SharePoint 2013 First Impressions

Over the July 21st weekend I managed to get the beta of SharePoint 2013 downloaded. Interesting times as I have been quite eager to see how it goes after the various what-if ideas postings around the net.  Most of the work I have been bought in to do for the last few years as been around SharePoint migration (2003-2007-2010 and soon 2013) so I am gearing my 2013 ‘Discovery’ process around that aspect.

Installation

Installation was pretty seamless for a beta (compared with years ago with things like Biztalk etc).  After 15 years I almost half expect to have problems with beta’s but not many in this case. Nice Job Microsoft.

Although I had to go down the SQL 2008 Express R2 SP 1 download route as wanted to keep everything on one machine as this is a beta. It was almost a case of Déjà vu with SharePoint 2010. Run the splash. Click to install the prerequisites. Now go for Install the Server. Voila!.

Alas no Automatic install of SQL Express as yet for situations such as this, so had to go to get a version from Microsoft’s site (a 6 hour download in Kazakhstan btw) and continued the installation the next morning.

I would say to any developers or SharePoint people out there. It’s evolution not a revolution.  Nothing will scare you – and it will all feel so familiar. Almost like a free upgrade on your airline seating. Nice, Cozy and somewhat unexpected.

Features

I think that some of the newer attention grabbing features are things that would need to be governed very tightly indeed. And I would honestly only see a small percentage of these ‘Cool New Shiny Things’ being taken up by large businesses without a very detailed demand management process. Governance is the key to implementation of enterprise applications and frameworks like this. Our maturity of Information Architecture and its implementation by using Sharepoint should be driven by this.

A few open thoughts on what I have looked at so far:-

Branding

Maybe its me, but two things spring to mind when I see the 2013 beta branding.
One. it is very nice and clean – very Metro.
Two. It reminds in some inner sense of SharePoint Portal Server 2001.

But thank heavens for better customizable UI. My designers will be happy.  Hell! they can even use Dreamweaver to brand SharePoint sites. How much of a shock is that?

Skydrive

Microsoft Skydrive Live

I can understand why Microsoft have had to do this – to complete against Dropbox for the Enterprise (box.net anyone? ) but really – from personal experience in large enterprises (especially with regard to Oil/Gas and banking enterprises). I dont see this as a major feature. If anything its more scary for the non techies. Can you image a company having its HR information like employee departure information being passed out. I think not. I’ve the legal fallout of such mishaps.

So it’s an addon, and having it out of the box so as to speak. I am doubtful its use other than to push the ‘Hey were microsoft – we do cloud / Azure. This is the first thing I would turn off.  We have enough issues from a legality and political point of view internally without having the option to have the option to store data outside the environment.  Also – most places in the world are not inLondon,New York,South Korea and our bandwidth is severely limited (painful mostly) so, no thank you not right now.

App store

SharePoint App Store

A mixed bag on this really. I appreciate the idea behind having a corporate App Store. But this must governed very tightly. Anyone whos had to design run and manage an applications portfolio for a large company will understand this.

From what I see, business applications should be driven by Business Requirements, and managed through a demand management process, which is completely encapsulated away from the Intranet Content Administrators (ICA) and users. Without having this level of governance in place would lead to a complete mess, which at some point someone will have to come in and clean up and cause departmental political issues just to straighten it out.

Search

Well this is a big hidden win. SharePoint 2013 now combines the previous search aspect with FAST Search as part of one product.  Document Previews out of the box. This makes life a bit easier when trying to explain search to businesses.

Before:

“So this SharePoint thingy can search and find my documents like google yes?”
“Yes, built in – out of the box”
“Nice, but you want us to buy another product called search to do a slightly better search and show previews.”
“It’s not as simple as that but yes”

After:

“So this SharePoint thingy can search and find my documents like google yes?”
“Yes, built in – out of the box”
“Nice, but you want us to buy another product called search to do a slightly better search and show previews.”
“No need, its out of the box”

2013 Search

SharePoint 2013 Search Architecture

Offline My Site Document Access and Storage

So what’s new? I know. You’re are thinking Groove / Workspace? Correct. Well its just got so much easier. Your users can now synchronize their existing My Site document libraries with their local drive. This actually encourages users to use SharePoint at their storage medium instead of Shared Drives or local storage.

Friendly URLs

Ability to build the friendly URLs from termsets. I.e. HR – Recruitment – internal posting – security advisor thus having link like home.mycompany.com/hr/posting/SecurityAdvisorJobs instead of some cryptic path home.mycompany.com/hr/posting/listjobs.aspx#/ID=12862352&Source=http%3A%2978383 etc.

Image Renditions

This will have a nice impact on GIS systems where a thumbnail of the overall rendition can be displayed instead of the full file. And if you dont work with GIS systems. believe me, the data storage for this area of Business is huge.

Migration

More thoughts to follow as I delve deeper. Next I am going to see how well a simple Migration from SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 works to SharePoint 2013 Beta

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