Belated SharePoint Conference (SPC 2012) Review

By Mike Alsup posted 12-07-2012 20:43


Your roving analyst attended the SharePoint Conference in Vegas a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving and is finally filing this report from the perspective of an ECM vendor and integrator.  There are many SharePoint topics and submarkets I was not focused on, so this isn’t a complete SPC review. 

The Conference

“Share More, Do More” was the theme of SPC 2012 and it was well realized.  Microsoft was highlighting the new maturity level of the SharePoint market.  SharePoint was recognized as a $2B market, and it continues to be very hot for ecosystem vendors, consultants and integrators.  My sample of attendees indicated that there were more experts and executives, and fewer administrators and software developers in attendance than in prior years.  SPC is an expensive event to attend, and the level of attendee reflected a corporate desire to get a good return on their investment. 

The sessions were crowded by 12,000 attendees.  Contrast this to the Open Text Enterprise World event in Orlando which advertised 1400 attendees the same week.  SharePoint 2013 was a newly announced product, but it is not yet shipping and was not as much of a topic as SharePoint 2010 on the show floor, except for the Microsoft booths.  Vendors were demonstrating early versions of their solutions using 2013, to the extent that the Mandalay Bay internet connection allowed them to, and buyers were still trying to digest what the move to SharePoint 2013 means for them.  Microsoft was emphasizing a cloud-first message, which essentially bifurcates the SharePoint market into SharePoint 2010-style applications on-premise (supported in SP 2013) and Office 365 applications which use the multi-tenant capabilities of SharePoint 2013 in Office 365 in the Microsoft cloud. 

The Vendor Exhibits 

My first assessment of the exhibits is that there were lots of software tools vendors that add capabilities to the SharePoint infrastructure of large organizations.  Most of these companies, like HP and Dell (Quest), EMC, Symantec, NetApp, and Rackspace were horizontal, not vertical, plays.  This means that they are adding infrastructure that companies in any industry could use.  These were the biggest booths.

There were fewer pre-built business solution providers (as opposed to custom application developers) than I would have expected.  These are the companies that deliver business solutions on top of SharePoint.  The pre-built solution vendors that stood out for me were Corridor (Contracts), Readsoft (Accounts Payable), Verbella (Accounts Payable and others), KnowledgeLake (Accounts Payable and others), K2 (HR, Accounts Payable and others), Winshuttle (SAP applications), Sitrion (SAP HR applications), NextDocs (Pharma) and CLM Matrix (Contracts).   I am sure I missed many, but this is not as long a list as you would expect given the maturity of SharePoint.

There were lots of add-on ECM and RM providers, as I expected.  This is one of the SharePoint use cases that drives the most demand.  The following are the SharePoint ECM and RM ecosystem market segments and vendors that stood out for me: 

BA Insight, MetaLogix, Metavis, Pingar, and Concept Searching were showing solutions for enhanced search, taxonomy, migration and metadata management that add value in some specific scenarios and use cases. 

K2, Nintex, and AgilePoint were showing powerful BPM and workflow solutions.  The new SharePoint 2013 model has changed how Windows Workflow Foundation works, and several of these vendors were showing off their new SharePoint 2013 work flow models. 

In records management there were two segments.  Inside SharePoint records management exhibitors included Gimmal (where I work) and Collabware.  RecordPoint (Australia) was in attendance but not exhibiting.  File Trail adds a SharePoint physical records management object and RFID for records management if you already have a SharePoint records management solution, whether from a vendor or home grown.  In the outside of SharePoint records management market, EMC, Open Text, HP and Laserfiche all had impressive booths and were demonstrating ECM products that ingrate with SharePoint for records management.  Several approaches to supporting similar requirements were demonstrated. 

Axceler, AvePoint, Idera, and Dell (Quest) were showing impressive solutions for administrative governance and user administration., Infragistics, OnePlace and Colligo were showing several diverse approaches to mobile applications and BYOD in SharePoint environments. 

KnowledgeLake, Kofax, Psigen, and Kodak were showing their solutions for SharePoint capture in support of records management and ECM. 

More integrators, both large and small, were exhibiting than I remembered from prior years.  Many were the ones you would expect, and many were new.  Several of the largest global integrators were not exhibiting, but were prowling the floor looking for tools and solutions to add to their arsenals.  Some of the ones that stood out included CSC, Booz, Allen, Accenture, Avanade, PWC, Neudesic, Slalom, Perficient, Cognizant, CSC, CGI and Catapult.  Jornata, Blue Metal Architects, UnlimitedViz, Mindsharp, and several other interesting smaller SharePoint consultants and integrators were also there. 

The Market

Several things stood out for me about the SharePoint market that was on display in Vegas. 

We saw more big companies making 2013 enterprise decisions, both for SharePoint 2010 and 2013.  We met with a dozen architects who were designing enterprise deployments for 20K+ employee companies.  This is an exciting new phase of the market. 

There was a much more intelligent assessment of application build vs. buy.  (Gartner had a very interesting report on this topic that was released during the conference if you have access to a Gartner subscription.)  In prior years, lots of companies made the point that they only believed in out-of-the-box SharePoint solutions.  This has proved painful from a cost and pain of application upgrade perspective, and especially painful from a reinventing-the-wheel perspective.  Consultants, analysts and case studies have consistently made the point that many functions have been very well implemented in other organizations and are now more cost effective to buy than to build.  At SPC this year, we saw many more companies that have established their SharePoint foundation and understand the trade-offs of build vs. buy.  These were the ones that were constructing SharePoint reference architectures based on standards and best practices with add-on components and frameworks. 

Microsoft focused mainly on Office 365 and SharePoint 2013 at SPC 2012, but we saw an audience that was still more focused on leveraging their current and planned SharePoint 2010 solutions.  Everyone understands that SharePoint 2013 is the future, but people wanted solutions for business problems today.  Especially on-premise.  We did not see a lot of buy-in for Office 365-only deployments for the enterprise deals.  People we talked to wanted some of their sites in Office 365 and some on-premise.  The question we heard is whether the pricing of these deals will make them more attractive and whether this will be more attractive to SMB or to the largest organizations. 

The SharePoint market going forward is bifurcated, with many organizations using the SP 2010 model on-premise, and others using or waiting on SP 2013 in Office 365 when it becomes more mature.  There are some great collaboration applications in the Office 365 cloud today.  Corporations are looking for hybrid solutions to integrate their Office 365 and on-premise deployments.  The question we heard was how best to create hybrid SharePoint environments that manage both Office 365 and on-premise information in an integrated fashion. 

I missed Pamela Anderson at the Tryst Event at the Wynn.  Thanks to Axceler and their co-sponsor friends (Apptix, BlueRooster, Brightstarr, Cloudshare, Concept Searching,, Jornata, Symantec or WebTrends) for hosting the best party at SPC 2012. 

I am very optimistic about 2013, the market, the cloud, the business, SharePoint 2013 itself, and especially next year.  My daughter has been telling me the world will end in December of 2012 and I am saying “tain’t necessarily so.”  See you in Orlando in 2013. 

#SharePoint #ElectronicRecordsManagement