SharePoint 2010 is, as of right now, considered by many to be the sweet spot release of Microsoft’s product. SharePoint 2007 is old and not as full featured, and SharePoint 2013 is very new, quite different, and massively resource intensive. For many organizations, SharePoint 2010 is a great place to be—or land, since upgrades from 2007 to any subsequent version require you to be on SharePoint 2010 as an intermediate step.

But none of this is to say that SharePoint 2010 is perfect. In fact, in many respects, it falls short of an ideal product. Here are three ways in which SharePoint 2010 does not quite live up to its potential.

The issue with standards compliance—or not SharePoint 2010 is not always compliant with industry and regulatory standards. But the product might even lull you into thinking that it is standards compliant. One of the big “enterprise” oriented features that was added to SharePoint 2010 in order to increase its adoption was the records management feature: the ability to designate what documents, records, and other objects should be maintained, and for what duration those records should be maintained, and in what way archives of those records could be accessed. But records management in SharePoint 2010 is somewhat of a blank canvas: it is up to the administrator and the governance committee to configure the application appropriately, taking into account all of the various regulations and laws pertaining to your organization’s specific industry. There are not really any templates or feature packs to download to help you along the way. There is no sample gallery where you can obtain templates if you are, say, a hospital. If you are, in particular, in the financial, health, or government industries, you have very specific regulations to follow. In these instances, third party software is often your best bet in order to ensure you are compliant with these various expectations, as that software can be designed specifically for your industry, rather than trying to shoehorn rules and workflows into SharePoint 2010’s records management engine. SharePoint 2010 may not be the right solution.

SharePoint 2010 as a gateway drug

Once you start with SharePoint, you can often find your organization becoming a customer of one or more of the many members of the SharePoint ecosystem. You might start out building a workflow, but then require more functionality and go engage a SharePoint partner like Nintex or K2. You might want to have a test environment somewhere easy to access, so you go sign up for an account with Rackspace or another hosting partner. You might want to integrate with other systems, so you engage a consulting partner to build out on the Business Connectivity Services feature. Essentially, you invest in SharePoint, but then you will most likely invest in further products. One prominent industry firm has released the following statistic: “For every dollar customers spend on Microsoft enterprise licensing fees, they spend $8 with consultants and channel vendors customizing Microsoft’s tools or integrating other products.” That’s a lot of money to make up for functionality that isn’t in the box.

SharePoint 2010 can be a resource hog

Part of the cost of such a complex product as SharePoint 2010 is the iron that is required to run it. Nowhere is this more true than in considering the memory requirements. Most experienced SharePoint administrators and consultants say that 32 GB of RAM per SharePoint Server machine is a realistic minimum for production use—the rule of thumb is essentially four times the prescribed Microsoft minimum requirement, which in the case of SharePoint 2010 is 8 GB. Most production rollouts of SharePoint take a least three servers, with two machines acting as web front ends and another machine acting as a database host. Most production rollouts are also using dual-core servers, and even virtualized rollouts that take advantage of hypervisors and virtual machine providers like Hyper-V and VMware require really beefy, expensive hosts in order to consolidate the individual virtual machines on them. And then you factor in the disaster recovery and high availability costs—you need either another beefy host server inside of a cluster with expensive shared storage in order to fail over should something nasty occur, or you need another set of physical machines as hot standby computers, or some version of the two. The point is, it all adds up very quickly—hardware costs have come down recently, but you are still talking about a lot of money. And if there are solutions that solve your needs that are hosted in the cloud, those providers take care of all of this expense for you in return for a predictable monthly or annual fee.

Overall, SharePoint 2010 is a great solution for many organizations. But do not be confused: it is not perfect by any means.

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James Matthews


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