Microsoft SharePoint software vendors and system integrators are stuck between a rock and a cloud place.
As Microsoft Office 365 and Azure updates increase in velocity, Independent Software Vendor apps are breaking. Moreover, Microsoft customers desperately need a plan on how to get to the Cloud from their System Integrator partner.
I just returned from the Microsoft World Partner Conference 2013 in Houston and, as Microsoft pushes hard to turn into a device powerhouse, larger gaps (opportunities) are appearing in the partner community. Two of the opportunities which are emerging directly impact the SharePoint ecosystem and are somewhat disruptive in nature. These opportunities require SharePoint ISVs and SIs immediate attention. The window is closing… In my opinion, you need to fix this by the end of 2014 or get run over. Most likely you’re already feeling some pain from progressive companies in your particular vertical. Take action now folks!
SharePoint ISV: “My App on Office 365/Azure is broken!”
This was news to me (probably since I don’t write apps and the Fpweb.net Cloud is less volatile) but this is serious business. So as the Microsoft marketing machine gathers momentum and pushes more folks into the Cloud, ISVs are writing their apps for O365 and Azure. All is fine until the next version of the Microsoft cloud is pushed into production and here’s the rub: The ISVs aren’t getting any notice from Microsoft that a change is coming and what changes have been made. Change management is kind of important when writing code. Redmond engineering is running in a vacuum right now since Ballmer has dictated faster updates to O365/Azure.
SharePoint TAP Rest in Peace
Remember that thing called the TAP program where the ISVs all got the SharePoint Roadmap for the next 2-3 years and got the code early to test their apps and align with Microsoft? …TAP RIP.
SharePoint ISV Catch 22
I spoke to many small and large SharePoint ISVs who are being eaten alive by their customers. On one hand, their customers expect them to drink the Microsoft Kool Aid and have their apps ready for O365 and Azure. On the other hand, as their customer base migrates into these environments, the ISV app starts out great, but then breaks after a Microsoft update.
And guess who gets the support call? The ISV support line lights up like a Christmas tree and the ticket queue fills up. Thanks Microsoft. Customer is now broken and the ISV has to contact Microsoft for resolution, assemble a tiger team to troubleshoot and write new code that may or may not be on their customer’s need Roadmap. Folks, this is how you go out of business. Constantly having to put out fires and not being able to plan for the future, listen to customer needs or innovate.
Don’t Be SharePoint ISV Road Kill
I’m a numbers guy and play Blackjack occasionally and it seems Microsoft is ‘doubling down’ on their Cloud play. They are now offering the field 2x sales commissions to get folks into the Cloud. They aren’t going to slow down for anyone, including their ISVs.
Get ahead of them or get run over.
ROI and Change Management in the SharePoint Cloud
Well, I’m a business sort of guy and believe in both Change Management and ROI. ISVs and their customers need both to be successful. You need a SharePoint Cloud environment where you control the updates being pushed to your production environment. You need a test/dev environment where you can see what breaks before it affects your customer. And a profitable company needs to get ROI out of their systems before upgrading to the next version of a product.
Should a vendor dictate an upgrade? I don’t think so and I know a lot of other CEOs who feel the same way. I heard it from about 30 at WPC last week.
Fpweb.net SharePoint Cloud Hosting Won’t Break Your App
Constant upgrades mean constant disruption and training on new features. I’m OK with a vendor making continuous changes/upgrades, but the ISV or end user should be able to apply them when it makes sense to them. And yes, Fpweb.net works with its ISV partners in just such a way. We patch SharePoint when you give us the nod. We won’t break your app. I invite you to seriously consider increasing your ROI and putting change management back in place with the Fpweb.net Cloud.
SharePoint SI Customers: “How Do I Get to the Cloud?”
If geeks like you and I are murky on some parts of Cloud technology, how do you think your customers feel? They’re confused. They are hearing mixed messages and right now, the loudest voice wins. SharePoint System Integrators are sharing a common story with me – that their revenue is decreasing and they’re losing long time customers to Clouds such as Google, Salesforce and Amazon. So let’s stop the bleeding and start growing again.
SharePoint SI as Cloud Sherpa
System Integrators will start growing again by giving their customers more value in SharePoint. In this case, knowing all your options in the SharePoint Cloud provider arena with solutions such as Office 365, Azure, on-premises or Fpweb.net. They each have pros and cons and it’s your job to know how they are different and guide your customer to the SharePoint Cloud that makes best sense for them.
Hybrid Cloud Model is the Name of the Game
System Integrators are rapidly learning that the Hybrid model is an essential part of their customer’s Cloud Roadmap. Hybrid allows your customer to stay comfortable and test a small Cloud with some of their SharePoint data. Rarely will it make sense for some to go 100% Cloud or commit entirely to a particular platform. More likely a blend of O365, Azure, on-premises or Fpweb.net will make the most business sense. None of these platforms can be all things SharePoint to all people. They each do something really well and by leveraging the best of each, you get a strong SharePoint solution for even the largest of Enterprises.
SharePoint SI, the Hero
You too can wear a cape for a day or longer. It’s so exciting when your customer trusts and relies on you for guidance and advice. And if you’ve been in business, you understand that if you get to this place, your customers are incredibly loyal. Start writing the Cloud Roadmap for them. Once you have trusted Cloud partners to help deliver the service to your customers and you can stitch all the Clouds together, you can proudly display your new certification by ripping open your shirt to reveal SSSI.
Super SharePoint System Integrator. Faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound… you know the rest. Be that guy for your customers.