The 2011 SharePoint Year in Review

Happy "tween week"—the week between major holidays for many of us in the world! This week, I wanted to turn the “podium” over to some of the leaders in the SharePoint community.

Sharepoint 2011 conference
Sharepoint 2011 Conference Welcomed the SharePoint Community

I’m lucky enough to count many of these folks as my friends, and all of them are experts to whom I turn for help with SharePoint projects for clients. I hope you enjoy getting to know a bit about them!

This week, I asked them to look back at 2011 and some of the significant events both in SharePoint Land and in their lives. [Editor's note: the 2012 SharePoint year in review is also posted now!] The following SharePoint "gurus" contributed to this week’s YEAR IN REVIEW:

  • Radi Atanassov
  • Rob Bogue
  • Geoff Evelyn
  • Jason Himmelstein
  • Debbie Ireland
  • Asif Rehmani
  • Chris Riley
  • Jeremy Thake
  • Sean Wallbridge
  • Tobias Zimmergren

Next week, these experts will be joined by even more, offering a series of insightful predictions for 2012. Given that 2011 was the 10th anniversary of SharePoint, and that 2012 is going to be a year in which Microsoft starts to "tip its hat" as to the next version of SharePoint, I really look forward to what this crazy gang has to say!

RADI ATANASSOV spent 2011 building up his SharePoint business, OneBit Software evangelizing and making the most out of his Microsoft Certified Master certificate and spending most of the years' days as the development architect for a few VERY enterprise projects in Australia.

Radi is also a seasonal SharePoint trainer and conducts SharePoint courses at a university, putting a lot of effort into developing SharePoint young guns. Here’s what Radi said about 2011:

"This year was a key year for many SharePoint players. SharePoint has now taken over everyone and everything. Skeptical .NET developers have come to accept that it is out there. Project managers have adapted to manage SharePoint projects.

Many testers have crossed paths with it. Trainers have learned to teach it. Architects have figured out how to integrate and design it. But what’s most important is that businesses have accepted it as a commodity service, just like email and web presence. I now feel that the whole globe has 'got it.'

We see many more "global' deployments, and it definitely makes things exciting. A key milestone is the launch of Office 365 achieving reach, flexibility, and a whole pool of opportunities."


I caught up with ROBERT BOGUE (, @RobBogue) on his way to catch some lost sheep and asked him what he thought about the last year.

"I expected more reflection on the 10 years of SharePoint; but the drive to keep delivering new business solutions never slowed down enough for us to realize how much time had passed. Organizations of every size continue to see the value of an integrated platform."

Rob also pointed me to a great blog entry he just posted, looking back at his first ten years with SharePoint.


GEOFF EVELYN is a Scotland-based SharePoint MVP having great fun with SharePoint implementation, focusing on service delivery, adoption, and planning. When not playing the sax as loud as possible, and falling off horses, he publishes many free articles and tools all available from his website, SharePointGeoff, and at Codeplex.

He writes loads of SharePoint articles and authored Managing and Implementing SharePoint 2010 Projects (Microsoft Press) and co-authored MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) 2010 Study Guide for Microsoft Word Expert, Excel Expert, Access, and SharePoint (OReilly). Geoff’s review of 2011 went as follows:

"This year, wow, it’s been so busy with companies migrating into SharePoint 2010 because of its closer alignment to Office 2010 and a massive uptake in Office 365, particularly with public and private SharePoint, especially from small mobile companies.

"It’s all been great fun, and interestingly companies I’ve been working on this year are keen not to repeat SharePoint implementation issues of the past (project planning in vacuum scenarios – which I could talk about forever!!!)."

JASON HIMMELSTEIN (, @sharepointlhorn), SharePoint Practice Director for Sentri and author of the upcoming O’Reilly book SharePoint for Business Intelligence, took a few minutes out of his vacation back to the great state of Texas to share what 2011 was for him: the year of the Community.

"I popped my head up and out of my DoD space and realized that there was a whole big SharePoint world out there and amazing people who make it amazing. I had always been a consumer of the great works of various people in the community, but had never contributed myself.

