Seriously, is that cool or what? Last week, I was led to an article on Information Week’s site that called Microsoft’s Office Web Apps for iPad a “Game Changer”. I don’t know about that, I see it more like the umpire yelling “Play Ball!” Up until now, I have been thinking that, if I might continue the baseball metaphor a bit longer, the Office-iPad game was under a rain delay and in danger of being postponed until the end of the season. What does this mean for SharePoint, for Cloud and for proponents of BYOD? I think it means good things for everyone.
I’ll take those issues a little out of order, starting with Cloud. There are two kinds of questions concerning the cloud: the picky little issue type questions and the broad implementation questions. These are offered by two camps: the people who are afraid of or opposed to the cloud, and the people who realize that the cloud is in their future. I can talk about this, because I am in both camps. Whaaaat? Really, the cloud still scares me and I still worry that our company’s small size leaves us vulnerable to being swept into the gutter while large companies cruise the cloud highway. The benefits of the cloud, scalability, cost savings, ubiquitous access don’t apply to me. We are small, I can buy all the storage I need, and most everything we need to be available online can be made available through technology we already own. That said, the cloud is already here. We have services running in the cloud (backup, filtering, expense tracking) and we are considering every opportunity that comes our way – that’s the new normal. The big implementation issue affecting us is what cloud should we support for off-premises storage? Some solutions (apps) come married to DropBox, some support Box, some iCloud, some Amazon, the list goes on and someone is going to ask me to choose. Well, it may not be the best, but SkyDrive is a nice deal for a lot of reasons. Most importantly, it can be connected easily to Outlook, and we know that the connections will get stronger over time.
The impact on SharePoint is tied to the impact on BYOD or, in my case, TDYP (the device you prefer). I like the second acronym, because I am the one providing those devices in many cases, but the hardware isn’t really my choice. We had to react to a groundswell of people who clearly wanted iPhones and iPads, even if they had to buy them. We took the high ground and agreed to subsidize iPhones and provide iPads because that approach solves more problems than it creates. One problem it created “how do I work with Office documents while on the road or while in my family room”, has just been solved by Microsoft. In this case, I think that the web apps may be a game changer, for Microsoft, not for me. With this change of heart, Microsoft has moved from being an obstacle to a solution provider, from an object of scorn to a partner in business. I won’t be surprised to see someone come along and knock Apple out of the lead in the mobile device race. That isn’t important; these devices get changed out faster than pitchers in an extra-inning game. What is important is continuity – Microsoft’s recent decision means that I can plan a future of solutions using Office, riding on SharePoint and I don’t have to worry about hardware…as much.#iphone #BYOD #iPad #Office #SharePoint #WebApps #iOS