The fourth edition of the European SharePoint Conference has now finished and it was bigger and better than ever. It took place in the wonderful city of Stockholm, in Sweden, from November 9th to November 12th. Like in previous years, the first day was dedicated to pre-conference full-day tutorials and the conference actually started in the second day. It featured a large exposition floor for sponsors to present their products and services, and also a community area with soapbox sessions during session intermissions and meals. The conference got over 1,500 delegates from over 50 different countries.
The programme team did a great job going through over 700 session submissions and putting together a stellar lineup of great speakers while also broadening the scope of the conference to include Office 365 and Microsoft Azure along with the SharePoint-related content. Congratulations to Wim Dierickx, Göran Husman, Adis Jugo and Nicki Borell. I was on the programme team last year and I know how hard it is to select the sessions and speakers, and put together a compelling programme.
The first keynote was delivered by Seth Patton, Jeff Tepper and Bill Baer, and this fact alone demonstrates how much Microsoft is invested in connecting with the community. The keynote was mostly focused on:
- Usage and adoption statistics for Office 365
- New and improved features that recently rolled out in Office 365
- Near future roadmap for Office 365
- What’s New in SharePoint Server 2016
Regarding usage and adoption, Office 365 has some impressive statistics:
- Over 75,000 customers which account for more than 160 million users
- 200% monthly active user growth
- 7 Billion Office documents stored in OneDrive for Business, team sites and other SharePoint portals, which represents a 500% year-on-year growth in content
- Runs on 30,000 servers, with 20,000 SQL databases, on 19 datacenters around the world.
As for new features and near future roadmap for Office 365, Jeff Tepper and Bill Baer shared that:
- OneDrive for Business will now have a new rock-solid sync client (which has been in preview for a few weeks) and already has mobile apps for all devices. It recently got a revamped UI with a better browsing and sharing experience, and better tooling for IT management.
- SharePoint Online has rolled-out improvements in collaboration, co-authoring and external sharing features.
- The new Office 365 groups and their tight integration with Outlook 2016 is helping people to be more productive, adapting the technology to the users and not the other way around.
- Delve and the Office Graph are also evolving, with new APIs and the new analytics features that are now in development.
The biggest announcement was the release of a second and last beta version of SharePoint Server 2016 before the end of the month, which will be nearly feature complete. The new features of SharePoint Server 2016 were already known since Microsoft Ignite a few months back, but it was still interesting to hear about the enhanced mobile experience, robust and cloud inspired infrastructure, and the compliance and data loss prevention features.
My session was about “Content Recommendation with SharePoint Search” and I think it was well received by the 100 or so attendees in the room, but having to deliver a session on the afternoon of the last day usually means I’m not going to enjoy the conference because I’ll be too worried fine tuning the slides and demos, and practicing the presentation until almost the end. If you’re interested in the presentation contents check the slide deck on SlideShare.
Nevertheless, I still managed to attend a few sessions by really good presenters:
- Radi Atanassov (@RadiAtanassov) presented a great session on Office 365 Dev Patterns and Practices.
- Chris O’Brien (@ChrisO_Brien) gave some fantastic tips on what you should and shouldn’t do when developing for Office 365.
- Marius Constantinescu (@c_marius) showed us how to use Lightswitch to build cloud business apps in Visual Studio.
- Nuno Costa (@ndocosta) and João Oliveira (@joaopcoliveira), fellow Portuguese Microsoft guys, delivered a brilliant talk on Office 365 governance with PowerShell and CSOM.
- Rodrigo Pinto (@ScoutmanPt), fellow Portuguese MVP, got to present two great sessions: one on PowerShell Desired State Configuration and another one on techniques to migrate full trust solutions to the add-in model.
- Edin Kapic (@ekapic) made complex topics such as authentication and authorization seem simple as he showed how to build a custom claims provider for SharePoint. Pretty epic stuff.
- Knut Relbe-Moe (@sharePTkarm) dove deep into the Office 365 group and filled a room even on the last session slot of the conference.
It was a nice surprise to find Pedro Serrano and Daniel Pereira from Cave Digital showing off their Smart Governance product in the expo floor, and Alex Ferreira (@alexaem) and Tiago Duarte (@tduarte85) attending the conference. It’s always great meeting Portuguese friends when we’re far away from home.
Overall it was a great experience and the team in charge of the organization has done a tremendous job. If I had to point out three highlights of the event, those would be:
- The venue for the awards gala, which was absolutely fantastic, and the venue for the conference. It will be very hard to top that next year.
- The networking opportunities.
- The speaker and session lineup, which included top Microsoft executives.
Next year the European SharePoint Conference will take place in Vienna, Austria, on November 14-17, and I hope I can be there again.