I started blogging and eventually decided it was time to give back and make a community donation to CodePlex. Wherever I travel and whomever I speak with, I am never disappointed with the lengths that community members will go to help each other out.

It was a real eye-opening realization, and one that sparked me to leave my job of more than five years and venture out into the consulting world again to pursue that lofty goal of furthering SharePoint in the community."

He went on to say, “One of the most amazing things of this year to me was the SharePoint Conference. In a year where Microsoft did not release any significant new SharePoint related products or functionality, we had one of the best turn outs for a SPC in recent memory.

What was the driver for people to come out in droves for this event in Anaheim? The SharePoint community.

Competitor or collaborator, protagonist or antagonist, IT pro or dev, people in our community seem to take immense pride in coming to the aide of their fellow SharePointers. I am proud to be a contributing member of this community and look forward to another amazing year.”

DEBBIE IRELAND (SharePoint MVP,,, had a super-busy 2011 as CEO of New Zealand’s leading SharePoint training organisation (they spell it with an "s" down there), where the urgent need for training was highlighted constantly by companies who have had SharePoint for awhile and want to understand what they have.

Debbie also ran four successful SharePoint conferences in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Hong Kong, which once again confirmed the thirst in people who attended, wanting to further their SharePoint knowledge and skills, and learn how to realize more for their investments.

The interest from attendees at the conferences showed that, in 2011, the market (down under in New Zealand and Australia, in any case) was maturing. So while companies solidified the 'SharePoint they have,' they turned to extend the platform to realize more value in online forms for improving processes, business intelligence, and dashboards, and began to use more third-party products to achieve the returns they are after.

I caught up with ASIF REHMANI ( contributor and Critical Path Training trainer) while he was taking a breather for the holidays after a year full of fast-paced SharePoint madness.

Asif said, "This has been a pretty big year for SharePoint 2010 and its little brother, SharePoint Online (which ships with Office 365). Although some may say that the uptake in SharePoint 2010 adoption was not as prevalent as was earlier predicted, the truth is that lots of companies are considering it but are just being cautious getting onto this new technology stack. You will be seeing many of them taking the plunge early in 2012."

He also mentioned that this year he saw many companies get really serious about their commitment to SharePoint by empowering all their users with the knowledge they need to be successful when working with SharePoint to build their applications and solutions. Asif felt "satisfactorily" about this past year and was really bullish about the upcoming one!

CHRIS RILEY gets daily IVs filled with technology. His passion is in the area of bleeding-edge productivity technologies. He specializes in Enterprise Content Management (ECM), document imaging, and virtualization.

He is currently the product manager at a California startup called CloudShare, which offers full virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud for SharePoint development and testing. He regularly speaks at SharePoint Saturdays and other industry events on topics of knowledge worker efficiency, information governance, and planning for IT project success. His twitter handle is @HoardingInfo.

Chris shared the following thoughts about 2011:

"Not surprising, yet another year for rapid technology change. In the SharePoint world, as predicted, the adoption of SharePoint 2010 solidified and became a more comfortable concept for people. 2010 is less of a novelty and more of a reality for many organizations. Also not surprising, the success rate of adoption has not substantially increased.

From my view of the world, organizations are still failing heavily: not in technology, in execution. Very poor planning is still leading to SharePoint sprawl, use of features not needed, missing features that are. It’s never the technology’s fault; it’s always that its flexibility has been under-estimated and poorly managed.

The risky aspect of this trend is that as frustration increases, end users blame the technology instead of the implementers, and in 2011 end users had a much larger push for competitive solutions such as Google Docs and Ironically if a company fails at SharePoint, it will fail in any other solution as well.

I am happy to see, however, a greater split in SharePoint expertise. In the past, a SharePoint expert was a one-size-fits-all proposition; now we see clearly that individuals truly specialize in one subject or another on the platform. This paints better expectations for the market, and in 2011, end users’ understanding of the platform clearly increased."

I am lucky enough to work with JEREMY THAKE every day at AvePoint. He’s one of the founders of Nothing But SharePoint, is a great twitter “follow” @JThake, and is known for pushing the envelope and poking the bear.

