Tonight’s Forecast: Cloudy with a Side of SharePoint

I just got back from a nice little event put together by our friends over at SoftArtisans called “Cloudy with a Side of SharePoint”. It was a freeform discussion at a local beer pub on all sorts of topics, but nominally “What’s up with SharePoint in the cloud?”.

Of course, you can get a bunch of techies together over beers without the conversation ranging all over the place (it was great to catch up with some folks I haven’t seen in a while), but we did indeed talk about SharePoint in the cloud.

Some of the more interesting takeaways for me…

Having servers in the cloud where novice developers can’t break things very easily (the sandbox is *supposed* to make that the case) means that the number of developers expected to start working with SharePoint over the next 3 to 5 years may be more possible. As more and more techies jump onto the SharePoint bandwagon – it’s everywhere, don’t you know – we have the danger of even more horribly badly implemented solutions than we’ve had in the past. SharePoint is a truly huge beast and it takes a *very* long time to get good with it. By adding a protective barrier between SharePoint and these newbies, the ecosystem may grow more safely and even faster.

The possibility of increased uptime because “the cloud” is a dedicated service (we were generally lumping together Office365 with FPWeb in the conversation tonight, but there are other good shops as well) with highly trained people running it (we hope, and so we’re told) can certainly be appealing. Interestingly, no one I talk to really seems to care about the “money back guarantee” behind Office365. After all, if it’s down, it’s down, and if your content goes missing, the money you get back certainly won’t cover it.

Finally, as we went around the table, it was interesting that even in a relatively small group there are very different views on what “SharePoint in the cloud” means as well as the impact it may have on each of us. The small-shop, high end consultants worry about developing in Office365’s sandbox and what it takes away; the partners who develop products see issues when it comes to licensing and as well as new opportunities; and of course there’s me, thinking that the cloud doesn’t change a heck of a lot about how I think of SharePoint, though there may be more people interested in the courses I teach at USPJA.

It was great to join in the banter with Ian Dicker, Ryan Thomas, Rob Windsor (Rob is infiltrating the US from his native Canada and his incursions have not gone unnoticed. First BASPUG last night and then CWASOS tonight.), Mike Gilronan, and Claire D. Willett, Ben Jones, and David Wihl from SoftArtisans. Unfortunately I was a little late and missed my pal Sadie Van Buren who had to cut out before I got there.

And no, there was no BAITR tonight, at least not at my end of the table.

p.s. Claire called it both CWACOS *and* CWASOS, so I’m right either way. She and Ben want it to be a monthly thing, so stay tuned if you’re in the Boston area…

Last Thursday Was a Very Good Day

Last Thursday was indeed a very good day. I got to do [at least] four great things:

  • I wrapped up some cool jQuery/SPServices/jQueryUI-based functionality to enhance a site which uses workflows extensively. The functionality allows us to add dialog popups which display all the underlying tasks for a running workflow. No postbacks! More on this in a future blog post.
  • I met with Sadie Van Buren (@sadalit) to talk about her SharePoint Maturity Model, which, if you read my post entitled Applause for Sadie Van Buren’s SharePoint Maturity Model, you know I think may actually be competing with sliced bread for greatness. As cool as it already is, keep an eye on the site and what Sadie’s up to, as there’s more to come.
  • I met Claire Willett (@clairedwillett) from SoftArtisans (Sadie and I also had lunch with Claire and the CEO of SoftArtisans, David Wihl – it’s great to connect sharp people then stand back and see what happens!). Claire’s tweets (as @SoftArtisans) and posts caught my eye a while back and I wanted to find out more about what SoftArtisans is all about.
  • I got a demo of SoftArtisan’s OfficeWriter and Pylon products from their team and was *very* impressed. You should definitely check out their stuff.

If there is one great benefit to being a Microsoft MVP for SharePoint (yup, I just mentioned it – for context), it’s the fact that it opens some doors to these types of discussions. I love talking about what I do with SharePoint and getting to do so with new people and hear different perspectives is primo.

Watch for follow-on posts about SoftArtisans’ OfficeWriter product (awesome) and Sadie’s SharePoint Maturity Model (awesome) in the days ahead.