Notes from the SharePoint Masters

Whether you feel certification is worthwhile to pursue or not worth your time, it’s still interesting to talk to the people who have attained the highest certification in the SharePoint universe. I count 47 people currently who hold the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) on Microsoft SharePoint Server.

These are the survivors, many of them Microsoft employees, who have slogged through prerequisite certifications, a one-hour interview to validate their knowledge, then three weeks of training in Redmond from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, with at least three written exams and a final eight-hour qualifying lab with multiple SharePoint farms and multiple scenarios.

What are they seeing with SharePoint? I spoke to several SharePoint masters to find out.


Customer Trends

“A lot of customers are interested in BPOS and SharePoint Online,” says Vesa “Vesku” Juvonen an MCM for SharePoint 2010 from Finland.

“We see interest from people in FAST,” says Mirjam van Olst, a SharePoint master from the Netherlands. “We’re pushing people to hosted SharePoint.”

“Governance is a buzz word,” says Morton Schioldan, a SharePoint master from Denmark, “but typically I see problems in logical architecture—knowing your limitations, your architecture. Typically, customers have lost control of the platform.”

“There’s a lot of multi-lingual questions—it’s a big challenge for collaboration,” says Maxime Bombardier, a SharePoint master from Canada.


Customized vs. Out of the box

“They tend to want as out-of-the-box as possible, but then they want branding and so on, so you end up having quite a customized deployment,” Juvonen says. “I see a lot of projects that fail because of fancy UIs. People tend to use the publishing features, which means more customizations. Interest in team development for SharePoint 2010—people want to know how to work on 20 versions—what are the tools? What are the methodologies?”


Migrating to SharePoint 2010

“In 2010, the service applications area is good. The content organizer and distributed archives is good. The improvements in search relevancy results are good, particularly with FAST,” says van Olst .

“Everyone’s waiting for the first big company to go through moving to 2010. [The issue is] how to integrate with other systems,” says Bombardier. “It’s very tough to move companies with multiple locations. Large companies might have specific requirements for special departments because of compliance.”


Enterprise Content Management

“Web content management, that whole ECM strategy—how does web content relate to records?” says Bombardier. “Large companies have been hearing about ECM, but they haven’t moved. These companies are way behind in content management, with terabytes of data they don’t know what to do with. They have people who are record keepers, who think everything’s a record. But you can’t treat all documents the same.” In the enterprise, he says, “all these silos didn’t talk to each other—SharePoint broke that barrier.”


SharePoint in General

“Microsoft tells everyone how easy it is, but it’s not easy to use in an enterprise environment. I’ve seen many SharePoint deployments go wrong. No one person can know everything about SharePoint. And it requires so much hardware,” says van Olst.

“It’s easier to learn the IT pro side if you’ve had developer training,” says Juvonen.

“It’s difficult to be good at SharePoint and do only one thing,” says Schioldan.

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