We don’t think of using Microsoft Office to do everything. We think of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Access, and Outlook for distinct workloads. We should think of SharePoint in a similar way.
Thus, An Executive Decision
So I’m making an executive decision, which is easy because I have absolutely no authority or control: As of July 1—the start of Microsoft’s new fiscal year—SharePoint will no longer be a monolithic brand describing a product that addresses many different workloads and business scenarios.
Individual SharePoint Products
Instead, from July 1 onward, all marketing and documentation of SharePoint will focus on the individual business scenarios the current product supports, and the unique decisions that go into the procurement, design, implementation, governance, and administration of the product.
SharePoint Search. First to be released will be SharePoint Search. SharePoint Search will clearly be installed as a tightly governed, clean service, managed by service admins and configured by information architects to optimize search results and navigation. Nobody will be installing third party Web Parts or half-baked full trust solutions, so the farm can be kept up to date to ensure no security vulnerabilities expose the wrong information to the wrong people.
SharePoint Intranet Portal. On July 2, Microsoft will make available for download SharePoint Intranet Portal. The product will bring to the front SharePoint 2013’s web content management capabilities for employee-wide intranets. Unfortunately, the first release will not include any improvements to the meager out-of-box, enterprise-wide navigation features.
SharePoint Extranet. The following day, SharePoint Extranet will be released as a subscription-based service running on the Office 365 cloud, leveraging the sharing and authentication options introduced by SharePoint 2013.
SharePoint Teams. After the July 4th holiday comes SharePoint Teams. This product will come in several editions. SharePoint Teams for Small and Medium Businesses will be an Office 365-based service. The on-premises version will require at least four servers: two for sites, one for workflow, and one for service applications. Additional servers are recommended for fault tolerance and scalability of the service and workflow components. This product also includes personal portals and data storage—formerly known as My Sites.
SharePoint for Projects. SharePoint Dashboards and SharePoint Project Management round out the exciting first week with a same-day release.
SharePoint Slam. Finally, in mid-July, SharePoint Slam—the mashup of what was SharePoint social, communities, Lync, Skype, and Yammer and—in a real surprise—SharePoint Classic Platform, the only product in the new suite that allows full-trust, classic-style solutions.
Because It's Not a Single-Purpose App
I made the executive decision to break up the product because one of the biggest blockers to successful implementation continues to be a lack of understanding that SharePoint is not a single-purpose application (like Exchange, for example), that can be procured, designed, architected, implemented, governed and administered with a single instance and a simple set of guidance.
It's Closer to an OS
In the 1990s, people would ask me whether they could support their business with a single Windows NT server—as a domain controller, Exchange server, SQL server, file server and—of course—expose it to the DMZ for remote employees and their corporate website.
Today, the same mindset seems to pervade many enterprises’ perception of SharePoint. And, in all reality, SharePoint today is closer to an OS—providing a data store, navigation, and a user experience for a diverse range of applications and plug-ins—than it is to an application.
Perhaps the only way to get organizations to understand SharePoint, to invest the right resources, and approach SharePoint the right way—is to force us to think of it as something other than a single product.