The European SharePoint Conference 2014, Europe’s largest SharePoint-focused conference, took place last week (May 5th to May 8th) in Barcelona, and it was a great! I was fortunate to be a part of the Programme Team and contribute, although just a little bit, to the success of this huge event. A few statistics about the conference:
- 6 pre-conference full-day tutorials by SharePoint all stars like Dan Holme, Rafal Lukawiecki and Joel Oleson.
- 4 keynotes by Simon Skaria, Dan Holme, Christian Buckley, Mark Kashman and Rafal Lukawiecki
- 110 breakout sessions over 8 simultaneous tracks
- Over 80 speakers
- More than 1200 attendees from all around the world
- 55 sponsors
Each day was focused on a specific theme based on the main trends in the industry:
- The first day was focused on Cloud and Office 365
- The second day’s theme was Enterprise Social, Enterprise Content Management and Best Practices
- The third day was about Solutions and Devices
Without getting into too much detail, here are the general trends around SharePoint and Office 365, some of which were already shared in Microsoft’s SharePoint Conference, last March:
- The future is the cloud but SharePoint on-premise is not going away anytime soon. Next year a new version of SharePoint Server will be released and, after that, there are plans for an additional one. However, all the new features will first appear on SharePoint Online (Office 365) and some might never be released on-premises.
- When developing for SharePoint on-premises, always try to use the cloud-proof App Model to allow your solution to be used in SharePoint Online. Only go for Full Trust Code (old school solutions) if there is no other way.
- SharePoint Social will not be developed further because Yammer will end up replacing it completely.
- Yammer will be integrated into all Office collaborative experiences, from Outlook to Word, both Online and On Premises. Outlook will feature Yammer groups, Office documents will have an associated Yammer thread, and Yammer groups will have an associated calendar.
- The “Codename Oslo” Experience will bring us a new way of working, where the information you need is brought too you automatically through the power of the Office Graph, FAST-based search technology and the use of machine learning. It will be available through Office 365 and my guess is that it will become the new Office 365 homepage – an personalized information hub tailored to each user’s needs.
- Microsoft’s Business Intelligence stack continues to evolve. PowerBI, PowerPivot, PowerQuery, PowerMap and PowerView are all very impressive pieces of technology and I hear there will be announcements soon around these topics…
- SharePoint development is now achieving a maturity level that allows real Application Lifecycle Management. Source control, continuous integration, automated testing, automated code analysis and continuous deployment, are concepts that can currently be applied to SharePoint projects.
The Expo Hall featured the sponsors’ booths where everyone could meet their products and services, and meet some familiar faces such as Mike Fitzmaurice (Nintex), Edin Kapic (Beezy), Chris McNulty (HiSoftware) and Christian Buckley (Metalogix). The Community Area was also located in the Expo Hall, and a lot was happening here, especially during breaks:
- Soapbox sessions were being delivered by some of the SharePoint all stars (Dan Holme, Michael Noel, Mike Fitzmaurice, Joel Oleson, Jeremy Thake, Geoff Evelyn, Paolo Pialorsi, Agnes Molnar, Edin Kapic and Eric Overfield)
- The ShareMentor program was kicked off by Agnes Molnar
- Book signings
- Prize draws
Just like in previous years, one of the highlights of the ESPC is always the Gala Dinner. A social event that mixes attendees, speakers and organizers, and where the European SharePoint Community Awards winners are announced, as well as the Top 25 SharePoint Influencers. As expected, it was a great occasion to meet new people and the fact that |create|it| won an ESPC award for the third consecutive year only made it better.
Overall, it was a great experience and I just hope I get to attend it next year.
Microsoft’s SharePoint Conference 2014 started yesterday in Las Vegas with a keynote by Bill Clinton, followed by the usual suspects, Jared Spataro, Jeff Teper and Arpan Shah, presenting all the new stuff. This year I was unable to attend the Conference in person, but I got to watch the keynote live on Channel 9, and here’s what I’ve learned from it (and from a bunch of additional sources such as tweets, blog posts, and the like).
As the conference started, a few posts were published on Office Blogs:
Cloud vs On-Prem
Make no mistake – feature-wise, SharePoint On-Premise will start to lag behind SharePoint Online / Office 365. The only way is up. Here are some facts that support this claim:
- The next SharePoint Server version will be out in 2015. Meanwhile, Office 365 is getting updates almost on a weekly basis, and maintaining a very impressive 99,98% uptime.
- SharePoint “2015” will still include Social features but these will remain unchanged from SharePoint 2013. No investment will be made to improve it (more on this below).
- SharePoint SP1 (released in February 2014) adds support for hybrid scenarios where an on-premise SharePoint farm can have personal sites stored on OneDrive for Business (formerly SkyDrive Pro) in the cloud, and better Yammer integration with Yammer feeds instead of SharePoint Social feeds (more information here).
- Office 365 will have a new site template for Video Portal which will allow you to create a YouTube-like experience for your enterprise based on Azure Media Services.
- Elastic scale will come to Office 365, which will support site collections of up to 1TB (additional fees apply) and infinite scale per tenancy.
- OneDrive for Business will be released as a standalone service, competing directly with Dropbox and similar services (more information here).
Yammer will eventually replace SharePoint’s native social features so, according to Jared Spataro, we should all “Go Yammer”.
- Yammer is now integrated into Dynamics CRM
- Yammer is now accessible directly from the suite bar on Office 365, without requiring additional authentication
- Yammer conversations will be completely integrated with Outlook.com showing up as you click on a document, email or contact.
- Yammer will be a part of Office 365 Academic and Midsize Business Plans. It was already part of all Enterprise Plans.
- Microsoft expanded Yammer’s Enterprise Graph and built the Office Graph, which maps relationships between people and information by recording posts, likes, emails, replies, shares and uploads.
- A new app named Oslo will unleash the Office Graph potential and allow you to navigate through these relationships and discover new information.
- Yammer groups will become a cross-Office 365 concept. Creating a group anywhere on Office 365 will automatically provision a corresponding inbox, social feed, calendar and document library that group members can use. This new feature effectively replaces SharePoint’s workspaces.
- Yammer will be integrated with Lync and Skype.
With Office 2013 Service Pack 1, Office Apps gain additional features:
- PowerPoint and Access now support the new App Model.
- Outlook now supports a new type of App – Compose App – which allow you to interact will email messages or appointments when you are creating them.
- New Office Web Widgets, ListView and PeoplePicker, available as a NuGet package (more information here).
Tooling and Development
- New APIs for Office 365 focused on files/folders, calendar and contacts (more information here). It will also be possible to provision site collections on Office 365 programmatically.
- New open source Android SDK for Office 365 to help developers access data in Office 365 from Android Apps (more information here).
- New Cloud Business App project template on Visual Studio 2013 helps you create SharePoint Apps that leverage Windows Azure.
- Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013 – March 2014 Update (get it here).
- Napa Development Tools were updated and improved
At the Conference, Joel Oleson organized a funeral procession for InfoPath, and that was about all I heard about Microsoft’s new approach to form solutions. I read somewhere that Access will have an important role in InfoPath’s replacement but, so far, nothing specific. Since this is one of the topics that SharePoint professionals and clients are most worried about, I was expecting it to be addressed during the keynote. I believe there will be, at least, one breakout session on this topic so let’s wait and see.