SharePoint: It’s Not a Gap, It’s Room for An Ecosystem

October 15, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Posted in collaboration, Content Management, Microsoft, Microsoft SharePoint, portals | 2 Comments

There’s an old coding joke: when presented with a bug in your program you try to pretend it is intentional by saying “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!”  I’m reminded of that when told about the rich ecosystem Microsoft has nurtured around SharePoint 2007.  More information is coming out about the parts of SharePoint where a sophisticated enterprise has to look outside of what is in the box, such as our half day of sessions at Catalyst entitled “SharePoint: Fixing a Hole Where the Pain Gets In” or this article today in InternetNews.  And the more that information comes out, the more I think back to that old coding joke, except now it is Microsoft saying “It’s not a gap, it’s room for an ecosystem!”

Now, I am not saying that all gaps in SharePoint are mistakes.  Honestly, I don’t know how many of the gaps filled by the ecosystem are due to intentionally leaving some portions of SharePoint to communities, developers, and vendors and how many simply happened because Microsoft didn’t forsee common needs that it should have.  It’s probably some of both.  The best way to determine that for yourself is to look at the feature sets from the long and growing list of partners filling gaps in SharePoint (not just integrating, but filling gaps) and determine if those are niche needs that a vendor should correctly leave to the ecosystem or basic needs that should be included to fit the way the vendor advertises its product should be used.

Too many SharePoint implementations wind up causing pain because a promising demo or proof of concept led planners to underestimate the difficulty of the full solution.  The same implementation might have been considered a roaring success if time and resources were understood upfront and did not follow a winding path with multiple failures before completion.  If you’re in charge of an enterprise-wide SharePoint plan or a specific SharePoint site, you don’t care if a gap in SharePoint is intentional or not. The task for you is to quickly assess what users will need from SharePoint and to set expectations up front that SharePoint out of the box may not get them there.  Determining what combination of built-in SharePoint capabilities, partner products, community-provided bits, and custom in-house coding will be required to deliver the expectations of the users will help paint a realistic picture of the time and resources needed. 

To summarize, perhaps a cartoon (from our Catalyst track) will help:

SP Ecosystem

Note: This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

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  1. […] In my consulting experience I’ve seen a lot of recurring gaps in the platform. Some are weaknesses; some are just open spaces ready to be filled with business functionality. This is the way the Microsoft platform is intended to be, and leaves the rest up to ISVs and consultancies to figure out. When they don’t, end-users get really discouraged. (*Update*: Craig Roths Sharepoint: It’s Not a Gap, It’s Room for an Ecosystem) […]

  2. […] a post over at Knowledge Forward about how SharePoint is not a gap, it’s an ecosystem. It’s  true — there are gaps in the platform that allow third party vendors to build […]


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