While we’re still trying to get him to speak “gosh darned American,” at least he always has great hair.

Jeremy said the following about 2011:

"This year has been a big year for me personally, moving to the United States from Australia to work for AvePoint as an enterprise architect. It’s been really interesting to see the SharePoint ecosystem through vendor eyes after being a consultant in the SharePoint market since 2003.

As SharePoint becomes an even more integral part of organizations’ IT strategies and implemented for business-critical systems, Microsoft, service integrators, and vendors have really had to step up to ensure it delivers return on investment. To that aim, it is vital to build an effective governance system around the platform."

SEAN WALLBRIDGE had a triumphant, if not exhausting 2011 and is about to enjoy some much-needed rest hanging with Mickey and Friends in Florida to start off 2012. During the past year, itgroove has grown significantly, and SharePoint has been there to drive and provide the framework the business needs to work effectively.

When not drinking from the SharePoint fire hose, Sean spends time hanging and travelling with his wife and two brilliant kids, performing with SuperSauce or punching rants into his Brainlitter blog. He’ll occasionally type out something incomprehensible @itgroove as well.

Oh and Sean is turning 40 this year ... The (used) Range Rover (that gets six miles to the gallon) is already in the driveway, so the midlife crisis appears to be right on schedule. When I asked Sean to review 2011, he immediately pointed to search as a biggie. He said:

"It’s strange, but it seems only now are folks discovering that SharePoint 2007 couldn’t do partial word and wildcard search. I guess they are seeing the 2010 Search demos and realizing they had search at their fingertips before, but never used it extensively.

In relation to search, we are seeing a lot of emphasis on the ‘presentation’ of search such as sexy, photo-rotating home pages for intranets instead of the tired, blocky RSS-fed home pages of years past – ala Bing or Google. Lots of requests for that and I expect a lot more in the future.

Making Search front and center is certainly where it’s at. We also did a ton of upgrades/migrations for folks this year. In fact, I can only think of two clients left of ours that are on Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) or 2007.

Response to 2010 has been amazing. They wanted it and they wanted it yesterday. I credit the Wiki Page Home Page, ribbon (yep, folks are over that change now), and Search Refinements to being the clear winners and difference makers in the decision process. Workflow has been big as well.

Folks have their data in SharePoint now, users are starting to truly understand the benefits of the product and now they want to go to the next level. From our perspective, when we demonstrate a product like Nintex, which provides a web-based, visual workflow (and results) presentation, the light switches on and the Purchase Order gets approved very quickly."

Last but not least—it’s just that his last name starts with "Z"—there’s TOBIAS ZIMMERGREN. Tobias—an MVP from Sweden—is the CEO of TOZIT AB  and author of the highly popular SharePoint development blog at

With many years in the IT industry, he has been focusing on SharePoint and related technologies for the past many years. He is a public speaker on many conferences and events, as well as the co-founder and organizer of the Sweden SharePoint User Group.

If you attend any of the major SharePoint events around the globe, try to spot the guy wearing the most awesome pants you can find or sharply dressed in a suit. Most likely you’ve found Tobias. Since he’s pretty awesome and kind, don’t be afraid to go and say Hi – he would appreciate that.

Tobias shared the following thoughts:

"“During the past year a lot of companies have adopted SharePoint 2010 and integrated it as a core platform in their businesses. In many cases we’ve even seen a great ROI on these implementations by being able to put some old legacy systems to sleep and lower the overhead maintenance costs for running multiple applications, systems and platforms.

We’ve also seen some fantastic transitions with companies seriously considering a move into the Microsoft Office 365 solutions for SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, and Office. A few of our clients have already migrated to Office 365, and it seems quite a few more will start their migration work in Q1-Q2 2012.

One thing that clearly sticks out in the year that passed is the preparation work being made for migrations to future versions of SharePoint and migrations into the cloud (Office 365 with SharePoint Online)."

So that’s what some of the leaders in the SharePoint community thought about 2011. How do their thoughts relate to your experience? Join us next week as these and other experts—including Joel Oleson—peer into their crystal balls and pull out some predictions for 2012!

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