BPCUK Keynote by Chris Johnson, Microsoft Senior Technical Product Manager, SharePoint

Following a trio of Microsoft marketing videos, Steve Smith of Combined Knowledge (and host of the European SharePoint Best Practices Conference) provided some brief welcoming remarks.  Steve shared that the conference attendees represent “25 countries plus,” indicating that last-minute registrations are still rolling in.  Conference speakers also represent a worldwide base, and Steve mentioned that given the number of speakers here this week, many had to be limited to just a single session.  Steve then addressed the construction that’s going on just outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (just across the street from Westminster Abbey), apologizing for the inconvenience to attendees and saying that he decided to go to “the source of the problem” for an explanation. 

Steve Smith and the Queen Mum

At this point, an impersonator of the Queen took the stage and, in the humorous exchange which followed, explained that “a small family wedding” would be taking place soon, hence the construction of viewing stands and such.  At Steve’s request, the “Queen” then introduced keynote speaker Chris Johnson, Microsoft Senior Technical Product Manager, SharePoint.

Chris began his keynote with a discussion of the current momentum around SharePoint, saying “SharePoint is doing very well.”  Backing up that statement, Chris shared the following statistics: 70% of enterprise customers use SharePoint; there is $1.3 billion in business for SharePoint; SharePoint powers more than 2,000 .com sites; two out of every three Information Workers have SharePoint; Gartner and Forrester analysts rank SharePoint as the leader in all workloads; and 16,000 partners have already signed up for Office 365.  Speaking to how this momentum relates to developers, Chris referenced a recent survey indicating that, were a developer to “tick a box [saying] that you have SharePoint skills, you get paid 11% more.” 

Microsoft's Chris Johnson keynotes the 2011 European SharePoint Best Practices ConferenceDiscussing Microsoft’s vision for the future of productivity, Chris explained the goal of providing the best productivity experience imaginable, up to and including offering “the cloud on your terms, when you’re ready, if you’re ready … and not just forcing it down your throats.”  Speaking to the “best productivity experience on the phone,” Chris got in a plug for Windows Phone 7, saying that “one of the things we did there [was to] introduce the Office hub [which] really can change the way you work.”  Chris said that Office 365 will go live in over 30 countries later this year, and is “getting real close” to allowing people “to use the same kind of things that large-scale enterprises can do today.”

Chris then showed a “look back” video demonstrating the history of Microsoft and Office through the decades, before picking up his presentation with the “where to next?” portion of the program.  Chris explained that there are three stages of product lifecycles at Microsoft: the long term vision (3-5 years) in which “planners, visionaries think about what people will want to be doing three to five years from now”; the medium term (2-3 years), “to accomplish what we call ‘big bits'” wherein “we need to change some of the underlying architecture” today in order to accomplish the “big bits” down the road; and the near term (fewer than 2 years),  “where best practices play the biggest role,” as we’re able to see “what folks are doing with our products, helping us plan out the next phase of what we’re going to build.” This near term phase includes what Chris stressed as the importance of the third party experience (including MCMs, MVPs, MCTs, etc. as information channels between the “real world” users and Microsoft). 

Speaking of documentation, Chris said that Microsoft did a “pretty good job [with 2010] in comparison to our last release [when there was] let’s just say not quite as much documentation as you may have liked.”  With the 2010 release, however, there are “tens of thousands of pages of SDK documentation, and around 20,000 pages of protocol documentation.”

Touching on “real world best practices” that Microsoft is folding into their planning process, Chris shared a quote he came across recently: “A service is something you do, not something you ship.”  Speaking to the difference between what’s being learned in the Office 365 effort, as compared to the traditional Microsoft model of shipping products, Chris said that “a service is up 100% of the time, [and] people expect updates regularly … we have to get used to doing that.”

Chris touched on the “three levels of SharePoint Online,” the physical aspects, VM roles, and services.  Chris explained that “each role runs a set of services,” and that a Grid Manager provisions, manages, and balances everything out.  Tying this in to how it all relates to best practices in the real world, Chris explained that “we’ve learned a lot about … massive scale datacenter management, automated deployment and management, build to build upgrade, smart routing, and disaster recovery, [and] we’ve rolled the things we’ve learned back into our planning process to make things easier for everybody.”

Wrapping up with a “look ahead” video featuring lots of cool virtual desktop (and related) stuff, Chris then summarized how best practices apply to how Microsoft thinks about future products in three steps, including: envisioning, real world learning (“what we’re doing and you’re doing as well”), and folding the resulting experience into the planning and product lifecycles.


Read our complete coverage of the European SharePoint Best Practices Conference:

Apr 11 2011, 07:38 AM

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