Thoughts on ‘In the New World Order, Microsoft’s Biggest Competition is IT’

09-11-2013 9-20-36 AMThere’s an excellent article on WindowsITPro, posted on September 5, 2013, by Rod Trent called In the New World Order, Microsoft’s Biggest Competition is IT.

I encourage you to read the article in its entirety, but a few bits stand out for me.

…for [Microsoft’s Cloud offerings] to actually work, Microsoft also has to alter how things have generally been done. Microsoft has a large speed bump on the way to glory that has to be eliminated before companies will move to the Cloud en masse. That speed bump is IT.


…Microsoft has been looking for just the right moment over the past decade where they could literally supply complete IT services for every business out there. Technology has evolved, the Cloud has become ever-present, and Microsoft believes the time is right.

Bell Curve

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One thing that is sure in all of this: “The Cloud” is a disruptive technology that most IT departments are still trying to figure out. As with all capabilities, there are “good” and “bad” IT departments and everything in between.

If Microsoft can support organizations better than the left half of the capability bell curve, then they can take over huge swaths of the IT world. The problem for those organizations is that moving back or forth is expensive, so they can get trapped into a model that may or may not work for them. That captive set of customers becomes Microsoft’s cash cow customers. Even with poor services and support, they are stuck there.

However, there’s a lot that Microsoft must do to make this work as they try to assimilate IT departments toward the middle or right on the bell curve. They need to have *better* services than those IT departments can provide. So far, the Office365 service hasn’t been providing that. Many organizations that move there are dissatisfied and some are moving back. “World class” service or “financially backed SLAs” mean nothing when your email is down or you can’t access SharePoint for weeks on end because an API is broken or migrated data isn’t accessible. Getting your money back for that downtime doesn’t cover even the most basic lost revenues or increased costs. At least in-house, one can fire someone; in The Cloud, no one hears you scream.

Perhaps the premise of the article seems far-fetched, but I don’t think so. Microsoft is looking for the Next Great Wave of revenue, and they may well see things as black and white as the article puts forward. As Microsoft’s customers, we all need to be testing their claims on a daily basis and making good decisions for our own needs and for our own requirements. Just because the marketing material for The Cloud looks good and all of the IT-related outlets are talking about it all the time doesn’t mean that it’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Keeping up with the Joneses is not an IT strategy.

Office365 Redmond Slides and Demos

I had great fun presenting at Office365 Redmond a few Saturdays ago. Not only was it on the Microsoft campus, but some Microsoft folks were in my session as well. It’s always interesting to see the reactions from Microsofties when they see how people really use their stuff.

My session was entitled “Flying in the Cloud: New Ways to Develop for SharePoint”. In some ways, the session was very similar to my old “Developing in SharePoint’s Middle Tier” presentations, but skewed toward Office365 and working with SharePoint Online. One of the great things about working in SharePoint’s Middle Tier is that the same approaches just plain work in both environments. There are a few small differences, but they aren’t of much consequence. I was able to do my demos on my Office365 E1 installation with no problems, since I had worked out my issues with migrating my demo environment from my local VM to SharePoint Online. It wasn’t a simple thing (though it should have been).

It was the inaugural event for Office365 Saturday, and I was interested going in how it would work vis a vis SharePoint Saturday. As it turned out, the majority of sessions were about SharePoint. It’s not clear if that’s because Exchange and Lync are less interesting, the communities for those two products aren’t as strong, or those folks aren’t as willing to spend a Saturday talking about them. In any case, I think that it’ll take a few more of these Office365 Saturday events before we all know whether the idea has legs, at least as a separate event from the venerable old SharePoint Saturdays themselves.

I’ve learned a few things about compatibility of solution files (WSPs) between SharePoint Online and on premises installations over the last few weeks. Because of this, I’m including two WSPs for each demo in a ZIP file. (The few slides I used are also included.) There is a WSP for on premises and one for Office365 for each of the two demo sites. They aren’t exactly the same, but they are close enough for you to see all of the important bits and pieces I demonstrated in the session. If you download things and have issues hydrating them, please let me know what those issues are, as I’m trying to understand as much as I can about these portability considerations.

Thanks to all of the organizers, sponsors, and other speakers for a great day of information and knowledge sharing.