As I sit down to write my final article of 2012, I realize that this has been a monumental year for Microsoft SharePoint, its partners and customers. My experiences this year have been from a number of levels. With Concatenate being an ISV and service integrator, I have had the opportunity to see the SharePoint ecosystem grow and expand to new heights never before seen in Microsoft circles.

As a speaker and author, I have addressed energetic audiences across North America and learned some of the incredible things that clients are doing with SharePoint. As a Business-Critical SharePoint Partner, I have worked hand-in-hand with customers that are aligning and amalgamating line-of-business systems into SharePoint, truly using the system as the collaborative environment it was designed to be. What a year!

Twelve months ago, the SharePoint conversation focused on what the 2013 product would look like from a user-interface as well as infrastructure perspective. SharePoint 2010 introduced the ribbon, a game-changer that allowed front-end users far more extendibility towards the Office suite. What would the “big bang” item be in this version?

Business end users were curious how the 2013 product incorporated feedback on previous versions, and make changes that would allow businesses to create stronger, better and faster applications. Admins wanted to know what the upgrade path would be and how welcome the product would be in the changing cloud landscape. How would they incorporate on- and off-premise environments into the equation, if at all? Questions also arose about any significant platform requirements, such as the SQL 2008 R2 upgrade, which came with 2010.

As soon as the calendar rolled to 2012, the rumor mill began to churn. February saw the increase in blog posts and conversations around details of the new version. At SPTechCon San Francisco, the excitement about the pending release was palpable. Depending on whom you were talking to, the variations were all over the map with potentially massive modifications all around the product.

Vendors and consultants were champing at the bit to find out any information possible on the release and its inclusions. There was particular excitement about the concept of the App Store, which wasn’t verified but was a known component coming to market. When the beta version was released in June, nerves were calmed and, from the conversations I had, in the end over 90% of the changes in 2013 are welcomed, with a few holdouts feeling that more could have been done to the UI.

Once summer arrived, things continued full-force in SharePoint as the Business Critical SharePoint program was announced. The program, dedicated to helping customers connect SharePoint to existing LOB systems, and to expanding SharePoint and SQL Server practices into business-critical solutions, quickly picked up speed and resulted in more than 80 partners joining. This year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto had a great contingency of SharePoint community members and companies looking to further engrain themselves in the SharePoint world.

Much of the discussion at the WPC SharePint was around 2013, it’s pending release date and inclusions that would change the landscape. Later in July, the community convened in Boston for SPTechCon, where SharePoint customers focused on extending their existing deployments. The conference, one of the largest in the history of the show, also included a panel discussion on 2013 for a packed audience eager to learn more.

With the release of SharePoint 2013 beta in early August, beta environments began to pop up everywhere while the blogosphere continued to grow. First impressions were very positive, though questions began to rise about the upgrade potential and when would the “right” time for clients to upgrade be, if at all. Many vendors took the opportunity to develop applications for the App Store, which fueled excitement. The app model concept, which has seen unspeakable success in other circles, is a great place to learn of the community offerings and is seen as a one-stop shop for solutions.

If you read my article last month, you already know all about SPC12 in Las Vegas. The show, attended by more than 10,000 people, was billed to be “all about 2013,” though many attendees were focused on sourcing information for their current environments. Regardless of the focus, the show was a great success, and the community is awaiting an announcement for the 2013 show.

All in all, this has been a truly remarkable year for SharePoint and the SharePoint community. Like many that I had spoken to, I am looking forward to some downtime over the holidays and a successful 2013. On behalf of myself and all of us at Concatenate, have a safe and happy holiday season. I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year.

Eric is the EVP of Systems Integration for Concatenate, a software firm focused on maximizing SharePoint through product innovation and systems integration based in Toronto. You can reach Eric by e-mail at or on Twitter at @rizinsights. Read his other SharePoint thoughts on his blog at