Should I Plan on Upgrading to SharePoint 2010 and How Soon?

by Richard Harbridge on March 30, 2010

This is the question that so many businesses, and SharePoint stakeholders (those involved in a current, or future SharePoint implementation) are asking. The answer is always ‘it depends’.

My answer/warning to all businesses: “Much faster than you might expect or think.”

What I am going to explain will not change the fact that the answer to the question “when should we upgrade or plan on upgrading” is still going to be ‘it depends’.

Here are some simple reasons why it depends:

  • How ‘successful’ has your current SharePoint implementation been?
    Is it providing measurable business value right now to the business? Is it a critical system?
  • What is the current skill level related to SharePoint in your business?
    What about your SharePoint support team? Your administrators? Your developers?
  • In 2010 what are your business and technology goals?
    How closely do these relate to new functionality, or capabilities in SharePoint 2010, or Office 2010?
  • How stable and up to date is your current environment?
    Do you already have solid deployment policies and schedules? Are you keeping up with the cumulitive updates or at least SP2?
  • Do you have lots of custom code or customizations in your SharePoint environment?
    How critical are these customizations?
  • Etc…

Okay, okay we get it. So it depends on quite a few things, and it’s not an easy judgement to make. ‘Should we’ or ‘shouldn’t we’ will require a fair amount of understanding and analysis if we want to make the best decision in terms of when. For anyone interested there is a ton of material already out there on this topic (and we haven’t hit RTM yet) .

Why is it a matter of When and not If?

  • It’s really hard to see any down sides (aside from the upgrade) of going from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010.
    I have been looking all over for people who have negative things to say about SharePoint 2010 vs SharePoint 2007 and trust me there really isn’t much factual/relevant material out there. Go ahead, try it yourself.
  • It’s still a challenge to compete with Microsoft’s SharePoint Platform offering, especially if you have already invested in it.
    Since this is an article that is called Upgrading I am assuming you have already invested considerable time and money into your SharePoint environment, or related Microsoft technology so you already have a strong vested interest.
Personal Note: There are other great systems and technologies out there that are experiencing tremendous growth as well. I never encourage a head in the sand mentality so make sure you are still aware of them as selecting the right technology is often better than making the wrong technology fit your business needs.


Why should we expect it sooner rather than later?

There are a number of reasons why I believe you, your organization, and your friends should expect SharePoint 2010 sooner in your environment/business rather than later.

  1. The SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2007 explosion.
    For me personally I was blown away when our clients who were just barely biting into SharePoint 2003 immediately started pushing and asking for SharePoint 2007 a short time after it’s release. They were surprised as well. In many organizations where technology takes multiple years to get approved and implemented SharePoint 2007 was adopted and implemented faster than any other enterprise platform historically for them.
  2. Far more documentation, guidance, and support from the start.
    In SharePoint 2003 to 2007 days one of the biggest issues was not having enough documentation and support out there for Developers, Administrators, and End Users. For 2010 we have an enormous community with hundreds of User Groups, Conferences, and a much larger dedicated/focused team at Microsoft. This not only means it will be easier to jump in on 2010, but it will also lead to far less horror stories, issues, and failed implementations.
  3. Market saturation and job growth.
    The number of people now with “SharePoint” on their resume blows me away. It’s not just Administrators, Developers, or Architects. Many end users list it when they list experience with Excel, or Word. The demand for people who understand and can use it effectively is constantly growing and will spike hard once SharePoint 2010 begins being implemented. It’s not just about SharePoint. Many related fields have grown considerably as well.
  4. Significantly improved employee awareness and skill.
    SharePoint 2007 has been going fairly strong for quite a few years now. In almost every Intranet review I have read over half of them run on SharePoint and mention SharePoint multiple times. Employees everywhere have heard about SharePoint and many of them have already used it. So no longer is it as unknown or new to them. This will make adoption and usage much easier since it being new and the fears this brings considerably complicates enterprise adoption. Let’s take a specific example of familiarity with permissions (think facebook security). Permissions were always in the IT domain historically but now more and more end users/business users are familiar with how Permissions work, and due to needing to better understand privacy in their personal electronic lives will have an easier time understanding the importance of privacy in their professional electronic work.
  5. More powerful Upgrade Process.
    Being able to upgrade the back end, and then the front end seperately (within reason) will make the upgrade far easier for many organizations to tackle and implement compared to SharePoint 2003 to 2007. Add the fact that it’s not using .Net 4 and that there is no support (as stated clearly by Microsoft) for Beta, or RC to RTM and there should be significantly less ‘documented’ upgrade issues. I am also going to leverage the earlier point on this one related to greater documentation and support from both Microsoft and the Community as making this a much easier process to understand and execute effectively.
  6. Significantly improved Administration.
    There are wonderful new features for Administration in SharePoint 2010. It’s architected better to be more flexible and scalable. Things like it’s health monitoring/analyzer baked in, read and write to LOB systems (and AD if desired), the fact that Usage Logging and Reporting’s schema is being fully documented, and finally the fact that it uses 64 bit, and Windows 2008 adds considerable value. Typically these are the last people who want to upgrade (since they have to do alot of the upgrade work), but the promise of many of the new features and how they can make administration more effective is a strong motivator.
  7. Much easier starting/entry point for Developers.
    Visual Studio 2010 has far more SharePoint integration, and ease of development baked in. You can have SharePoint 2010 running on a Windows 7 box. (Huge deal. As this is supported by MS etc. This means many people with Windows 7 but no Windows Servers can still play with and start with SharePoint Development.) Another big advantage for entry level is the improved debugging and how easy it is to turn this one and use it. Then of couse there is a much larger community, Microsoft support, and new (better) ways of interacting with the API’s and Objects in SharePoint (such as the Client Object Model , LINQ to SharePoint , Silverlight , etc) will make far more flexible customizations possible. SharePoint Designer 2010 is light years from where it was in 2007. Expect huge adoption of SharePoint Designer 2010 from ‘developers which will lead to far more rapidly developed and deployed (low risk) solutions to meet business needs.
  8. Office 2010, and Windows 7.
    These are the last two and certainly powerful factors for why it will be upgraded faster. Windows 7 is already becoming the next de-facto standard for many organizations. It’s success will continue to grow along with it’s enterprise adoption. Factor this with the fact that Office 2010 has amazing new features which will help get it’s adoption in the enterprise and the considerably improved integration with Office and SharePoint (imo) and you get the perfect formula for more pressure on upgrading your SharePoint environment FAST (pun intended as FAST has amazing features/functionality that might be another motivator).

These are just a few of the reasons why it will happen sooner rather than later. Did I miss other big points? Let me know.

It’s not all wonderful things though.

The biggest points for caution would be that SharePoint 2007 is typically ungoverned, messy, and almost a viral infection for the enterprise. This means that the structure, taxonomy, and content complexity will add up to more concerns and difficulties on the upgrade. In fact the content, structure and governance are by far the biggest reasons an upgrade will take more time or be delayed. {In my opinion anyways.}

Don’t forget that SharePoint 2010 will demand even more careful planning, thought, and adjustment to ensure it doesn’t turn into the wild west, or unorganized chaos. Expect it sooner rather than later though. 🙂

SharePoint 2010 is coming. Will you be ready?
Richard Harbridge

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