesn’t mean everyone else should ride a bike too. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s a death trap that will cost you far more than you ever thought possible.

So yeah, SharePoint online has a place; it’s just not as a replacement for SharePoint on-premises anymore today than it was two or five years ago.

And no, SharePoint on-premises isn’t dead.

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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.

12 thoughts on “And in Other News… SharePoint is Dead”

  1. Hmm so what you’re suggesting is that the doubt induced in the minds of SharePoint consultants by positioning messages of Office 365, might be enough to effect the death of On-Prem? Can’t say I disagree with the logic but I wonder how effective it will be to continue advising clients to stay away from the cloud. If anything, O365 has made it easier to convince customers to take the plunge where they’ve had an irrational fear of the cloud.

  2. I am pretty sure that SharePoint is not going anywhere. It was started as a collaboration platform but never gained real success among users as a collaboration platform. Yes, many organizations adopted it because they are bound to Microsoft solutions and Microsoft was pushing hard to get huge user base for SharePoint, giving WSS for free in Windows Server offering in the first place.

    Once on IBM Connect they called SharePoint a “document coffin”. Although I do not completely agree, I for sure partially agree with this statement. Many companies have document libraries and team sites but what do they really gain? Just another place to put their Word and Excel documents into. It is online, might be a bit more structured and have version control but this is it. There’s no way for them to have real teamwork on these documents. Users cannot _collaborate_ on it. Yes, they are _sharing_ content but not working on it together.

    SharePoint went through many strange design decisions. Remember WebParts, where are they now? Remember SharePoint Designer was and what is has become. SharePoint 2010 was declared to be full of “social” features but we barely recognize any of those. Acquisition of Yammer just showed that Microsoft realize they are loosing enterprise social platform battle to Jive and IBM Connections and actually Yammer did not help very much there.

    1. “The stories of the death of webparts are greatly exaggerated”
      SharePoint works and there’s no denying that. Sometimes developers just don’t get it and hence, the failures that you hear about.
      Since 2007, we developed a three web parts framework that covers input, process and output to fill the gaps within SharePoint. Our clients having been using those web parts to build countless business critical solutions with that. Not only are they faster, their solutions are also up-gradable, from SP2007 to SP2010 and now SP2013. Soon, these apps with run on O365.
      This year, a government agency created their integrated budget, program and project management system that tracks their entire budget, links it to outcomes, distributes to programs and tracks every penny spend on the projects within. All of which was built, without a single line of code using only three web parts ! It can be done, you just need to build it smarter 🙂

  3. I am inclined to agree with Rico, these features like WebParts didn’t go anywhere. With every version of SharePoint there is new stuff, and until its at least one version old you can’t be sure if it will take off like wild fire, change radically, or fade away into obscurity. However, SharePoint as a platform for solving problems is extremely successful.

    About the only way I could see them killing it off is if it collapses under its own weight. Developers struggle to adapt and learn new ways of doing things. Features keep getting added, and with that there’s increasing complexity. If it gets complex enough, then eventually somebody will come along and say “What does SharePoint do well that we can imitate but build on the latest tech? Forget all that deadweight.”

    It’s possible that developers would run toward that, but just as likely not. It’s a pretty tall order to give you everything you can get from SharePoint without all the SP related bull crap. Chandler wanted to do it (Dreaming in Code) and failed. Heck, I even wanted to do it once. I just don’t see it happening – but if it did, I think it will surprise everyone… and nobody.

    Oh, and thanks for another great read, Bjorn!

  4. There’s no point in making any predictions right now – we don’t even know who the CEO of Microsoft is going to be in a year. Who that person is, and what their passions are, will make all the difference in Microsoft’s new direction. Bill Gates could come back and we’d see a renewed investment in extensible desktop software. Microsoft could steal someone from Google and we’d see the desktop virtually abandoned for the cloud. If Ray Ozzie were appointed CEO then all software would be custom-built toolkits that replicate from desktop to desktop…

    The best thing to do is to coast on MSFT right now – shore up your fundamentals, but focus on non-Microsoft technology growth. Learn the business side of collaboration, business intelligence, content management, etc.

  5. I have to agree. I have been using SharePoint from the start and customer buy-in is incredibly difficult. Possibly due to the fact it has a lot of issues – still – after all this time. I think Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot by letting Bulmer run it for as long as he has. He’s a Marketing Guy who really has not bothered looking at the concerns of developers. Now I know I’m going to sound old school here, but development is now from my point of view taking far too long then if you go back 10 years. OK. So we have more bells and whistles, but what about the customer, what do they want. Too many developers (of which I am one) say it’s exciting the new technologies – of course it is, but is this economically viable for a company to invest in these systems. I have developed InfoPath Forms, Apps, Web Parts etc and I have to say there is issue after issue and sometimes they can take days sometimes even weeks to fix. It used to be hours. I’m starting to bet on Google destroying Microsoft in the future as if Microsoft is heading to JUST JavaScript/Jquery for SharePoint development, then what is their niche.

  6. is it possible to install share point 2010 in windows7 professional…
    it is a 64 bit operating system and i got my c drive with 70gb space
    thanks in advance….

    1. Possible? Yes. Good idea? No. Almost as good idea as pulling out your own teeth to avoid eating too much.

      Get a VM; it really has been the only way to do SharePoint (note the spelling) for the past eight or so years.

      .b

  7. Pingback: Sharepoint-Boss Teper bestätigt: “Neben Office 365 wird es weiterhin Sharepoint Server geben” | Commanditen

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