Microsoft has said that SharePoint's 2013 version will be the last of the product's "big bang" upgrades coming at 3-year intervals. Instead, both the on-premise version and SharePoint Online will be updated much more frequently. SharePoint Online will be upgraded every 90 days, according to Microsoft. It's not clear what the release cycle will be for SharePoint on premise, but Gartner believes it could be every year or two years. This could represent problems both for Microsoft and for SharePoint customers accustomed to the previous upgrade cycle, according to Mann.
"This is a huge change that completely reverses how they've developed the product in the past," Mann says.
It could be particularly problematic for customers who have hybrid deployments of SharePoint on premise and SharePoint Online if the two versions of the product have different update time-tables and get out of sync feature-wise, he says.
Also, there are still customers on the 2007 version of SharePoint, and even for those on SharePoint 2010 with plans to migrate to SharePoint 2013, the transition may not be completed until 2014 or 2015.
In SharePoint 2013, Microsoft is also introducing a new application development platform for the product which ISVs and enterprise developers must become acquainted with.
The new platform is consistent with Web application standards, and it has been designed make the creation of SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2013 applications simpler, more flexible and more secure. A new application store is also being launched along with the new development model.
SharePoint 2013 Needs Governance
SharePoint 2013 adopters should focus on governance, advises Toyota's Chong, so that policies address what users can or can't do with the product.
"Set up a governance structure to define policy for use cases, for operations. That'll help you be successful," Chong says. Toyota currently uses SharePoint 2010 and is testing SharePoint 2013.
The governance board should be made up of a cross-functional array of company managers from different departments, and it should anticipate and focus on how employees will use SharePoint, and give them autonomy, according to Chong.
The governance board should emphasize a common look and feel and uniform branding across SharePoint sites, as well as a consistent definition of data. It should also cover the entire SharePoint adoption process, including roadmap, definition of solutions, design, code approval and deployment, Chong says.
With the expansion of enterprise social features in the product, this type of collaboration and document sharing will increase, along with the number of employees engaging in it, says Chris McNulty, SharePoint general manager at Quest, a SharePoint ISV owned by Dell.