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Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011: High Availability, Cloud, Transition Talk

SharePoint gets new Project, Visio

At Day 1 of the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011, Microsoft promoted its message of SharePoint as mission-critical app and displayed its high availability features via a heart-pounding (though successful) failover on stage during the keynote before most of the 7,000 or so attendees.

It also expounded on its theme of SharePoint scalability by showing the app/platform/Swiss Army knife/Popeil Pocket Fisherman playing well with enterprise mega-companies but also helping to further the missions of small, passionate organizations such as a rocket-building business and a worldwide organizer of charities.

SharePoint 2010 SP1 already supports SQL Server Denali CTP3, with its AlwaysOn feature that allows for creation of replicas of a whole farm. When Denali goes to RTM, a date which is still in the estimate stage, SharePoint admins will find it also offers extended PowerShell capabilities and souped-up business intelligence.

Microsoft is also folding into SharePoint spanking new versions of Project and Visio. Though both still stand alone, they also bolt on top of SharePoint 2010.

Project integrates with the entire business intelligence toolset as well as with Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS), Microsoft Dynamics, and SAP, indicating Microsoft’s determination to be all things to all organizations.

Visio’s UI has the Office look, and its audience aim is to reach a wide range of users, from business process management analysts to engineers, software development teams, advanced end-users, and probably small populations of Baltic countries.

Lastly, Microsoft is pushing the cloud. (Is that insight alone not worth a trip to Anaheim?) Admittedly, it has come to the cloud party later than others, but as with many parties, it’s not when you arrive but how.

Microsoft is arriving with a full retinue of blue-shirted product managers expounding on the storage and collaboration benefits of the cloud. Of note is the upcoming addition of Business Connectivity Services (BCS) capabilities to SharePoint Online in Office 365, giving businesses a way to build cloud solutions that connect to non–Office 365 online services.

For those who aren’t ready or willing to embrace the cloud, there’s conciliatory talk of hybrid implementations of SharePoint, with mission-critical apps and content kept on-premises and less-sensitive/less-critical ones on Office 365.

We are in a time of great transition, Microsoft product managers said yesterday, some in those exact words, others implied. What they meant in the context of our conversations was that the cloud, social computing, and the consumerization of IT are all affecting the choices businesses are making in their IT hiring and purchases. And, as a consequence, the choices Microsoft is making in what it adds or refines in SharePoint.

Of course, it’s only natural to talk about transitions when one doesn’t have a new release to show off. Still, Microsoft is taking SharePoint and adding, refining, and polishing it up nicely—at least the big parts. The details will still be up to third-party vendors, and, it must be said, admins and devs.

Get more news about Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011:

Paul Thurrott’s “With Broader Availability, SharePoint Comes of Age”
Dan Holme's "SharePoint 2 years Later: The Conversation Changes."

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