Two key trends kept popping up at the Microsoft SharePoint
Conference 2014 (SPC 2014): first, hybrid cloud, consisting of a mixture of
Office 365 (O365) plus on-premises SharePoint solutions; and second, the
beginnings of some innovative and practical uses for enterprise social
technologies. Of course, these weren’t the only trends (for example, see my
post on Microsoft’s
emphasis on supporting all platforms). But as I spoke with Microsoft and
many of the SPC 2014’s 200 or so exhibitors, just about everyone had something
to say about hybrid and enterprise social.
Hybrid: O365 and
SharePoint on Premises
On the exhibit floor the emphasis on hybrid was noticeable.
Julie Auletta, a director at Bamboo Solutions, noted, “At the last SharePoint
show, all the talk was Office 365 and the cloud. This year, I get the sense
that Microsoft is redirecting. The keynote talked a lot about hybrid solutions,
and Jared [Spataro, Microsoft general manager of Enterprise Social] made a
point that a lot of feedback from the last show requested sessions other than
This year, both Microsoft and its partners recognized that
hybrid solutions will be the business reality for several years. Every
exhibitor I talked with was at least testing the waters with O365 solutions,
but they also acknowledged that many customers are still looking for
on-premises SharePoint tools and solutions, including help with migration to
SharePoint Server 2013.
To address those customers’ needs, Microsoft announced that
it is building hybrid capabilities into SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1
(SP1) on premises. (See the
Microsoft SharePoint team blog for details.) With SP1, on-premises
SharePoint 2013 now gains the ability to seamlessly use Microsoft OneDrive for
Business and Yammer, bridging on-premises and cloud. Hybrid capabilities also
include expanded search and line-of-business application access.
The hybrid theme extended into Microsoft announcements about
advances in enterprise social, which span all the Office applications and begin
to unify the experience across them, both on-premises and in the cloud. For
example, some cool new functionality extends Yammer’s Group concept to unite
Exchange, Lync, and SharePoint lists and groups.
Bringing together disparate sources of information about the
business and its people is also reflected in the new Office Graph
functionality, which was described as being like Power BI combined with Search
focused on social connections and conversations. It lets you find people and
content and make sense of what you find. The Office Graph is a new spin on
Yammer’s Enterprise Graph, which maps relationships among people in your
network and what they share in social media. Office Graph applies that concept
The first application based on the Office Graph is codenamed
Oslo. This app helps you find people and information across your organization so
that you can do useful things—like find that document you know you saw in
email—or was it on SharePoint? And who was it that told you about it?
Approximately 80 percent of enterprises are using some sort
of enterprise social solution, according to an educated estimate I heard at the
conference. Jared Spataro’s blog
cites a figure of “more than 400,000 companies worldwide [that] are already
using Yammer.” I’m skeptical about what such figures really mean because I
can’t imagine that many enterprises are actually taking great strategic
business advantage of enterprise social—yet.
However, with Office Graph and Oslo, Microsoft is doing some
impressive and truly innovative work in this space. I can really see how Oslo
and future apps (by third-parties, as well as Microsoft) could provide ways to
make life at work easier. Take the problem of onboarding a new employee. You
could build an app on Oslo that would map all the relationships a new person
would need to know about, as well as the content that person would need in
order to get up to speed on the team and the work.
In the past year, Microsoft has moved from pushing customers
to the cloud and is now acknowledging that those customers can benefit from the
innovation the cloud brings, even while they’re still using on-premises software.
For Microsoft, that change is pragmatic—the company can’t afford to alienate
its customers that are still using on-premises software. But acknowledging the
reality of hybrid is also driving innovative thinking like that reflected in
Office Graph and Oslo.
SharePoint is at the center of all these
changes, and both Microsoft and its partners are focused on serving the
SharePoint community. Watch for my reports on the exhibitors at the conference
when we launch www.ITUnity.com in the