Fresh on the heels of yesterday’s keynote at the Worldwide Developer Conference Apple showcased their new support of Microsoft Exchange 2007 in the productivity apps (Mail, iCal, Address Book) for their forthcoming OS release Snow Leopard. Apple, not Microsoft, is the only operating system to offer free Exchange support (in Windows you have to buy Outlook). They also didn’t slouch on the features available.
- Syncing Notes, Tasks, and mail.
- Folders included in Mail interface.
- Free/busy support in iCal.
- Room booking support in iCal.
- Searching the GAL from Address Book.
- Includes contact groups.
There has always been Microsoft Entourage, but only this year did they beta Entourage connecting with Exchange 2007 web services which is the recommended method over MAPI. Most likely Apple will beat Microsoft in building the first client that connects solely through Exchange web services (which is why 2003 won’t be supported in Snow Leopard). On top of that the new iPhone 3GS will also support data encryption which is apparently an enterprise request.
When you add on the fact that both Outlook Live (the successor to Outlook Web Access) and SharePoint 2010 will support browsers other than Internet Explorer you now have (almost) complete platform independence with your line of business applications. For everything else you can use Boot Camp free in the Mac OS or use VMWare Fusion or Parallels. It is exciting to see great technologies such as Exchange, SharePoint, and Apple OS work seamlessly together.
In my short time as a SharePoint consultant I’ve come across three major barriers to implementing the solution. Mind you, this isn’t only relegated SharePoint but any tool, system, or process implemented in the enterprise. While each of them could vary in degree they all exist in some form of a SharePoint implementation.
Politics are often the first road block encountered when bringing a tool like SharePoint into the enterprise. Someone becomes sold on the platform usually in IT but sold to executives shortly afterward, and then the backlash begins. The first to bring argument against the technology are those who monitor and/or administer legacy systems. The BroadVision/Notes/etc team are not keen on having “their” application moved into a new platform and potentially turned off. SharePoint becomes the hardest to sell to these individuals. Instead of jumping on the new technology train they fear the loss of their job and will fight it to the end.
Usually an enterprise class technology will make it pass the political barriers, because some executive (should have) been sold on it and pushes it through. The next group of people who become change averse are the end user or information worker as Microsoft calls them. These are the people that are being told that the file share is not the way to store and collaborate anymore. Often times frustration ensues, and many people don’t care to see how much better SharePoint can potentially do their processes and fight it.
This is a stage where “quick wins” are important. During this phase the SharePoint implementation team take an existing process that was cumbersome and error prone and do something like automate it with workflow. They could also make the Sarbanes-Oxley compliance team by showing auditing. Here you try and bite off a little bit, show improvement, and these people who benefit become evangelists for the product. The most effective sales person inside of a company is another co-worker.
The technology itself can become a barrier if it is not planned wisely. Let’s say you being to roll out the technology, and it’s painfully slow because you have SQL issues. The resulting effect could turn many potential users into quick haters. They then respond that “it’s too slow to use” and it becomes a hard stigma to overcome. It is important that the technological implementation is thoroughly assessed and implemented before training and implementation begins, because when the implementation starts it’s very important to set a precedent of reliability.
There is another technological barrier that is actually more cultural but very related. There will be people who instantly grab onto the technology and want it to do everything for them. These projects often can creep into an implementation and push a project off its timeline and sideline its overall implementation and adoption. It’s very important to have a project plan that is detailed in scope and people involved that want to see it saw through. Getting other ideas to use SharePoint is great, but not when it slows down an entire project.
The Microsoft SharePoint team has announced on their official blog the following amazing statement (emphasis added):
“To ensure the best possible experience across multiple browsers we’re focusing our SharePoint 2010 engineering efforts on targeting standards based browsers (XHTML 1.0 compliant) including Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3.x. running on Windows Operating Systems. In addition we’re planning on an increased level of compatibility with Firefox 3.x and Safari 3.x on non-Windows Operating Systems. Due to this focus Internet Explorer 6 will not be a supported browser for SharePoint Server 2010.”
Amazing! Even IE6 is seen as a dead technology by Microsoft’s standards. Hopefully with news like this and Windows 7 pre-release excitement the browser might finally be relegated to the hall of technological mistakes. They also announced the WCM features in the next version will allow much greater control over the markup which may finally make SharePoint a real candidate for WCM for public-facing sites!
The announcement does also focus that the technological requirements will be all 64 bit and based on Windows 2008 as the host platform.