My 10 years with SharePoint from the SQL Server perspective; the story so far.

I’ve been working with SharePoint since SharePoint Server 2003. It’s been ten years since my boss, on his last day working beside me as a consultant for Dimension Data, ran past me saying “I’ve made you SharePoint administrator, you’ll love it” as he ran out of the door. I yelled back “What’s SharePoint?” and he gave me a cheeky grin and said “you’ll thank me, you’ll love it.” I never saw him again.

Over the ten years now, there have been times where I have wanted to do anything except thank him for inheriting SharePoint. There are other times where I’ve been the sole voice, evangelising its usage within an organisation. Ultimately, yes, I do want to thank him!

I’m amazed by how SharePoint has evolved over the years. The central tenet is the same; sharing information, regardless of the format. I’m glad that there is a move towards collaborative sharing, working and business intelligence.

If there is anything I could change about SharePoint, it would be the following things:

  • I’d make sure that every SharePoint project included the business users and business sponsors, and not just technical resources. I’d want a diverse team, right at the top of my list.
  • I’d clarify the licensing. 
  • I’d make it super-easy to jazz up a SharePoint website. If you want some really fancy SharePoint website, you have to know things like CSS. I’m not a web designer so I’m not going to go there.
  • SharePoint has a broad skill set of skills in setting it up; it’s an architecture project, not just a Business Intelligence project. I’d like that message to get across. 

Since SharePoint is delivered as a website, that makes it look deceptively easy.  Don’t be fooled. It’s sharing information, so the information assets need to be secured and controlled as with other information stores.  Over my ten years, I’ve struggled with security, identity delegation, and authentication. If you’re thinking “well, that’s easy” then you’re blessed that you didn’t see the earlier kerfuffle in trying to sort it out! So, I was very glad to see that Kay Unkroth and an amazing team of Technical Reviewers have put together a white paper entitled Microsoft BI Authentication and Identity Delegation

I come at SharePoint from a SQL Server angle; in other words, from the data up.   I recommend this white paper since there is a lot here about connecting to various data sources, and the SQL Server expert will find this very useful. There’s also references to custom user references. For the SQL Server Business Intelligence reader, there’s a lot of information about enabling personal, team and enterprise Business Intelligence from the architecture perspective, and this will prove useful to you for your SharePoint 2013 projects.

I strongly recommend that you read this paper. Sometimes I think people assume Business Intelligence is just about pretty pictures (sigh). However, to make the reports, dashboards and so on happen in SharePoint, you’re not waving a magic wand. Magic needs to happen under the hood. Unkroth’s white paper will help to demystify the complexities for you. I really wish we’d had all this information earlier.

I’ve spent many nights working with SharePoint to make things happen for my Business Intelligence customers. However, it does seem to me that the thinking at Microsoft is becoming more ‘joined up’ and I’m glad to see a diverse range of technical authors who have helped to make this paper happen.

I love what I’ve seen SharePoint do for customers over the years, and I look forward to working with it for the next ten.

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