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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Interview: Migrating to SharePoint 2010

24 May 2010

Jon King of Parity discusses the benefits of migrating to the newly launched Share Point 2010

Microsoft launched Share Point 2010 and Office 2010 at a virtual launch event on 12 May. On Windows spoke to Jon King, Microsoft technical lead at Parity, about how his company is helping companies migrate to Share Point 2010.

Could you give me some background information on your solutions and the industries in which you work?
Parity is a Microsoft Gold Partner that predominately operates in the public sector. We mainly deliver solutions that are built on Share Point but we also use traditional development tools like Visual Studio and the .NET Framework, which complement our Share Point offerings. We have been using Share-point since the first version was made available and we now deliver applications based on Share point 2010. We also participated in a Microsoft Partner Evidence Program for Share Point where select companies were provided with access to the pre-release and beta versions of the solution to familiarise ourselves and start development work.

What advantages does SharePoint 2010 offer?
There are a number of different angles to that question. If, for example, you have an organisation that hasn’t already embarked on a SharePoint strategy you have to look at what advantages SharePoint can offer above and beyond an upgrade of their current system. For example, the current version of Lotus Notes will be expiring very soon so a lot of people will have to upgrade or look at alternatives. What SharePoint offers very competitively is a complete framework and package of products that are built into one platform, which provides a reduced total cost of ownership. For example, search and collaboration are built into SharePoint, but this isn’t the case with other offerings like Lotus Notes. With these solutions, all of those additional features incur extra costs and have to be bolted on. SharePoint is all one product, out of the box and you just pay one price for the product. Integration is seamless as it is part of the product.

One of the classic scenarios that we encounter is that an organisation already has internal legacy systems that hold a lot of information, but are faced with the challenge of trying to make sense of that information. A lot of organisations are looking to SharePoint to provide document management capabilities. One of the big advantages is that you can improve the quality of the data you are holding by associating documents with metadata and taxonomy. This means that you are able to find information much faster and can make sense of that information. SharePoint has a lot of features that increase productivity and offer product collaboration support for businesses in terms of driving down the costs of ownership.

What SharePoint offers very competitively is a complete framework and package of products that are built into one platform, which provides a reduced total cost of ownership.

Jon King, Parity Is there anything that will benefit or hold back companies when it comes to SharePoint adoption?
One of the challenges that a lot of organisations are facing is to do with budgets cuts. Also, the cost of maintaining all the different information that is stored across different folders in a company’s legacy systems, both in terms of hardware and maintenance, is high. But if organisations move to SharePoint and go through a cleansing exercise, removing duplicate information and starting to enrich the information it will mean that the volume of content can be cut down and people can find information more swiftly, thus increasing levels of productivity. An example of this in the public sector is freedom of information requests. The cost of fulfilling these requests is very high as the information is inaccessible, but if you have a platform based around SharePoint then the costs of these requests is reduced.

How is Parity helping companies migrate to SharePoint?
There are a lot of organisations that are currently on Lotus Notes that will have to make a decision in the near future about whether to upgrade or migrate. Together with our partners, we have put together an offering that involves migrating from Lotus Notes to SharePoint 2010. This helps us run an analysis of a company’s footprint in terms of the currents applications they have that run on Lotus Notes and what running an equivalent service in SharePoint will involve. We will then do a brief proof of concept to demonstrate these ideas and show what could be achieved, as well as the implications and costs of migration. There are typically huge volumes of information hosted in existing systems, which has to be moved to SharePoint. We help clients understand the implications of this. Data cleansing is part of the migration process and this means that instead of moving all the data and then cleansing it, the duplicate data is removed during migration. Coupled with this, is the enrichment of information, as associating data with metadata and taxonomy makes servicing data much easier.

Do you think companies are aware of the benefits of migrating to SharePoint 2010 and, if not, how do you think you can make them more aware? Some organisations are very well informed and aware of the benefits. Others have different priorities and are less informed. We quite often work with Microsoft to talk to these companies about what SharePoint 2010 can offer. One of the key things we focus on when talking to organisations is understanding their pain points and how they can realise or address those through the provision of solutions built around SharePoint 2010.

Are there any particular features that you are actively pushing to clients to encourage them to adopt SharePoint 2010?
Overall, there are some quite important innovations in SharePoint 2010. One of them is the search aspect but there are also improvements in the forms capabilities and the enterprise search capabilities. Social computing is also something that SharePoint 2010 offers. A lot of people like the Facebook and Wikipedia functionalities.

Are you also encouraging companies to upgrade to the next version of Visual Studio and the .NET Framework?
Visual Studio 2010 was launched recently and that is a very important software release that coincides with the SharePoint 2010 release. This is because for bespoke development, where you are trying to enhance SharePoint 2010, then using the latest tools is advantageous. If there are no restrictions in place from the client, we will always use the latest version of the tools that we possibly can. We are always pushing the boundaries in terms of adopting the latest technology available.
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