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Get Up To Speed Now with SharePoint 2013 and Office 365

Get Up To Speed Now with SharePoint 2013 and Office 365

Who isn't learning SharePoint? Now is the time to update your skills with the latest books, training, and events.

As the summer holidays wrap up, fiscal year projects heat up, and we near the one-year anniversary of SharePoint 2013.  There’s NO BETTER TIME to get up to speed on SharePoint 2013 and Office 365.

If you’re already implementing the SharePoint platform, dig deeper and find new solutions.   If you’re new to the platform, dive in! 

Here are some options for getting the knowledge you need—the “mind meld” with experts—in the coming weeks and months!


SharePoint Bookapalooza

Holy deforestation, Batman!  There are 122 books listed on Amazon when you search for “SharePoint 2013”!  I had planned to shout out to a couple of close colleagues who recently released books. 

I then realized that just about everyone I know and work with has released a book in recent months.  So I’m returning to my original plan, which is to shout out to two specific sets of authors, simply because I followed their journey closely.

Congratulations to Scott Jamison, Chris Bortlik, and the incredible Sue Hanley for the release of Essential SharePoint 2013, which aims squarely at enterprises trying to solve problems with SharePoint.  Their goal was to create a highly practical, prescriptive guide that represents their extensive experience as consultants and experts.

Also, big kudos to friends and colleagues Randy Williams, CA Callahan, Chris Givens, Milan Gross, Brian Alderman, and Javier Barrera for their work on SharePoint 2013 Administration Inside Out, currently available as “Early Release.”  I know from experience what a challenge writing a comprehensive, end-to-end administration book can be, particularly after the product is RTM’d. 

So many books are written during beta and pre-RTM states of the software, and after the product is released and you learn through trial-by-fire what does and doesn’t work, documenting that stuff can be incredibly difficult.  This is the team to tackle that task!

So these are the two books I’m looking forward to reading during the last few weeks of my recovery from surgery! 

There are many incredible SharePoint books out there, by fantastic authors.  I’m going to start an effort in September to review at least a couple of books a month, and provide those reviews here at SharePoint Pro.

SharePoint Eventapalooza

The “live SharePoint event” space is just insane for the next nine months--it’s a great time to find the event that connects you with experts and peers in the industry to learn what it takes to solve the SharePoint problems you’re facing. 

There are so many events, in fact, that the best thing I can do for you is guide you to understand how to find the best event for you.

Technology events—try as they might—cannot be “everything to everyone.”  There is not a single event I’ve been to that has even begun to succeed at this, at least not since TechEds of the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

So look behind the marketing veneer at the content and experts being brought in to create the event.  Because events can bring in a limited number of speakers, for a specific number of time slots and session rooms, they make choices. 

Some events choose to focus on specific audiences.

There are events that are very strong for business management, project management, platform owners, and end users.  There are events that are very strong for developers. 

There are events that focus on the needs of designers.  And there are events that are heavy on content for IT Pros. 

Some events manage to do a very respectable job covering topics for several of these audiences.

Events also make choices about what technologies to focus on.  Even events like Microsoft’s TechEd often are “skimpy” on SharePoint content or System Center content because there are dedicated events (the SharePoint Conference and MMS, respectively), that are dedicated to those platforms. 

Some events are single technology, like the SPC, Evolution, SharePoint Fest, and the European SharePoint Conference.  These single-focused events will generally have the richest content if your job is really focused on just SharePoint.

Other events cover multiple technologies—either under a single umbrella (like TechEd) or as separately-marketed events that are co-located in a single facility. 

Either of these approaches usually allow you to jump between sessions of different technologies, which is particularly valuable if you wear many hats.  Many IT Pros manage SharePoint, Exchange, and Active Directory, for example.

Another variable to look at is the “length” versus “width” of an event.  Two events may have 50 sessions each. 

But if one event is only two days, and sessions are spread across 5 rooms, and sessions are only 45 minutes long, and the other event is over four days, with 75-minute sessions across four rooms, you’ll get a very different experience at each. 

You’d certainly have to make more choices about what to see and what to sacrifice at the first event. 

But even these differences don’t make one event better or worse.  It depends on what you’re looking for, what you can afford, and how much time you can spend out of the office.

On that note, be sure to look not just at the session list and speaker list, but also the schedule, to determine whether you’ll actually be able to attend the sessions you need—that they don’t overlap too much. 

But all of my discussion so far has been focused on the sessions and speakers and topics.  Personally, I’m finding that I attend only a very small number of sessions at events these days (except my own of course). 

The real value for me comes from the personal interaction with the speakers, the vendors who can help me understand where there are gaps in the Microsoft out-of-box feature set that they can address, and the other attendees, who are in the trenches with me, finding innovative ways to solve problems. 

What kind of interaction does an event provide?  Are there panels, forums, Q&As, birds-of-a-feather sessions, informal discussions, get-togethers, parties…? 

Where and how can I interact with others at the event?  Make sure this aligns with your own social skillset. 

If you’re introverted, a lot of parties may not really help you connect, whereas more structured activities like forums & Q&As might.

There are a lot of events between now and the holidays.  I’ll give you more notice as we get close to each. 

SharePoint Connections

Today, I’d like to point you specifically to SharePoint Connections, at IT/Dev Connections, September 30 – October 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

My colleague, good friend, and much-admired guru Scot Hillier has worked hard with the team at Penton (publishers of SharePoint Pro!) to create an exciting event that takes SharePoint Connections to the next level.  

There are some really great—and unique—sessions for IT Pros, developers, and business audiences, and it’s co-located with Connections events covering Windows, Exchange, SQL, and Microsoft’s development stack. 

I’ll be there doing two sessions: governance and role-based management/security; as well as a post-conference workshop which will be a prescriptive and automated build out of an intranet, from bare-metal to functioning collaborative intranet, based heavily on the work I did building the intranet for NBC Sports. 

You’ll leave with real, functioning scripts to build out a lab or production intranet, and a lot of great guidance and tips (if I do say so myself).

Why Now?

One last, VERY IMPORTANT note about events.  My personal analysis is that this autumn IS the time you want to go to an event if you’re planning on on-premises SharePoint 2013 in the next year.  Here’s why:

Next March, Microsoft is holding SharePoint Conference 2014 (SPC14), March 3-6 also in Las Vegas (am I the only one who is REALLY tired of Vegas?).  That event will “suck the air” out of the event space for SharePoint. 

To make matters worse, Microsoft is holding the North American and European TechEd events in May—a month earlier than usual.  So it’s going to be really hard for any other major SharePoint event to take place next spring.   

Because the SPC is Microsoft’s event, we’re all sort of assuming there will be huge announcements, perhaps even the “vNext” of SharePoint (as I’ve tweeted, some Office 365 farms are already running v16 bits, it seems). 

So let’s assume the event is focused on amazing, “net new” stuff, much of which will be released in Office 365 first, then (who knows?) perhaps in an on-premises version sooner rather than later. 

That means the SPC14 will probably not have a ton of content that is appropriate for SharePoint 2013 on-premises environments. 

So, while I personally am VERY excited about SPC14 (so much so that I’m leaving my Olympics post early to return for it), my “crystal ball” suggests that next spring it will be hard to find an event that is SharePoint 2013 heavy.  Hopefully I’m wrong, but at least you’re warned.






TAGS: Office 365
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