Whither SharePoint? Microsoft says no

Microsoft Office chief Julia White

Microsoft Office chief Julia White

ORLANDO – In the shift of everything towards Office 365 and cloud services, Microsoft wants its partners to know that one of the products not so long ago seen as a rising star has not been forgotten.

In a keynote presentation at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference here, Office boss Julia White dismissed rumours that SharePoint had lost its luster at Microsoft as fear, uncertainty and doubt on the part of competitors. But she admitted that FUD may have had some basis in at least perceived truth. After a recent conference, she said, she had no fewer than 420 pieces of feedback lamenting the lack of mention of SharePoint in White’s keynote presentation. Riffing on a theme in that feedback, noting that White only mentioned the product “a couple of times” in her presentation, White did not repeat that faux pas at WPC.

“Today I am here to say: SharePoint, SharePoint, SharePoint, SharePoint! We are absolutely committed to SharePoint,” White told WPC attendees. “We have a fantastic, rock solid, SharePoint 2016 coming out.”

But further details were not forthcoming on the new offering, during a keynote that focused heavily on business intelligence and mobility.

Still, it does seem unlikely that Microsoft would throw SharePoint, not-so-long-ago feted as its fastest-ever product to a $1 billion run rate, under the bus. Especially since Microsoft is very focused on driving partners towards not only “turning on” Office 365 for customers, but making sure those customers “light up” as much of the suite as possible, as in the cloud world, consumption drives profitability.

In a presentation with channel press here at WPC, IDC channel analyst Darren Bibby suggested SharePoint integration as top-of-mind on a list of ways solution providers can add value to their customers’ Office 365 deployments. The enterprise information portal is powerful, but can be complex, and is not the kind of solution that any customer takes “off the shelf,” so drives opportunities for an engagement much more full of lucrative professional services than, say, hosted Exchange.

In a pre-conference interview with ChannelBuzz.ca, Microsoft Partner Network general manager Gavriella Schuster said the company is aiming to make it easier for partners to see how many different components of Office 365, including Exchange, Yammer, Lync or Skype for Business, and SharePoint, are using, and hinted that the company will significantly change its incentives for Office 365 to prioritize them driving customer usage of Office 365, both in terms of breadth and depth.