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Should Microsoft kill SharePoint? [Gartner]

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.”

Author | Mich Atagana

Mich Atagana
Mich started out life wanting to be a theoretical physicist but soon realized that mathematics was required. So, she promptly let go of that dream. She then decided that law might be the best place for her talents, but with too many litigation classes missed in favour of feminist... More
  • marco_smith

    Totally agree with all the cons about using Sharepoint. But JM must have been asleep when he wrote his presentation or not all he said has been reported. “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.” Sharepoint is already offered with Office 365 Enterprise as TeamSite, which last time I checked is a cloud solution….

  • Dan Latendre

    I totally agree with JM. We compete with SharePoint – Igloo offers a 100% cloud alternative to SharePoint. What we hear on a daily basis are:
    – Business managers really unhappy with usability/complexity/lack of social features
    – Primary use case is doc mgmt

    – IT really don’t want to manage it – looking for a more self serve solution
    – Customization costs are too high and finding SharePoint expertise to customize can prove difficult
    – Per user/month cost is too high running around $45/user/month

    It is going to be interesting to see what MS does next with SP. With Office 365, Yammer and Azure… who knows, SharePoint may die. It definitely is not cloud or self serve today.

  • IceColdCase

    Where do you get the $45/user/month number?

  • Benjamin

    right, but it is only “SharePoint in the cloud” and not a really cloud driven / based product.

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  • Kim Gomez

    Bold propaganda statements to attract attention to Gartner, which this article will definitely do. But let’s revisit some of their other great predictions shall we???

  • Joe Preiner

    There are still going to be businesses that want and/or need on-premise installations for the foreseeable future because of licensing costs, security needs, internal politics and myriad other reasons.

    SharePoint, when developed effectively and branded appropriately, can easily be user-friendly enough to stop the “I don’t like SharePoint” conversations. Initial learning curve for some capabilities may be lengthy, but you’ll find that with most robust enterprise-level systems.

    This article essentially points out that cloud updates can be faster (duh) and that the cost to organizations is potentially lower. Groundbreaking news. Back to your regularly-scheduled lives.

  • marco_smith

    Aren’t we in danger of splitting hairs? Surely “cloud” is just a moniker for SaaS, PaaS and IaaS and the only variants are public vs private or possibly hybrid. All of which are just delivery/economic models that differ from the traditional owner/user models

  • Olorunosebi James

    it’s crazy, but I assure you that no serious multinational will take
    that plunge in this days of data leak, NSA, and Chinese hacker threats. I
    mean look at it, Google went down some weeks ago taking 30% of the
    internet with it. The risk far outweighs
    the benefits. Microsoft should stop getting carried away with the stiff
    competitions, the world doesn’t revolve around you. It’s all the
    profiteering craze between tech giants, organizations should stop
    getting dragged in that mud. For 2 years plus and SharePoint headaches I
    didn’t open a single support ticket with Microsoft. You can absolutely
    run SharePoint On-Premise without Microsoft’s support, with the proper
    assemble of developers, architects, administrators and super users in a
    team you will survive. I advise CEO’s, CIO’s to not give any part of
    their sensitive business data to the cloud, you may regret it in the
    future when “cloud terrorism” emerges. Business intelligence should tell
    you to stay on the side of caution. You want to break barriers and push
    the limits, yes it is good, don’t go doing it with business data on
    SharePoint. Keep your SharePoint on the premise.

  • Dan Latendre

    Osterman 2012 report – they state that TCO is almost $49/user/month for on premise version. Forrester 2012 report (SharePoint Enters its Awkward Teenage Years) finds users state too difficult to configure and requires heavy IT resourcing.

  • It’s a bit of a headline grabbing article to be blunt, with little substance and arguably some large portions of naivety on the analyst part.

    One has to wonder if the analyst thinks of products like Oracle, SAP or other enterprise based platforms. Should these be killed off also?

    It by design, does a lot of things for a lot of audiences, and I’d agree it’s become a very large product over the last couple of major releases.

    But like any large system, good planning, design and overall maintenance coupled with some common sense approaches to customisations will reap rewards.

  • Benjamin

    No, not in my eyes. Just putting some old stuff on IaaS doesn’t make a cloud solution out of it.

  • shivvajra

    It’s so TRUE!!! Consider this article 100% correct; Microsoft should move to more friendly type kind of SharePoint or whatever.

  • Richard

    Not convenced at all as of today. I’m a dev manager. We’ve developped a verticalized business solution based on Sharepoint. The business model of this solution is still really tough to explain to prospects/customers for our sales workforces…
    How to tell to SMALL companies that a part of their business web intranet based on a free sharepoint foundation based system will be better managed by a cloud based app ? (means to masses somewhere out there).

    What to say also if their intranet document mgt system and sub-sites contain confidential and propriatory information?

    Will be still really worth to migrate to a payable solution?

    Be carefful OpenSource response will not be that so fare….

  • David J Houlston

    Sharepoint is already a dinosaur. Cloud applications are more flexible and are constantly updated. Microsoft days weeks to roll updates. Sharepoint will not be able to keep up with cloud solutions – change is coming and the big companies will need to be ready. I don’t think Sharepoint should die – but a time is coming when you pick your poison and prepare to live by that decision.

  • donkos

    This article makes no sense. Replace it with what? SharePoint is not just about document management – it is a WEB SITE PROVISIONING ENGINE that happens to support document management, social computing, workflow management, etc. Is it SharePoint that’s hard to manage or the applications you are deploying via SharePoint? Integration with Yammer makes PERFECT sense and I think most of us would expect to see that in the future. In the short term, you can host SharePoint on-premises or access it via the cloud – since Microsoft already offers both options, what’s the issue?

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  • Trfletch

    Are you on crack? Sharepoint is already offered as a cloud solution, we have customers using on-premise and online versions of SharePoint for various reasons and they all love it. SharePoint is going nowhere, if anything it is going to grow a lot stronger now that it is bundled with Office 365 which is where pretty much every company is going to be heading!

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  • Nigel Price

    What a load of Twaddle !
    SharePoint is not going to disappear.
    SharePoint will be around for a long time to come.
    Will whoever wrote this please read the messages coming out of Microsoft.

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