A Scorching TechReady and the Deploy Now Versus Later Question

One day left at TechReady 9 and I’ve already had a great week. The record-setting heat in Seattle hasn’t gotten in the way one bit. I’ve been inside most of the day in air-conditioning learning about great technologies, both current and future. There are some really fantastic products coming out in the next year.

I’ve also enjoyed getting together with current colleagues in my district, re-uniting with old colleagues, and meeting several new technical specialists in the field. I also really enjoy getting a chance to meet people from the product group. I’m always amazed at how friendly and engaging these people are, especially with deadlines looming and endless requests for their time.

In addition to TechReady activities I’ve been keeping up with customers and today I got my first email asking for my thoughts on whether to deploy a solution on SharePoint 2007 or wait for SharePoint 2010. In this case, SharePoint isn’t in the environment anywhere. I’m expecting several more so I thought I’d post my opinion out here for all to see.


The Typical Questions

1. When will it be available?

Answer: The latest announced information is first half of calendar year 2010 

2. Will it be stable?

Answer: That’s a fairly broad question. And of course there is no way to make guarantees for every feature/function of SharePoint. That said, this is our version 4 of the product, and version 3 (2007) was stable out of the gate in my experience. 

3. What was 2007 like initially as far as bugs?

Answer: This is also fairly broad. I’m sure some might complain about certain features/workloads of SharePoint and the challenges they had out of the gate. The biggest complaint I heard from my consultant peers at the time was lack of deep documentation. I know we are focused on addressing this up front this time around.

My personal experience deploying SharePoint 2007 (v3) in a 10K person organization was very good. Some stats:

  • General availability of SharePoint 2007: January 2007
  • Launch of enterprise-wide SharePoint-based portal, My Sites, enterprise search, and collaboration platform: April 13, 2007
  • Number of hours of downtime as of Dec 31, 2007: 1 (due to shared SQL issue)
  • Percentage uptime over this period: 99.98%
  • Number of servers in the farm (including clustered SQL): 6

My Advice

My suggestion today (July 31st) for most organizations is to move forward with 2007 planning and deployment but keep one eye on SharePoint 2010 announcements/information.

The best advice I can give is to ramp up on 2010 and follow best practice with 2007 today.


Some additional thoughts:

1. Hardware/software/browser requirements - you’ll notice in the post below that we’ve released general 2010 hardware guidance, so build your 2007 environment on this same hardware so you are ready to upgrade when 2010 is available. And check out the other great recommendations in this post as far as using Windows Server 2008 and getting users off of IE6. There are several requirements for 2010 that you can address now.


2. When deploying on 2007 use out-of-box as much as possible. Limit customizations to common customizations (e.g. custom master pages).  And check for customization compatibility using the Upgrade Checker that was released with Service Pack 2: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd793607.aspx. Run the Upgrade Check, especially if deeper customizations are considered. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t deploy custom solutions, etc. But you should be aware of how these solutions might impact an upgrade to SharePoint 2010.

3. If you are considering 3rd party solutions, either free open source (codeplex) or MS partner products consider upgrade challenges. If you are purchasing a solution I’d ask the company what their roadmap is for SharePoint 2010 and how their product will upgrade. Are they aligned with Microsoft? Also, what is the timeframe for having an upgrade solution? It might be interesting to install the vendor’s solution and run the Upgrade Checker to see what happens.

4. For each solution/component of SharePoint you are looking to leverage consider how it might change in 2010. For example, how will the BDC change in 2010? In some cases there is some basic info in the sneak peak video on SharePoint 2010.

5. Plan to upgrade from the start, both from a planning perspective and a budget perspective.

6. When 2010 is released and you upgrade shortly after RTM, don’t try to push the platform to the limits. Use it the way it was designed (and tested). If you have a unique business solution, test it first.

Bottom line: You’ve heard it said before: “walk before you run”. So start walking on 2007, upgrade, and then run on 2010. This will give you immediate value today, with a plan for a broader deployment with SharePoint 2010.


Timing is Everything

As more details are released, dates firm up, and beta builds become public it may make sense to focus on SharePoint 2010. It also depends on the specific solution you are looking to launch. What are the requirements? How soon is the business asking for it? These all weigh in to the final strategy.


What I Can’t Tell You

I realize that every organization is unique. And you know your organization better than I do. In some cases, there might be a policy on how quickly you can deploy a product in the enterprise after it releases.  In other cases, it could be extremely hard to budget for an upgrade. In other words, you might get one shot to get SharePoint out in the enterprise. These organization policies could impact the final decision more than any other aspect.


Hope this helps as you think through your strategy. Happy SharePointing!