Survey finds that Microsoft's Sharepoint support = rubbish

Microsoft forgot to add support to its Sharepoint "solution."

I guess it's true that you often get what you pay for. In the case of Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft sells licenses. That's pretty much all its users get. Info-Tech reports that some users are waiting up to six months for Microsoft's technical support team to resolve issues with the product. Six months. 180 days. A very long time to wait for a usable system.

Info-Tech surveyed 258 Sharepoint customers to see what they think of Microsoft's fast-growing product. A large majority are happy with Sharepoint's functionality and total cost of ownership. Nearly 25% say its support, however, stinks.

It turns out that customizing Sharepoint is a big problem for CIOs. Managing Sharepoint implementations, which often grow like a weed, is the other biggie:

One of the largest consulting firms focused on Microsoft technologies said SharePoint sometimes leads to management as well as technical challenges. Larry LeSueur, vice-president of infrastructure technology solutions at Avanade Canada, said many companies are looking at the Microsoft product as a collaboration aid without knowing what they're getting into. "The No. 1 question I get from CIOs about Sharepoint is how to get it back under control because it's been implemented at a departmental level."

According to the survey, Microsoft's technical support team is not the best place to seek help, given the relative lack of understanding of the product among the technical support workers. This could be because Microsoft's Sharepoint documentation is so poor. Both, however, are also likely due to the fast-paced adoption/growth Sharepoint has had.

I think Sharepoint is a decent product in an incredibly important sweet spot for content collaboration technologies. Were it released by a smaller company, it wouldn't have a chance. But with Microsoft's reach it has gone far in a short period of time. In so doing it has awakened the content management community to a gaping void in its offerings: collaboration and ease of use. Sharepoint is super easy to use compared to a Documentum or Filenet.

As for its shortcomings, it's interesting how they map against open-source content collaboration solutions like Alfresco and MindTouch. Open source companies don't have the problem with poor support - it's their business so customers who call tend to speak to the developers who wrote the product, not a junior technical support "engineer" whose understanding of the product comes from reading about it in glossy magazines.

It will be interesting to see how the weed (Sharepoint) competes against the community (Alfresco, MindTouch, Drupal, etc.). Short term, Microsoft is tough to beat. Long term...?

Disclosure: I work for Alfresco, the open-source alternative to Sharepoint, and advise MindTouch.

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