Yesterday, I published an article about Microsoft's release of the Top 56 Sessions for the SharePoint Conference 2014. Today, I'd like to go behind the sessions list, to amplify a message that Microsoft is broadcasting about Office 365 and SharePoint on-premises.
What we see in the Top 56 Sessions list is that SPC 2014 is clearly an event that recognizes THE IMPORTANCE OF BOTH CLOUD AND ON-PREMISES SHAREPOINT; an event that is truly “hybrid.” This is an important and meaningful shift in messaging that suggests that both Microsoft and the community need to listen to each other a bit more closely.
SPC 2012: Focus Created a Perception
Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2012 left many feeling uneasy. They felt the event was too focused on Office 365. The messaging created for that event continued coming from Microsoft for months afterwards and, as many customers learned, Microsoft's internal scorecards--the way they evaluate employees--was based heavily on the success of Office 365.
Together, the messaging and the sales push for Office 365 created a perception that the only thing Microsoft cared about was Office 365. People wondered whether Microsoft understood the value of on-premises implementations of SharePoint--both existing and new implementations.
They didn't see guidance or tools to help them migrate to the cloud, or to support hybrid scenarios that, in my opinion, are the reality of the near term, for medium- and large-customers particularly.
I can completely understand why the community and Microsoft's customers felt that way. It definitely seemed like Office 365 was the bull in the on-premises china shop.
SPC 2014: Changes to Messaging Don't Happen By Accident
However, over the last year, Microsoft has been releasing more guidance and support for hybrid environments. And, when you look at the content for the SPC2014, it's very clear that on-premises and hybrid scenarios will get some well-deserved "love." I point specifically to the post-conference workshop presented by the incredible Bill Baer and Steve Peshka--two top guys on the SharePoint team at Microsoft--as an example.
It seems Microsoft’s messaging has matured, and that this is a “big tent” event for SharePoint implementations in any cloud—private, IaaS or SaaS. These nuanced changes to messaging don’t happen by accident at Microsoft, so I’m very optimistic that the SPC14 content portends a more constructive partnership between Microsoft and its customers as we all work to achieve our goals with technologies like SharePoint.
I'm becoming more confident that Microsoft is "hearing" their customers and the community in regards to the importance of on-prem and hybrid scenarios. I'm seeing changes that make me optimistic that these scenarios won't just be left behind in the Office 365 dust.
No product can be all things to all people, but Microsoft is quite disciplined about identifying what they feel the market needs, and delivering. They're not spot-on all the time, and there's always more they can do, but it seems they've been dedicating time, money, and resources towards on-prem and hybrid recently.
Time to Listen
If, in fact, Microsoft is listening to and taking action on the concerns customers have in this arena, it can be expected that there will be announcements at the SharePoint Conference, rather than any time between now and then. I'd be shocked if there were any on-prem related product/feature announcements before SPC at this point.
The reason I'm writing this, today, is that I think it's time for the community to listen to Microsoft for a bit. There's been enough "reveal" that we can hope that on-premise and hybrid scenarios are, in the words of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "Not dead yet!"
I'd propose that we focus for the next few months on what we can achieve with current versions of the product, on-premise and in IaaS models. Give our concerns and our heated debates a rest over the holidays, and wait to see if Microsoft delivers at SPC2014.
Microsoft seems to be hearing us, so let's hear them, until the SPC is finished. They can't do everything at once, but they seem to be doing something.
And--while I wish this wasn't the case--Microsoft isn't a company that comes out and says, "We totally hear you about business need X and feature Y and problems-with-the-current-product Z, and we're going to solve those in the next few months."
So we have to wait. There are plenty of good things we can be doing, on-prem, in the IaaS clouds, or in Office 365 in the meantime.
And whatever Microsoft does and does not deliver at SPC 2014, you can be sure at that time the community will make their opinion heard, loud and clear. And it will all start again!