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Apparently SharePoint is on its way out and Microsoft should probably start thinking about doing away with it. This is according to Gartner analyst Jeffrey Mann, who also suggests that companies who rely heavily on SharePoint ought to start start preparing for a cloud-based future.
Mann, who was speaking at the at the 2013 Gartner Symposium, said that “28% of companies use SharePoint across their entire workforce.” “If you only count companies where at least half the staff are using it once a week or more, that number climbs to 70%,” he says.
But, adds Mann, “hardly anybody likes it”. When it comes to user experience, SharePoint scores low on ease of use, the amount of ongoing management it requires, and the fact that content isn’t easy to migrate between systems.
The way Mann sees it, the problem is that SharePoint has become a victim of its own success:
It’s become too big, too complex and too hard to manage and upgrade, especially since in many organisations it’s highly customised. It takes three to five years to develop and test a new version, and then another year or two before most businesses take the plunge and install it. As a result, many people are using versions of SharePoint that are least four years old.
Meanwhile, more agile cloud-based rivals benefit from much shorter upgrade cycles – and users are noticing the difference.
Move to the cloud or move out
Mann feels the only way Microsoft can survive the competition is to move SharePoint to the cloud, effectively “killing” it in its current form.
“Killing on-premises SharePoint makes sense for Microsoft and ultimately for its customers as well,” he says. “It will deliver a better user experience, at potentially lower cost for the client, while also ensuring steadier revenues for Microsoft.”
There is hope for Microsoft however, according to Mann, in the form of enterprise social networking platform Yammer. “Yammer and SharePoint overlap and complement each other in several ways; there are strong signs that whatever evolution SharePoint undergoes as it becomes more cloud-based will be strongly influenced by Yammer.”
Though the crux of the issue remains that “SharePoint on-premises is slowly on its way out”. Mann reckons that it is currently “an evolutionary dead end”.
“The installed base is so large that Microsoft will of course keep supporting it; but upgrades will be slower coming, and users shouldn’t expect the newest or the greatest functionality. The main focus of development will shift to the cloud,” he adds.
A cloud-based solution will be more beneficial for the tech giant and Mann argues that “SharePoint Online will develop much more quickly, to the point where it’s most useful to think of them as two separate products – and the gap will continue to widen.”
He advises that company technologists should develop long-range plans for a post-SharePoint world now. “I would hold back on upgrades and new development and choose the cloud option whenever I need to add new functionality. Microsoft may or may not provide an easy way forward, but for anyone who’s invested heavily in customisation it will never be painless.”