Conference Notes

Using SharePoint 2010 as an Enterprise Application Platform

Owen Allen, the VP of Solutions at Pingar is speaking at the SharePoint User Group in Christchurch tonight on using SharePoint 2010 as an enterprise application platform. Pingar has some of its developers in Auckland, so Owen is here for discussions with the team. He’s seeing New Zealand as part of a tour of the different SharePoint user groups. Before joining Pingar, Owen had 8 years at Microsoft.

Key points:
– Planning for SharePoint is very important. Setting the foundation right for SharePoint is essential.
– You will build SharePoint twice. Build the first time on paper, otherwise you will waste a lot of time and money on hardware and software.
– … Designing it first on paper lays the foundation for much greater success.
– … SharePoint is both a platform and an application. We need to understand where to use it best in each area.
– … It’s really hard to sell SharePoint if it is just a platform. You need to demonstrate the default web sites (team sites, etc.) as applications that can be used immediately.
– SharePoint as an application platform – you can do a whole lot of things with it.

– Why the need for a platform?
– … three actors – the business user, the application development team, the operations team.
– … each of these have a different view about what SharePoint should be. Ideally all three groups should work together, but often they don’t.
– … as the speed of business ramps up, the cycle time of decision-implementation gets shorter. Somehow need to break the paradox between the empowerment desired by business users, and the control demanded by the operations team.
– … starting point – what can we deliver directly from SharePoint, with SharePoint capabilities? Where do we need to go out to third-party offerings, or customized?
– … someone needs to help with translating business needs into SharePoint terminology.
– … within 2 years of releasing SharePoint 2010, Microsoft claimed that 50% of its customers had migrated across to SharePoint 2010. This is a fast uptake.
– … how are SharePoint applications different from those built on alternative platforms?
– … … Owen sees three things – people-centric, collaborative, and composite.
– … … for SharePoint Composites – no-code collaborative solutions, unlocking the value of enterprise data, and maintaining control over end user solutions.
– … … SharePoint applications draw on a range of out-of-the-box capabilities, that aggregate to a set of applications, that deal with end-user / departmental requirements.
– … key message – there are safe ways to extend SharePoint (some are simple, and some are complex)

– how partners work with SharePoint:
– … some “connect” an external product to the platform, for putting information in, or drawing information out.
– … other partners “extend” SharePoint – adding new capabilities that weren’t there before.
– … still others “build on” SharePoint – to build an application based on SharePoint, but SharePoint is hidden in the background.
– … partners need to stay agile as Microsoft extends SharePoint into new areas. Microsoft usually gives a heads-up about what they see as foundational to SharePoint, and what is extra / supplemental.

After being asked what Pingar offers, Owen provided a quick demonstration of the automated metadata extraction capabilities of the Pingar offering, both for SharePoint specifically, and as a more general web service.