When SharePoint Conference 2014 (SPC14) kicks off March 3 in Las Vegas, Microsoft (MSFT) will attempt to balance some timely updates for IT professionals, developers and executives. Take a look at the company's 100 Reasons to Attend SPC14 list, and you'll get a feel for key themes that will emerge at the conference. But ultimately, here are the five themes I'll be watching most closely.
1. SharePoint Meets Yammer: Microsoft spent $1.2 billion to buy Yammer -- an enterprise social networking business -- in 2012. The deal happened on former CEO Steve Ballmer's watch. I concede: I've never been fully sold on the overall enterprise social networking trend. But perhaps I've got a lot to learn here -- especially as the lines between Yammer and SharePoint continue to blur. How much? We'll get answers at the conference.
2. Hosted SharePoint vs. Office 365: Let's assume you no longer want to run SharePoint on-premises. You've got the SharePoint Online option and the various Office 365 SKUs from from Microsoft. But there are also third-party partners that offer their own Hosted SharePoint solutions. Names like SharePoint at Rackspace, SherWeb and Intermedia (among many others) come to mind.
My big challenge: Trying to determine how third-party hosted SharePoint services differ from Microsoft's own cloud services. More than a pricing conversation, I'd like to learn more about SLAs (service level agreements), day to day management, consulting services for application work and more.
3. Seeking Simplicity: Sure, this is a technical conference. But I also like to talk business. A lot of it. Now that Satya Nadella is officially CEO, I'd like to learn more about he and the enterprise team plan to make SharePoint less (not more) complex. As basic file sync and sharing services continue to expand (Box, Dropbox, etc.), Microsoft needs to make each of its enterprise applications so extremely easy -- blending consumer simplicity with enterprise power.
4. Voices to Know: Dozens of third-party speakers are set to address the conference. AvePoint, Rackspace, BrightStarr and Planet Technologies are among the teams that will have the most guest speakers on hand. Listen closely and you'll hear about compliance, document management, big data and more. For developers and IT pros focused on job security and career development, compliance remains the hot topic across all verticals.
5. Developers, Developers, Developers: Stealing that classic line from Steve Ballmer, I really want to understand how developers can continue to monetize SharePoint and Office -- even as more and more workloads move to cloud computing and Office 365. Fingers crossed, Rob Lefferts will provide some timely answers during his session.
What other themes are we tracking? Check SharePoint Pro daily, with ongoing insights from Content Manager Caroline Marwitz and the rest of our team.