Thanks to John, Brian and Phil for tonights great whiteboard session. The infrastructure side of MOSS is something I only have an awareness of (I just want infrastructure to work!) so it is always good to hear it discussed and listen to peoples thoughts and recommendations for what makes a good MOSS architecture.
A massive amount of information was covered during the evening but it seemed to be clear from people's questions, and willingness for the session to continue as long as it did, that there is plenty more to talk about.
My thoughts on topics for potential future whiteboard sessions are:
Increasing adoption of MOSS within an organisation - It seems that some organisations have fairly quick adoption without having to promote SharePoint at all whilst others struggle to get people to buy into collaborative working. It would be interesting to discuss what people think helps adoption within an organisation. Are some organisations better suited to collaborative working? What role does company culture play in getting SharePoint used and accepted? Are there certain organisational or political prerequisites for MOSS to be successful? As SharePoint professionals what can we do to promote a successful outcome within our own organisations or our clients?
Information architecture and taxonomy - Looking back through this thread I think Brian was going to say a bit about this tonight ,and we did touch on it briefly, but it is really an entire session in its own right. I have spent a significant portion of my SharePoint life with users trying to explain why structure and metadata is so important for successful management of their information. SharePoint provides us with lots of nice tools like content types and site columns to help us manage the information that is stored within SharePoint. However, say "metadata" to a user and watch their eyes glaze over as they retreat to the happy place in their head that they reserve for these kind of interactions with the IT department. So - what strategies or processes have people developed for extracting the business information from users heads that allow the IT guys to build the information architecture(and don't send the business users to sleep)? This type of discussion could be combined with the more technical considerations such as what are the pros and cons for multiple site collections? What impact does this have on the management of content types?
What do we do with SharePoint? - Most of the time you hear people talking about SharePoint as a solution for content management or collaboration or sometimes business intelligence but if you just want to use it for one of those things then you are better off buying a specialist solution. For example I have been in a company where SharePoint was being compared with document management systems such as Hummingbird and this made SharePoint quite a hard sell. This is because SharePoint was being viewed in that case as only being a document management system and the features it provides for this are no match for Hummingbird. I don't think this is a fair way to evaluate Sharepoint because SharePoint is a platform rather than a point solution. It might not be the best at any one of collaboration, BI etc. but if you want to do a few of those things then SharePoint starts to come into its own. I would be interested to hear what other people think about this and the impact it has on what you are using MOSS for. Is anyone out there yet using SharePoint as a platform for most of their business applications? This is what my last company is aspiring to due to the potential for reduced user training costs and reduced integration costs. What are the practicalities of this? What are the limitations for MOSS 2007 as a development platform that is used to support all (or almost all) of your business processes? Is it even possible in this version of MOSS? What additional functionality or features would we like to see in future releases to achieve this goal? Do people even want or see any benefit to this approach for their organisation?
Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head, I am sure there is much more to talk about and I fear I may have started to ramble so I am going to stop for now! Thanks again to John, Phil and Brian for organising tonight and making meetings like this possible for the people doing the sharing and the pointing in the North East.