Firstly a disclaimer. I am not a SharePoint Professional. Dynamics CRM is my pitch so I have no deep knowledge or axe to grind on this subject.
This post was prompted by a very interesting discussion over on Marc Anderson’s Blog entitled SharePoint Is Going Away – Another County Heard From.
Now Marc IS a SharePoint Pro and an MVP to boot so I respect and largely agree with his opinion.
In Marc’s post he identifies that there will come a point, either suddenly or gradually, that SharePoint as a product will come to a natural end of life. He identifies that there are a whole range of issues and questions about how the SharePoint brand will evolve.
I want to just add my perception (and only mine) to the discussion.
A a pre-sales consultant I have a lot of conversations with clients, not just about Dynamics CRM but about the wider Microsoft “Stack”. When it comes to SharePoint the overriding question is “but what is it?”
SharePoint has grown from fairly simple roots to now encompass:
- Document Management
- Records Management
- List management
- Social Media
- Web Content Management
- BI Delivery
- Data Aggregation
- Digital Rights Management
- Development Portals
- Project Portals
And probably a dozen or more besides.
The problem this causes is that in response to the question “What is it” the only answer is “It Depends” or even worse “What do you want it to be?”. This is NOT a value proposition that can be easily taken into a business.
As SharePoint has grown its feature set and swallowed up other technologies it has become so big that it is no longer possible to define what the technology does in a business focused manner.
So my take on where SharePoint will morph to is that it will fade into the background as a brand at Microsoft to be replaced by a set of Modular “Products” that will sit on the foundation of what is now SharePoint.
We will move to a place where there will be a “BI Portal for SharePoint Foundation”, “Document Management for SharePoint Foundation” etc. This will allow Microsoft to then segment their market based on the number and type of modules available and the price of each module.. E.g. Free = 4 Modules, Pro=8 Modules, Enterprise = Unlimited.
The key difference is that businesses can be presented with a specific module with specific functionality to solve a specific business need.
I know that this is how many of the successful SharePoint consultancies have achieved their success but from the Microsoft Point of View this approach allows them to extend their penetration into the partner ecosystem and continue to drive the take up of the underlying foundation which is tied to the wider Windows “stack” and that is their core goal.