Channel Call

SharePoint Joins the Microsoft Pantheon

SharePoint's sales now put it alongside Office and Windows in any discussion having to do with Microsoft's technology and sales successes.

After the June 2006 Microsoft Tech-Ed conference, Redmond Channel Partner ran a cover story highlighting the editors' choices for the most exciting technology opportunities for partners over the next few years. Some haven't panned out yet (Compute Cluster Server), have shipped too recently to make a splash (Longhorn Terminal Services) or haven't come out (Hyper-V).

But we led the package with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007, and, as they say in politics, that product has outperformed.

At the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2008 this spring in Seattle, Chairman Bill Gates told attendees that MOSS has reached the $1-billion-per-year sales threshold and should hit 100 million licenses in July. "This is our fastest growing server product we've ever had," said Gates, adding that Windows Server, SQL Server and Exchange Server are Microsoft's only other servers bringing in more than $1 billion in revenues annually.

Part of that success relates to how Microsoft positioned the 2007 version of the product. Microsoft has chosen to use MOSS as infrastructural glue, bringing together better-selling elements of the Microsoft software stack to create collaboration, search and Internet-facing functionality.

That decision propels MOSS sales alongside Windows, Office, Exchange and SQL implementations.

Some partners tell us they love MOSS. Others say they dread it.

The new business opportunities in portal, collaboration and integration projects have been a boon to many. "We've seen tremendous growth in the SharePoint partner base to over 2,500 partners in our SharePoint specializations," Tom Rizzo, Microsoft director for MOSS, says in reference to the Portals and Collaboration Specialization and the Search Specialization.

At the same time, Rizzo says, partners are forging ahead with SharePoint into two new growth areas: developing on MOSS to help customers take advantage of Microsoft's social computing/Web 2.0 capabilities, such as blogs and RSS, and creating SharePoint Internet sites. Wachovia is an example of a customer using SharePoint for Web 2.0-style social networking. Customer wins on the Internet side include Conservation.org, SwissArmy.com, Kroger.com and Fanu.com. "SharePoint is a goldmine for partners," Rizzo says.

On the other hand, the product highlights a burdensome trend for smaller partners in the Dynamics space. As Microsoft moves more of its Dynamics technology onto its infrastructure stack, Dynamics partners find themselves needing to hire additional technical staff to keep up with what, for them, are simply technical changes. Several Dynamics partners have told me they had to add high-priced SharePoint specialists, which was a drag on their bottom lines. They feel they need the new expertise to do the same business, and they haven't all figured out how to leverage the new capabilities to create more business.

Whether it's been positive or negative for individual partners, SharePoint has earned its place in Microsoft's pantheon of legendary products. How are you faring with SharePoint? Tell me your experiences at sbekker@rcpmag.com.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.