Is Microsoft's SharePoint unstoppable, or mostly smoke and mirrors?

Microsoft rebuffs criticism that its widely quoted momentum figures mask a less-rosy reality

1 2 3 Page 3
Page 3 of 3

Microsoft's Teper said while discussions of SharePoint-as-shelfware "might have been a valid source of discussion" five years ago, that is not so today.

"Eighty percent to 90% of the companies that have licensed SharePoint are actively using it, and the majority are using it broadly," Teper said.

He cited large enterprises with major active SharePoint deployments, including Tyson Foods (104,000 users), Kraft Foods (98,000) and Coca-Cola Enterprises (72,000), as well as oil and pharmaceutical companies with 50,000 to 100,000 SharePoint users, though Teper declined to name them.

Also, government is a strong user base, he said. "Most of the major military organizations around the world are avid SharePoint users," Teper said, including the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.

Teper strenuously denied that SharePoint remains a "throw-in" for many companies looking for a discount.

"If you talk to customers, if you talk to the Microsoft field sales, if you talk to Steve Ballmer, they would all say that SharePoint is one of the lead dogs in any CAL licensing discussion," he said. "We do not see shelfware."

Rosier than reality revenue?

Teper also strongly denied a more serious charge that had been floating around the analyst community: that Microsoft allocates discounts given to buyers of the Enterprise CAL Suite mostly to products such as Windows Server, Exchange or System Center Configuration Manager, rather than to SharePoint, aiming to pump up SharePoint's revenue to demonstrate the software's momentum.

"I can't reveal accounting stuff, but that is absolutely not true," Teper said.

IDC analyst Melissa Webster, who has closely studied SharePoint's sales and user ship figures, said, "I didn't believe them in the beginning either." But after going over the discount allocation issue with Microsoft "using a very fine-tooth comb," Webster said she's convinced Microsoft is not inflating its SharePoint revenue.

"As a public company, Microsoft is governed by pretty darn strict laws, that have only gotten stricter," she said. Also, the product groups inside Microsoft are highly competitive fiefdoms that are unlikely to sacrifice their sales to pump up SharePoint, she said.

Even if SharePoint's actual use today is overstated, most analysts feel the product's impact on the market isn't.

Sampson described SharePoint as a "juggernaut," while DeGroot called it "the most successful noncore product ['core' being products like e-mail, file and print, for example] that Microsoft has come up with."

"Microsoft may oversell its success, but that should be considered normal corporate behavior, and there is some fire underneath the smoke," he said.

"I go to a lot of places where the IT department says that SharePoint usage is just growing like a weed," said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, an analyst at CMS Watch. "So it's possible there are actually more SharePoint users than are actually licensed for it. But nobody really knows."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

1 2 3 Page 3
Page 3 of 3
Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon