Monday, 7 June 2010

SharePoint 2010, what people are asking me and what I know. Get some answers

Here are some questions I have been asked about SharePoint. Here are some answers:

What is the difference between 2007 and 2010?

SharePoint 2010 is a significant evolution over 2007, but not a revolution. SharePoint 2007 was a radical change from 2003. This upgrade is much more of a natural evolution, building on the benefits of 2007, adding some new user interface features, and improving some back-end problems.

But there are some significant differences between the two. First SharePoint 2010 has greatly enhanced the web pages it creates. Microsoft has embraced many of the Web 2.0 features popular with sites like Facebook, Flickr, and Google docs. This gives a much more intuitive and seamless user interface. It also means that firms will finally have to upgrade from IE 6 to a 21st Century browser like Firefox 3.5 or IE 7 or later.

Also SharePoint 2010 now only runs on 64 bit servers. Many SharePoint 2007 builds used some or all 32 bit servers. This is no longer possible with SharePoint 2010 and the entire server farm will need to run 64 bit OS.

What impact will moving from 2007 to 2010 have on an organization?

That depends on how big and how customized your existing SharePoint 2007 solution is. If you are using a Out of the Box SharePoint 2007 with maybe a few hundred GB of data storage in SQL Server upgrade will be a matter of building the new server and moving the data over.

If you team has spend significant time creating your own Web Controls you should be able to migrate all to SharePoint 2010, but you will need to test each Web Control. Generally first maybe roll-out a few dozen such features at the most so this may not be a problem, but if you are company which has produced a large number of custom features in MOSS 2007 you could have a real headache.

Perhaps most serious is a SharePoint implementation that is highly customised. If you have written a lot of SharePoint 2007 master pages you can still use them as is in SharePoint 2010. But you then lose the accessibility improvements of 2010. And there is no guarantee that these 2007 master pages will be supported long in to the future. So you will want to get your design team to rebuild your old master pages in to new 2010 master pages using the much improve XHTML.

Microsoft has presented a paper on approach to migration. The key thing is that there is no single path to migration, and you are going to have to decide which strategic approach makes the most sense for your organization.

Also SharePoint 2010 is going to force an upgrade from IE 6. IE 6 is not supported for SharePoint 2010 so if a firm has a lot of IE 6 desktops a desktop refresh and/or upgrade will be in order.

What are new key benefit features of the 2010 output?

SharePoint 2010 has made extensive improvements to the user interface. This will make using and administer SharePoint much easier.

For users SharePoint has added a large number of "Web 2.0" tool and widgets that will make using the tool much easier. In the traditional SharePoint almost everything you did involved needed to send a request back to the server. This is experienced as a blink and reload of the page and has been for years a major complaint of users. SharePoint 2010 users technologies like AJAX to allow you to make changes to your content without having to leave your page.

This will make for a much smoother use of the tool. The user will have a lot more smaller windows popping up on the page rather than having to change pages.

For the administrators and power users SharePoint introduces a top ribbon like the Office 2007 and Office 2010 ribbon. This, and a more logical central administration tool will make it much easier to remember what are key tools and where they are.

SharePoint has also enhanced its soical networking tools and metadata tools. It will now be possible to get everyone in the company using the same hierarchy of key concepts to tag their data.

What will 2007 experts need to learn for 2010?

Experts will find the core of SharePoint 2010 very similiar to SharePoint 2007 and will have very little effort to start creating and editing sites in the new tool. SharePoint 2010 introduces two things that SharePoint experts didn't have to know in 2007. Firstly the user interface uses lots of JavaScript, AJAX and additional Web 2.0 UI tools that Web Developers have been using for years, but which SharePoint developers could be happily unaware of. This all changes, and the SharePoint expert should learn more about XHTML, JavaScript, and AJAX.

SharePoint 2010 also provides a large number of ECM tools that earlier version did not have. From a central hub it is now possible to create and deploy fileplans throughout the Enterprise. This is old stuff of traditional EDRMS and ECM developers but it totally new in SharePonit 2010 and will require some learning.

The largest change will be learning to work with the ribbon, but that is no harder than going from Office 2003 to Office 2007.

Will companies be able to avoid an upgrard and stay with 2007?

Yes, for a while. Probably it is not a good idea to migrate until the first or second service pack are released. But in time the upgrade is inevitable. SharePoint 2007 should not be looked at as a product like Windows XP which will have a decade long life. SharePoint 2007 will almost certainly be out of service by 2015. So sooner or later all firms will have to update.

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