Even though it has been a month since Convergence 2015 the session guide still sits on my desk. I have some weird mind block in discarding it as it continues to remind me of the main messages from the conference, specifically the ever changing technology world we live in and the need for software companies to not only respond but define the future of their products. As a SharePoint product company that applies to us as much as anyone out there. There have been so many mixed messages it the marketplace regarding the future of SharePoint, its interaction with the Dynamics products and the movement to SharePoint Online and Office 365. In fact, it has reached the point where it is not unusual for a customer to ask me “Is SharePoint going to really be discontinued by Microsoft.” Now I am no Genie, but somehow I doubt it. As we all know SharePoint has been Microsoft’s fastest growing server product, and just as I don’t see Apple ditching the iPhone any day soon, somehow I don’t think Microsoft plans to do away with such a revenue machine as well.
Although that may sound like an obvious conclusion, it is not difficult to get confused. With the discontinuation of the Dynamics GP Business Portal as well as the Dynamics NAV Employee Portal, a Dynamics user may get the impression that the love affair between Dynamics and SharePoint is over. It is not until you start looking at the details that you see the trend is actually moving toward a tighter integration between the two, albeit different. It used to be assumed that if you were installing SharePoint as well as Dynamics, both were going to be on premise deployments on the company’s internal servers. That is no longer the case, so the functionality that integrates the two had to be done differently to support the new cloud model. Dynamics GP and NAV can both be deployed to Azure, and SharePoint Online is now readily available with Office 365. In order to continue the integration between the two, things had to change, and they already have. With Dynamics NAV 2015 you can create a SharePoint Online App and deploy Navision functionality directly to Office 365. If you are a Dynamics GP user, you can share the Dynamics GP Workspace, Excel reports and sync document libraries all directly with SharePoint Online.
So where does that leave SharePoint solution providers? Well, they must change as well. Gone are the days of assuming that your customer has a SharePoint farm setup in house and your product can be deployed on premise. With the release of SharePoint 2013 came the ability to create SharePoint Apps that allow deployment to Office 365. Now I will be the first to admit that this new framework is in its infancy, but according to Microsoft “All future investments will go to making the new SharePoint app model richer and more powerful. Accordingly, we recommend that all new development should use the new app model whenever possible.” So in short, it will get there. And DynamicPoint will be there with them. Our developers are currently working to move our applications to the new App model and with the upcoming release of SharePoint 2016 we are looking forward to a greater range of tools to make this possible.
All of this may see daunting but we didn’t sign up for a career in technology to take it easy. In the words of the great inventor and master of change Ben Franklin, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”
By Mike Marcin, DynamicPoint – SharePoint Solutions for Microsoft Dynamics® ERP
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