Friday, November 11, 2011

European SP Conference Exceeded Expectations

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Wow, time flies when you're having fun!

During the past few weeks I have been on a very exciting SharePoint journey during which I travelled almost 39 000 kilometres and took part in SharePoint activities in Istanbul, Berlin and New York.

Each stop was a very different experience and each SharePoint activity offered a unique view into the SharePoint world.

The European SharePoint Conference was the highlight of this tour and exceeded all my expectations.

I have been to many conferences before and I can without a doubt say that the European SP conference was out of the ordinary.

A few highlights of the conference include the following:

· It was clear that we have moved on from the ‘Understand SharePoint’ topics to ‘Let’s provide solutions’ topics.

Conference content and vendor exhibitions were aimed at how to extend SharePoint with custom development and 3rd Party value-add features in order to provide better solutions. Strategic thinking was the order of the day and I am sure that over the course of the 3 days a significant number of industry leaders had to at some point shift their thinking from product to solution. For me as a solutions architect it is very exciting to experience how well established SharePoint is in the industry and that we are now comfortable enough to move on to a next phase in the SharePoint lifecycle.

As an example of how far we’ve come, a few years ago we had topics like ‘What’s new in SharePoint workflow development’. This year at the EUSPC 2011 we had a SharePoint Shootout session for workflow during which various workflow products were compared in order to help architects and decision makers to understand the differences between the available workflow engines.

· I experienced an instant comradeship between delegates and solid friendships were established

This is without a doubt the most important take-away from the conference. It is normally quite a challenge to ensure we make most of a conference by not allowing for the experience to end at the closing keynote. The SharePint event and other similar social get-togethers provided a great way for us to connect, have a beer (or few) and socialize. I have made friends with SharePoint comrades from around the world and appreciate that we can stay connected and exchange ideas and support one another.

· Great Presentations

The 45 minutes allocated per session was not enough time to provide a proper introduction, do a knowledge transfer and take some questions. Many delegates expressed this concern and I also battled during my presentation to stay within time.

However, the benefit of short sessions is that the audience receive high-impact and to-the-point presentations.

The speakers came from across the world to share their experiences and having 4 simultaneous tracks ensured that a wide spectrum of SharePoint topics were covered.

The presentations are available for download on the conference website.

(The presentations are immediately available to delegates and will be available to the general public after 25 November 2011)

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· Exhibitors showcased valuable solutions applicable to solving real-world challenges

I am very impressed with the products which the vendors showcased. As a solution architect I always try to keep a wide range of SharePoint solution enablers in my toolbox and I am very excited to see that there is a very high industry standard and that the vendors do help us to take SharePoint further through rapid implementation of great add-ons.

· The conference was very well organized

Hats off to Helen, Mary, Declan, Tracy, and the rest of the European SharePoint team for doing a brilliant job in planning and coordinating the event. Everything went very well and I had a great time overall.

Content:

90 presentations were delivered across 4 tracks (IT DM, IT Pro, Dev and Gen). The 4 tracks provided a very rich selection of outstanding topics and at times made it difficult to choose which one of simultaneous presentations to attend. The 60 speakers came from across the globe. There was an obvious variance in the quality of the presentations but some were really good.

What I did pick up from most sessions is the fact that the speakers tend to jump in and start showing code and technical know-how without taking the time to explain to the audience how they can benefit from the feature. I believe it is extremely important for the audience to appreciate the importance and value-ad of a technical discussion before the code syntax is explained. The occasional lack of proper introductions and closing statements could be because the sessions were limited to 45 minutes each.

The presentations are available for download by the public after 25 November on the conference website.

SharePint:

AvePoint hosted a “Red-Party” on the second night of the conference but could only accommodate a limited number of people and many of us who registered for the party were disappointed to find out that we did not collect the entrance tags in time and therefore could no longer attend.

