Over the past year, as part of the creation of the Indian development centre we looked very closely at which platform we should base our solution on going forward. Having built versions 1 and 2 on other platforms which required a high level of support and maintenance, with limited reusability, we looked at how we could build a more extendable solution which could reuse as much widely available, underlying functionality in a number of technologies. The aim was to have faster development cycles and produce a robust solution that we can rapidly deploy, so bringing new functionality to the market.
While there is no silver bullet to these needs, the key considerations we prioritized were:
• Scaleable and robust platform
• Great development environment
• Evolving underlying functionality we can build on
• Easy deployment in our customers’ environments (if they don’t want SaaS)
• Good architectural fit with our customers’ IT strategies
• Easy to licence
Like many things in life there were compromises and any specific platform does have specific strengths and weaknesses but on balance we decided to deploy on MOSS – Sharepoint and SQL Server.
A year down the line we have released a full commercially available version - so what have the lessons been?
We have recruited some outstanding developers with sound Sharepoint experience so we did get off to a flying start – and we elected to develop our own user interface to ensure we provide a great user experience. We have leveraged many parts of the environment as you may expect – IM, forums, multi language support, single sign-on integration, security models, etc – and the core of our solution – the lifecycles part – came together really well as it leverages so much of the underlying functionality.
We have had great feedback from Microsoft – one senior consulting leader described it as a ‘lighthouse exemplar of a Sharepoint based business application’ – we know we are on the right track.
Having tight control of the user experience is really important to us – going forward we have the challenge of providing more and more functionality while making it intuitive so the design is invisible.
What’s next – Sharepoint 2010 is almost out – this will increase our rate of product development – particularly around bringing the best of the social computing tools to the enterprise.
We firmly believe the platform choice was the right one and over the next few months look forward to lots of new cool stuff being deployed – we are nothing if we are not innovative!!