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Snapshots from SharePoint Conference 2011

As my colleagues (Nick and Gavin) have already blogged, SharePoint Conference 2011 was a massive conference with over 7,500 people attending from around the world, 240+ sessions, and 200 vendors displaying their wares. The main theme of the conference was about making the most of your existing investment in SharePoint. The tagline being that attendees never utter the words “I didn’t know SharePoint could do that” ever again.

Last week I presented a session at the Wellington SharePoint User Group based on my experiences at the Conference. My talk covered highlights from three sessions at the Conference: SharePoint Online and Azure; creating ‘adaptive’ public facing websites using FAST Search; and e-Commerce websites using SharePoint and Commerce Server.

Here is a brief summary of my top three sessions.

Number 1 – SharePoint Online, Developer Session

Andrew Connell presented an interesting developer session on SharePoint Online. SharePoint Online has some known developer trade-offs when compared to on-premise deployments. Connell presented three scenarios to overcome some of these trade-offs using Microsoft’s cloud offering, Windows Azure.

The NetHope ‘keynote’ demonstration (mentioned in Gavin’s blog post here) was another example of integrating SharePoint Online and Windows Azure to create a rich web-based application.

I think this is a trend we will see more organisations adopting in the future to leverage the most of their SharePoint deployments.

Number 2 – FAST Search for SharePoint

One of the more interesting sessions was around using FAST Search for SharePoint as a content delivery mechanism to deliver content ‘adapted,’or targeted, to the individual viewing the website.

Organisations spend a lot of time and effort creating content for their users and this session highlighted an innovative technique using search to proactively promote content that is more relevant to the user. This was achieved by using attributes that can be derived about an ‘anonymous’ user – such as location, or preferences based on their Facebook information – to tailor the content that is delivered. For example, on a cooking recipe website a user from Mexico may be shown recipes relating to tacos or quesadillas, where as a visitor from New Zealand may be shown a recipe for lamb roasts or pavlova. Personalisation is becoming increasingly important for websites, and this is a clever and flexible way of delivering customised information.

Functionality within Microsoft SQL Server was also used to process information about users’ click patterns (the links users navigate through during their website journey) to learn about user behaviour and again tailor the content delivery based on this knowledge from previous interactions with the site. Again I see demand for this in the future as organisations look to leverage their existing content investment.

Number 3 – SharePoint Commerce Services 

Lastly, another great session at the Conference centred around the improvements in Commerce Server delivered by the latest Service Pack. The key component here is SharePoint Commerce Services which provides 30+ SharePoint webparts that tightly integrate with Commerce Server. This allows customers to rapidly add commerce-related functionality to their public-facing websites. Hopefully we will see some of this functionality rolled into the next version of SharePoint.

You can view my slides from my Wellington SharePoint User Group presentation below.



Posted by: Robert Stewart, Solution Specialist | 02 November 2011

Tags: SharePoint, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Conference, SharePoint User Group, SharePoint Technology Conference

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