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SharePoint 2013 challenges and questions for CIOs

Juan Carlos Perez | March 5, 2013
SharePoint 2013 arrives with a new user interface and new collaboration, search, storage and task management features. But gaps remain in areas like social and mobile, and upgrading and governing SharePoint is still rife with challenges.

To make up for that, Microsoft has relied on third-party add ons from companies like NewsGator, but clearly Microsoft felt a sense of urgency about beefing up ESN features natively within SharePoint.

While a level of integration exists between SharePoint and Yammer at the API (application programming interface) level, the engineering work to fuse them deeply will take time, and many questions remain about how this will be done.

At the SharePoint Conference in November of last year, Microsoft said in a press release it was "investing" in integrating Yammer and SharePoint in the areas of "unified identity, integrated document management and feed aggregation."

As of early March, these integration points remain outstanding, and Microsoft declined to provide a timetable for their delivery.

Asked for comment about how it will deal with duplicate features in the two products, Microsoft said in a statement that, Yammer will power the social experiences in SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics and Skype without providing more details.

Microsoft has also started bundling Yammer, which is cloud-based software, with some enterprise editions of Office 365, the cloud collaboration and e-mail suite that includes SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Lync Online and other components.

Microsoft's answer for ESN is clearly Yammer, not SharePoint 2013, says Rymer, but the plans are unclear. Yammer is a good product, but how does it relate to SharePoint? How will it come together? We don't know," he says.

SharePoint Upgrade Process Issues

SharePoint, first launched in 2001, has historically presented customers with complicated upgrades. Although its an area in which Microsoft has been gradually improving, upgrading to SharePoint 2013 involves non-trivial considerations.

For starters, there are a number of functions that have been added, modified, fused with others or eliminated altogether.

"Some features have been deprecated, and there are new ones that change the way to do certain things, so there will be a change impact," says Way Chong, a Toyota certified Kaizen coach and technology governance manager. "I recommend putting aside the assumption of backwards compatibility and planning for retesting your customization when upgrading to SharePoint 2013."

Microsoft has said that SharePoint's 2013 version will be the last of the product's "big bang" upgrades coming at 3-year intervals. Instead, both the on-premise version and SharePoint Online will be updated much more frequently. SharePoint Online will be upgraded every 90 days, according to Microsoft. It's not clear what the release cycle will be for SharePoint on premise, but Gartner believes it could be every year or two years. This could represent problems both for Microsoft and for SharePoint customers accustomed to the previous upgrade cycle, according to Mann.

"This is a huge change that completely reverses how they've developed the product in the past," Mann says.


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