Fortunately on the Tuesday afternoon, in an effort to offer an alternative social gathering for attendees unable to attend the AvePoint party, a SharePint event was organized and co-sponsored by Qorus, Axceler, Newsgator, Metalogix, and HiSoftware. Arrangements were made, flyers were handed out, tweets were sent out, and a few hours later we enjoyed free German beer, great company and awesome music at the AM to PM Bar located in Hackescher Markt, one of Berlin’s coolest locales.

Many thanks to Qorus, Axceler, Newsgator, Metalogix, and HiSoftware for organizing and sponsoring the great evening!

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Solution Enablers:

I was very impressed by the products and services showcased by the exhibitors. It is always important to understand when to develop custom solution parts vs. when to make use of 3-rd party solution enablers. And having the right mix between technical presentations and a wide range of exhibitors at the conference gives me the confidence that SharePoint solution architects will take a step back and carefully consider how a mixture of SharePoint OOB features, 3rd-party products and custom development can solve business requirements.

Once again, think “solution” and not single product.

See the section ‘Interesting solution enablers’ at the bottom of this blog for a brief overview of a few of the products available.

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Immediate Actions:

There are thousands who did not have the opportunity to attend the conference. It is our responsibility to take the conference into the workplace and I cannot wait to share the relevant knowledge with my team and local community.

I am already in touch with a number of speakers, vendors and delegates and I will trial / explore some of the products, download and research some of the presentations and use my findings to conduct at least 5 geek-talk-round-table discussions with my team in order to see how we can benefit from the conference content.

Conclusion:

Overall a very well organized conference with great structured content relevant to solving problems which we currently experience in the SharePoint industry.

A fantastic vibe between conference delegates, great relationships established and an absolute great experience.

Well done to everyone who participated and please continue with your efforts to share the knowledge and passion for SharePoint with those around you!

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Interesting Solution Enablers:

Qorus Software

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Qorus DocGeneration works with Microsoft SharePoint 2007 / 2010 and Microsoft Word to dramatically reduce the time and effort required to generate complex, customized documents while improving quality, consistency and effectiveness. http://www.qorusdocs.com/

 

SurfRay – Ontolica Search

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Ontolica Search Preview allows you to preview and read documents in any format directly in SharePoint search results, with hit highlighting, and navigation to the most relevant pages in your documents . This reduces search costs and increases user adoption dramatically. http://www.surfray.com/

 

NewsGator

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NewsGator solutions help you overcome business challenges by providing an integrated, behind-the-firewall, social computing platform that supports collaboration, facilitates communication, and improves worker knowledge. http://www.newsgator.com/

 

Kaldeera

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KAF is a tool that allows you to modify the standard SharePoint® forms and create powerful web form-based applications. Hide fields, display "uneditable" fields, grouping and display the information in a more intuitive way adding static text, images, Web Parts, etc. http://www.kaldeera.com

 

GetOrganized

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In brief GetOrganized is a user friendly standard product which organizes e-mails, documents, tasks etc. in a relevant context in order to optimize collaboration and business processes in your company in a simple and efficient way. http://en.getorganized.net

 

Bamboo Solutions

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Bamboo® Solutions provides technologies that augment the SharePoint platform, and more than 60 products that provide a broad range of enhanced capabilities and solutions that maximize the value of SharePoint deployments. http://bamboosolutions.com

 

MetaLogix

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Provides comprehensive content lifecycle management solutions that allow you to easily move data, reduce compliance risk, cut the cost of discovery, reduce storage and simplify management of Microsoft content, whether it’s on-premises or in the cloud. http://www.metalogix.com

 

Axceler

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Axceler provides SharePoint solutions that help the SharePoint management team get the most out of their platform and address the most pressing SharePoint challenges facing enterprises today. Solutions include SharePoint Governance, SharePoint Administration, SharePoint Migration, SharePoint Security, SharePoint Reporting and SharePoint Visibility. http://www.axceler.com

 

HiSoftware

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HiSoftware provides content-aware compliance solutions for both Web and SharePoint® environments that detect private or confidential data and report on violations to ensure compliance with regulatory and other internal policies. http://www.hisoftware.com

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