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SharePoint, Third-Party Vendors Get Good Marks in Forrester Survey

This week's sold-out SharePoint Conference in Anaheim, Calif. began with a Microsoft keynote touting the collaboration product's rapid growth. Now, a new survey from analyst firm Forrester Research is drilling down into the reasons for its rise.

Speaking at a Tuesday conference session titled "The Forrester Survey: Best Practices in SharePoint 2010 Adoption and Migration," Rob Koplowitz, a Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst, said SharePoint has largely been meeting IT and business management expectations in organizations.

Specifically in regard to IT, 79 percent of the Forrester survey's respondents said that SharePoint is meeting their expectations, with 21 percent giving a negative reply. In regard to whether SharePoint is meeting business management expectations, 73 percent said "Yes," while 27 percent said "No."

These results, which were culled from a July poll of "510 IT decision-makers involved with evaluating, specifying, or administering SharePoint," surprised even Forrester's researchers. SharePoint has sometimes been described as a multipurpose black box in terms of its use. It's also sometimes perceived as requiring high IT expertise to set up and manage.

SharePoint also enjoys strong support from Microsoft's partners. Forrester survey found that 44 percent of respondents planned to tap third-party software vendor products for use with SharePoint, while 38 percent said that they went to third parties after finding that SharePoint didn't have what they needed out of the box.

The top third-party software vendors utilized for SharePoint, according to the numbers in Forrester's survey, are as follows:

Most (65 percent) of the survey respondents were using SharePoint 2007, but use of SharePoint 2010 also was high at 57 percent. Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Foundation Services were used by 25 percent of respondents. Use of SharePoint Portal Server 2003 was represented by 11 percent. On the online side, nine percent used SharePoint via Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS), while four percent used it via Office 365.

BPOS, which uses a hosted version of SharePoint 2007, is currently being phased out as Microsoft's customers transition to Office 365. This hosting service uses the newer technologies represented by Microsoft's current SharePoint 2010 flagship product.

The survey found that 81 percent had deployed SharePoint on premises in a datacenter. The heavy on-premises use of SharePoint was "not a surprise," according to Koplowitz. Most of the respondents (42 percent) had deployed on premises before they considered the cloud-based offerings to be an option.

In some respects, this survey is a first for Forrester. According to Koplowitz, he and survey co-author John Rymer were looking for a way to drill down into how organizations were using SharePoint because "we didn't have a strong longitudinal view about what people were doing with SharePoint."

Organizations deployed SharePoint to enable collaboration, social networking, content management, enterprise search, business intelligence, sites (intranets and portals), Web content management and custom composite apps integration (WebParts). Forrester's survey drilled down into these areas. According to a chart shown at the conference, users seemed most satisfied (56 percent) with collaboration. They seemed most dissatisfied (22 percent) with search. Respondents most of all (47 percent) said that they didn't plan to use SharePoint for Web content management. Forrester's report, when published, will likely provide greater detail about how SharePoint was used.

IT was mostly slowed down by technical issues in deploying SharePoint, according to 59 percent of respondents. Another stumbling block was a lack of governance, according to 41 percent. The lack of access to IT skills needed to deploy SharePoint was rated lower as an issue, with 28 percent of respondents seeing it as a problem. However, during audience participation, one anecdotal opinion was that it was harder to find expertise in SharePoint beyond the middle tier.

Forrester is apparently still compiling interviews for this report, which is not yet available. The report will contain advice to SharePoint implementers. A few bullet points were provided by Koplowitz. For instance, he recommended starting out by assessing SharePoint from a functional perspective and avoiding overlap with existing solutions. He highly emphasized ensuring organizational readiness, which proved to be a bigger stumbling than expected.

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About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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