Steve Gaitten of Bamboo Solutions really caused a ruckus last week with a blog post entitled "SharePoint is Going Away". Besides a flurry of blog posts from other SharePoint community members, I got several earfuls from colleagues at this weekend's SharePoint Saturday NYC (which was a great success, by the way, thanks to some fantastic organizers).
Honestly, I'm not sure where I stand on the matter. I agree with most commentators that the post's title is clearly meant to be as inflammatory as possible, especially when compared to the content of the post. So SharePoint wasn't featured prominently at the recent Microsoft World Partner conference. Okay, and…? I'm sure many of Microsoft's mature technologies weren't singled out for special treatment (and SharePoint, 10 years old at this point, is mature. Growing but mature).
Where I do agree with Gaitten is that SharePoint as we have known it may be changing. I don't believe Microsoft's cloud initiative is a passing fancy. I firmly believe it's the way forward for them, and they're going to give it their all or go down trying. Steve Jobs is right when he says we're entering the "post PC" era, and while Jobs is referring primarily to consumer systems, I continue to see the consumerization of business computing as mobile connected devices continue to make their way into businesses as equal partners. Business users are coming to expect constant availability of data, and putting your data in the cloud makes that much easier and cheaper to achieve.
So what does the cloud mean for SharePoint? Nothing really. It becomes a part of Office 365, on par with Exchange, and we continue to use it to facilitate a wide variety of business processes and needs. It's the same, but different. Since I've never been a big fan of the practice of pushing the SharePoint brand onto end users, this new downplaying of the brand may actually work out better in my estimation. Sometimes we forget that users don't care what the tool is, they care what problem the solution solves (and rightly so). To them, it's the Vacation Calendar, not SharePoint. By de-emphasizing the SharePoint brand, maybe we'll be able to focus more on deploying solutions instead of platforms.
I think a lot of the uproar boiled down to SharePoint people being told they're not that special anymore, and not liking it. That's an understandable reaction, and I'm sure the Exchange folks are feeling the same thing right now.
SharePoint may not be the child prodigy anymore, but all child prodigies grow up eventually, and the good ones continue to create beautiful things in adulthood, many times as part of a group. Whether you're solo or in a band, it doesn't matter. The key is to remain relevant, and I think SharePoint has that covered.