In-Depth

Will SaaS Kill the SharePoint Server Team?

Why SharePoint professionals need to embrace SharePoint's new API model of development and deployment.

SharePoint is often touted as the Swiss Army knife of enterprise collaboration and productivity. But like most blades on a Swiss Army knife, each separate tool isn't always that sharp or practical as the user would like them to be. For that reason, I predict that SharePoint developers, like other developers, will become mostly APIs or API plumbers.

With the SharePoint 2016 release fast approaching, it's becoming evident that the rise of the API and SaaS model of getting technology to do stuff you want will be far quicker and cheaper (and without the use of server rooms). This will for sure hit the SharePoint community and developers quite hard

I came to this realization upon paying my company's monthly credit card bill, where I noticed a trend. We now spend significantly on SaaS applications and that's replacing the need for a good number of SharePoint developers. At least for some of the developers, SaaS is putting them out of a job.  So depending on what your skill sets are, this could be good or bad news for you.

To illustrate my point, here were the bigger ticket items on last month's credit card bill:

Activity and Cost Impact to SharePoint Developers or Development Work
Harvest timesheet (billing system),  $149 Eliminated the need for InfoPath development or fancy workflow.
Join.me (screen sharing and technical support software), $17 per user. Less need to have an on-premises presence on the client site to explain why the datasheet view doesn't work in Chrome.
Browserstack (cross browser, mobile device testing SAAS),  $49 Reduce the testing of the master page releases to minutes and not hours.  QA work becomes part time and has been deskilled with the intern doing the work.
Rackspace (24 hour SharePoint monitoring), $3k (cross-chargeable to clients.) Eliminated the need to have 24/7 support crews to monitor the servers for our clients.
WordPress site, $ 5 Eliminated the need for a SharePoint-branded public site.
Cloudshare, $49 Spin up dev environments in seconds, not days. And when they get hosed they can be replaced in seconds.  Internal IT not required.
QuickBooks (accounting software), $49  Eliminated on-premises installed server to having them hosted in the cloud.
Office 365, $190 Eliminated the administration of Exchange or SharePoint with a freebie virus protection thrown in.
Freshdesk (help desk ticket system), $250 Eliminated the need for an internal helpdesk system.  This could be done in SharePoint or Dynamics CRM acting as an XRM.
Wedoit (task tracking software), $3 Eliminated the need for SharePoint as this would take 15 years for a third-party SharePoint Bamboo type Web part to get the return on investment.
OneDrive,  free Eliminated the need for an FTP site.
MailChimp (mass e-mail service), free Eliminated SPD text-based e-mails. 
Dynamics Online, $50 No need for a CRM install

Total Costs:  Less than $5,000 per month/$60k per year. 
Conclusion: Replace SharePoint with SaaS-based alternatives.

Taking it a step further, I could take out Rackspace by throwing SharePoint up in Azure and having 24/7 monitoring on it with New Relic service for $149 per month.

The math quickly shows how many boots on the ground/man hours this approach to software development has replaced. From my perspective, it would eliminate the need for least one internal developer, one administrator and one support desk person. By U.S. standards, this can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. A decade ago, to have IT deliver these features, with fast set up costs on TCO (total cost ownership) minimized and a 24/7 support monitoring thrown in, would be a CTO's dream. With the SaaS software model, when the servers stop working at 10 pm on a Sunday evening, they magically fix themselves by 8 am on Monday.

Other costs that you can eliminate when moving to SaaS are recruitment, managing personnel issues and training of dealing with these techies in the same room!

About the Author

Peter Ward is the co-owner of Soho Dragon, a New York-based Microsoft partner focused on SharePoint, Azure and mobile development and is the organizer-founder of the New York City Enterprise Collaboration Meetup group.

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