The first day of breakout sessions, hands-on labs and Ask The Experts of Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011 has just concluded here in Anaheim, California. It’s been a day of some insights into the future of SharePoint, a lot of enthusiasm on SharePoint ecosystems and partners and a few deep dives on more advanced SharePoint topics. Here’s my recap on things I felt are important and interesting enough to share.
Keynote: Nothing much new but it wasn’t that boring
Keynote this year was actually quite good. It was short at around 90 minutes, so not too many demos or speakers. Pacing was good and I didn’t get the feeling of hyperventilation like I did while watching Build 2011 keynote in September. That was awful. Also, compared to TechEd North America (2011) keynote, the speakers didn’t try to talk about everything but kept the focus to a few chosen main topics.
Jared Spataro, Director of Product Management for SharePoint announced the first major update to Office 365 would be released before end of year. I’m thinking November, since December is often too packed with other activities (think: Christmas) and would leave us IT Pro’s not enough time to divulge all the new features and functionality. No timeframe for other releases or a feature list of what might be included with the update.
Finally: BCS for the cloud
Only one new technical feature was mentioned as being part of the upcoming Office 365 update: Business Connectivity Services (BCS) from Office 365 to On-Premises and Azure. Later it was confirmed during Andrew Connell’s SPC410 session, that developers will get real access to the BCS object model. What that means based on my understanding, is that we can and should use Visual Studio to package BCS models, rather than point-n-click stuff live on production with SharePoint Designer.
With the addition of BCS to SharePoint Online, we’ll finally – and hopefully – get a solid approach to integrating content from WCF, SQL Server and custom .NET-assemblies to and from the cloud. I’ll make sure to try out the new features when they become available. It will be interesting to see how BCS can be used in terms of performance, scalability and most importantly, how securely with my on-premises data.
Microsoft Certified Architect for SharePoint
It was also announced that MCA, or Microsoft Certified Architect certification would be more closely aligned with SharePoint. I have mixed thoughts on this: due to our smaller economy in Finland the recognition of MCM (Microsoft Certified Master) and MCA is next to zero. It also seems challenging to balance the costs of attending either of these premium-level certification programs while trying to testify the added value to your existing customers.
As was known before, MCM is required for MCA. In order to become an MCA, one would first have to pass all four SharePoint 2010 certification exams (2 for IT Pro’s, 2 for developers), then attend the 3 week MCM training, pass the MCM exam and finally apply and prepare for the MCA program.
The cost of attending the MCM training program is $18,500 + $125 for the application fee. I happened to notice that starting in January, 2012 MCM for SharePoint is only one week of required training in Redmond (on-site), followed by 10 weeks of training remotely with scheduled classes (off-site).
MCA has a list price of $7,500 + $125 for the application fee. It’s a lot of money for something most customers don’t yet have awareness for. For more details on MCA and what it requires, see here.
SPC 2012 in Las Vegas
I don’t think anyone had even a glimmer of hope to learn anything about SharePoint vNext during SPC 2011. It came as no surprise that the next SharePoint Conference will be held in 2012, from November 12th to 16th. I reckon this is close enough for a public beta of SharePoint vNext to be available near the end of 2012. Once again I’m simply extrapolating from the information floating around online and don’t have any hard facts to back this.
Why SPC 11 then?
I’ve been wondering why Microsoft decided to organize SharePoint Conference this time of the year, and why not simply wait until 2012 to announce something new and fresh. Sometimes I can’t escape the feeling that SharePoint 2010, as we know it by now, has been around for almost two years if you include all the beta bits and SPC 09. For us IT Pro’s and developers this is a long time and secretly I was hoping to hear or see something more solid on the future roadmap of Office 365, Azure or SharePoint in general. I guess the next opportunity to see new and shiny things is around November for the Office 365 service update, and then during Visual Studio vNext launch later in 2012.
It seems Office 365 doesn’t play that big of a part during the conference. The lack of deep dive technical Office 365 sessions is also a bit of a mystery, since one would think that moving to the cloud and have everyone deploy solutions based on SharePoint Online and Azure would be a priority by now.
All in all, reflecting day 1 of SPC 11 it’s been better than TechEd North America this year, and definitely better than TechEd Europe in late 2010. Looking at the upcoming sessions for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I’m confident I’m leaving with a lot of new ideas and stuff to work on.