Like the 'Severe Weather Warnings' that have been so frequent this winter, announcements made at SPC14 point us in a general direction, set some conditions, but remain vague about the details we've been waiting for. Last year's conference announced the integration of Yammer into the O365 family, and the promise that Microsoft would learn from the start-ups' iterative development cycle. In that time O365 has launched has taken the market by storm, and new features have been released on a more frequent basis. On the ground, we've seen a huge adoption of O365 as a replacement for on-premise exchange, while Lync and SharePoint are treated as great add-ons. With all these changes I'm going to try to summarize how SPC14 will change SharePoint On-Premise's future.
O365 Iterative Process & Last major version of SharePoint On-Premise
There were many great technological announcements at SPC14. All were announced with the phrase "cloud first", while some were announced as "cloud only". One announcement forecasts the future – "We're committed to another on-premises release of SharePoint Server.." written by Jared Spataro in a Microsoft blog . Using other information as a guide, this means that just like O365 will not be renamed as features are added, a proposed SharePoint 2015 major release will be the last new 'name' and full development cycle that we have been used to since the release of 2007. Instead it seems that Microsoft will bundle features that go to the cloud first, and work on-premise, in future yearly service pack releases.
The Promise of forms integration
If you haven't heard already, SPC14 hosted the funeral procession, and of course wake held at a SharePint, for InfoPath (here's the Microsoft announcement). This wasn't a complete surprise because, SharePoint insiders had seen no changes from 2010 to 2013 versions, and the team itself was disbanded many months prior to the official announcement. Microsoft clearly announced that the future will not be one-size-fits all for forms. Implementing first in the cloud (do you see a trend here), SharePoint forms will be able to be manipulated directly through the browser. The follow-up to the clarity was the promise of forms technology that hasn't fully been built yet. A little more detail can be found in Jennifer Mason's blog on CMSwire .
"Work Like a Network" / Office Graph
Part of the keynote was the reinforcement of the phrase "Work Like a Network" and the introduction of a new technology, brought to us by the same great team that created FAST search, called Oslo. This new tool that can literally display your network of information and people throughout the Office ecosystem is built on Office Graph. What do these developments mean? It seems that Yammer and SharePoint functionalities will be further integrated within the office stack, and some of the most powerful document management, tracking and workflow capabilities will become features enterprise users expect, instead of ones that are created and customized by internal team. Oh, did I mention that this is O365 only to start?
Overall it seems that the SharePoint On-Premise infrastructure, with it's multiple groupings of features, is now being treated like an aging Microsoft operating system (RIP XP) – it will be supported and fixes will be created without many new features. It seems that we're taking a step back and returning to the "Microsoft Office SharePoint Server" of 2007, without the server. I see a breaking up of the infrastructure into pieces over the next 5 years. The good news is "One Microsoft" might actually be able to create the integration points that have been hard to achieve in the past. I hope that there will be new SharePoint APIs that allow for utilization of the amazing content categorization, task management and workflow features that we've grown to rely on over the last seven years.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Portal Solutions O365 Webinar Series
Microsoft Fast Track to O365 Offer – Ends June 30th 2014
COMING SOON - ViewDo Blog Series on SharePoint Social Roadmap