The focus at Microsoft is shifting from defining what SharePoint is to what you can do with it, according to Jared Spataro’s keynote speech at SPTechCon yesterday in San Francisco.

Spataro, Microsoft’s SharePoint Project Management Team lead, spoke of ramping up with SharePoint in terms of using it as a platform to build upon, while also being a series of applications that deliver value right out of the box.

At customers using SharePoint, Spataro said, team collaboration features are most highly deployed, followed by document management, file share replacement, portals and intranets.

He went on to say that the bigger the initiative, the more success companies are finding, especially when they focus on their top priorities. To go big requires scale, though, as something companies must plan on from the very beginning.

fMicrosoft’s approach to scale is to promote its Office 365 online suite of applications, citing lower total cost of ownership and economies of scale. “But running the software, we can do it more efficiently than most companies on their own,” Spataro said. He said a small-business version of Office 365 will cost US$6 per user per month.

Spataro said Microsoft is working in the hybrid space that currently exists between on-premise implementations and SharePoint Online, where people can migrate some workloads online and access both with the same domain credentials.

In SharePoint Online, an Administration Center screen replaces Central Administration, and it was demonstrated that extranet sites can be created in two clicks without having to open ports in a firewall and increase security risks.

A trimmed-down ribbon includes new page templates, and new “gadgets”—preconfigured HTML snippets such as “maps and directions”—enable small businesses to ramp up quickly without a lot of investment in IT infrastructure, the company said.

Spataro said, “Over time, most people will move their SharePoint to the cloud. For distributed implementations, cloud will be immediately valuable.”

But not everything will be available in the cloud right away when Office 365 and SharePoint Online are released this year, he said, noting that FAST is something that won’t immediately be available in SharePoint Online.

Microsoft, Spataro said, is making a substantial investment in infrastructure to build out the data centers necessary to support the cloud initiative, but he could not say how much Microsoft is spending on that effort.

As for the next version of SharePoint, Spataro said the company is not discussing any release timetable, but he did say, “We’re working hard on it.”