Is SharePoint unstoppable, or mostly smoke and mirrors?

By Eric Lai, Computerworld |  Software, collaboration, Microsoft

"80% to 90% of the companies that have licensed SharePoint are actively using it, and the majority are using it broadly," Teper said.

He cites large enterprises with major active SharePoint deployments, including Tyson Foods (104,000 users), Kraft Foods (98,000), Coca-Cola Enterprises (72,000), oil and pharmaceutical companies Teper declined to name all with between 50,000 to 100,000 SharePoint users, and others.

Also, government is a strong user base, he said. "Most of the major military organizations around the world are avid SharePoint users," he said, including the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps.

Teper strenuously denies that SharePoint remains a "throw-in" for many companies looking for a discount.

"If you talk to customers, if you talk to the Microsoft field sales, if you talk to Steve Ballmer, they would all say that SharePoint is one of the lead dogs in any CAL licensing discussion," he said. "We do not see shelfware."

Rosier than reality revenue?

He also strongly denied a more serious charge that had been floating around the analyst community, that said Microsoft allocates discounts given to buyers of the Enterprise CAL suite mostly to products such as Windows Server, Exchange or System Center Configuration Manager, rather than to SharePoint, aiming to pump up SharePoint's revenue to demonstrate the software's momentum.

"I can't reveal accounting stuff but that is absolutely not true," Teper said.

IDC analyst Melissa Webster, who has closely studied SharePoint's sales and user ship figures, said, "I didn't believe them in the beginning, either." But after going over the discount allocation issue with Microsoft "using a very fine-tooth comb," she said she's convinced Microsoft is not inflating its SharePoint revenue.

"As a public company, Microsoft is governed by pretty darn strict laws, that have only gotten stricter," she said. Also, the product groups inside Microsoft are highly-competitive fiefdoms that are unlikely to sacrifice their sales to pump up SharePoint, she said.

Even if SharePoint's actual use today is overstated, most analysts feel the product's impact on the market isn't.

Sampson said SharePoint is a "juggernaut," while DeGroot calls it "the most successful non-core product [core being stuff like e-mail, file and print, etc.] that Microsoft has come up with."

"Microsoft may oversell its success, but that should be considered normal corporate behavior, and there is some fire underneath the smoke," he said.

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