Advice: Use caution
Chris Beckett, a Microsoft Certified Master in SharePoint who has written two books on the 2013 version of the suite as well as a blog about SharePoint, advises users to be cautious and plan ahead when considering add-ons.
The problem is that customization, including add-ons, can make it tougher to upgrade cleanly to the next version, he says.
Adopt a deployment strategy of careful progress and small steps, he suggests. Pilot the add-on installation and, when making changes, know why you are doing them, he says.
One big piece of advice that LA Fitness' Bedar has for enterprises looking to extend their SharePoint deployments: Get your own people trained as experts in SharePoint so you can do most extensions on your own.
"Don't hire consultants," he says. "Get something set up and learn from it. Gain some experience. Then you might want to spend some money to do something that you can't do out of the box. That's what we did here."
SharePoint 2013 beckons
Customers say they're excited about SharePoint 2013. Eastman Chemical is evaluating the new version and plans to deploy it later this year, McGuire says. With the latest version, Eastman is looking to expand the reach of its SharePoint investment into more social media and mobile worlds for its users.
"We cannot get to SharePoint 2013 fast enough because we want to be able to deliver documents" via mobile devices more easily, through features such as SkyDrive Pro, which replaces the Work Space functionality that existed in SharePoint 2010, says McGuire.
SkyDrive Pro is a special library or folder that allows users to link to it from multiple mobile devices. It can be synched with other libraries and files to be shared with other users. "We think our users are really going to take advantage of that opportunity," says McGuire. "It really will help our mobile workforce."
Ramping up its 2010 usage
Cruise ship company Holland America Line is using SharePoint 2010 as a better way to move data and collaborate inside the company, says Carl Henthorn, a senior business intelligence developer. Some 40 divisions inside the company had been running and using their own individual instances of SharePoint in the past, but now they are being brought together through an enterprise version that will let users see what is being achieved on other ships, says Henthorn.
So far, the new capabilities are available to about 40 people today in a portal called HomePort, but the features are expected to be rolled out to the company's 15,000 global employees, he says so everyone can collaborate and view shared results and content.
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