Part 5 - Customer and ISV Takeaways from the SharePoint Conference 2014

Andrew Connell

by Andrew Connell on 5/20/2014

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This is just one entry in a series of articles that cover a keynote presentation I delivered in April 2014 at the SPTechCon conference in San Francisco, CA. The first article in the series below sets the stage and explains what the series is about. All articles in the series are meant to be read in order, but hey… it’s your browser and mouse… click what interests you!

  1. Navigating the New World of SharePoint Online, Office 365 and On-Premises - Introducing the Series
  2. Level Setting and Definitions
  3. Why is Microsoft Moving to Office 365?
  4. Completely Unscientific Survey - Survey on Office 365 and Where Are You?
  5. Customer and ISV Takeaways from the SharePoint Conference 2014
  6. My Thoughts on The Challenges with Customer Acceptance of Office 365
  7. My Thoughts on How to Approach Office 365 & SharePoint On-Premises Today
  8. Office 365 Call to Action - What Should You be Doing?

In the last installment of this series I shared the results of an incredibly unscientific survey that I did on the attendees of my keynote talk on this topic at the SPTechCon conference in San Francisco, April 2014. In this installment I am going to recap some of the things that some analysts saw at the SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas, March 2014.

Rob LaMear, CEO of FPWeb delivered a session at the SharePoint Conference, SPC250 - Tipping Point - OnPrem & Cloud" where he asked people attending the session a few questions and shared his experience in his blog post SharePoint Conference 2014 Recap: On-prem Dominates. This is sort of an extension from the last installment in this series.

How do you Compare to Others?

slide11First question Rob asked his attendees was about their deployment types and what is available to them. The results:

  • 90% were using SharePoint On-Premises deployments
  • 70% of the people in the room can't move to Office 365 or the cloud because of various reasons such as legal or regulations

Interesting numbers... quite interesting so many people were on-prem and simply can't move to Office 365... they have to keep their data on-prem. You hear this story quite a bit with people talking about the cloud. In my experience sometimes it's a safety net that customers use because they don't want to go to the cloud and they just think it isn't for them. However there are many where this is a real blocker. It will be interesting to hear how the various providers, not just Office 365 but also Azure and AWS, address this concern.

Executive Round Table Feedback - Customers & ISV's

Next up Rob attended and engaged in a dialog with other customers of SharePoint and Office 365 at the executive round tables. These were discussions that had a moderator involved. The first discussion to come up was specifically to customers. I found these statistics to be quite interesting.

slide12A full 20% of the customers at the executive round tables said that they were planning to move their entire organization from an on-premises deployment to Office 365... that's huge! What I found even more interesting was that a solid 80% of the customer said they either are currently or planned to use a hybrid solution to test the Office 365 waters and see if it is the right solution for them. Another significant number of people who are showing interest in what's there.

This was tapered a bit from the last question Rob saw come up: 30% of the customers there were frustrated with Microsoft's lack of an on-premises roadmap. This was somewhat answered at the conference as Microsoft did commit to relating another on-premises version of SharePoint in 2015, but beyond that they haven't said anything... but to be fair they haven't in the past talked about two versions down the road.

slide13Another angle to consider is what independent software vendors (ISVs) are thinking. These are the Nintex's, K2's, AvePoint's, Metalogix's... all the companies who add value to the platform. When asked, 70% expressed frustration in not being able to see exactly how Microsoft will help them grow on the SharePoint / Office 365 platform. Don't misunderstand this as "it's Microsoft's responsibility to make sure these companies grow and are healthy giving them something to build on". These companies are saying "with the current direction of SharePoint & Office 365, we aren't sure how we can fit into the model going forward like we have in the past... it isn't clear."

Furthermore, in light of this, a lot of the ISVs are already looking to diversify their offerings. Specifically 33% are looking to extend their offering to other products and services, even cloud services, to the likes of Google, Salesforce, AWS and Box.

Gartner's SPC'14 Takeaways

slide14In addition to FPWeb's Rob LaMear, Craig Roth of Gartner also wrote a post "SharePoint Conference 2014 - The SharePoint Forecast is Cloudy summarizing some of their thoughts that they had from their SharePoint Conference 2014 experience. Roth said that from his discussions with customers and ISVs at the show the big impression he was left with was a consistent mixed message and lack of clarify in where SharePoint is going in the future. Customers just aren't sure even though Microsoft has been trying to explain it (this backs up one of the reasons for why I wanted to pick this topic as my keynote talk at SPTechCon).

One specific point Roth made was that while Microsoft is saying that they want to "lower the friction" of moving to Office 365 and to allow customers to move "at your own pace", this conflicts with the fact that "[Microsoft] aren't committed to another on-premises release after 2015 and improvements will show up earlier and possibly only Office 365". Interesting take.. can't argue much with that as he makes some good points.


From my stance, I think we've likely seen the last on-premises SharePoint release announcement in what's coming in 2015. Microsoft is clearly working to innovate in the cloud and then look to see which features can be ported to an on-premises deployment later. What I hope to see is a good hybrid story for customers who want to, or need to, stay on perm, but somehow make some of the services in the cloud work in a stretched farm like fashion sort of how we currently get with the taxonomy service (Managed Metadata Service), search, business connectivity services (BCS) and others. But the fact remains: if you stay on-premises, you won't get all the latest and greatest stuff... not now and likely not ever.

Topic: Cloud

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