For those of us who have been working with SharePoint for a while, we have a bit of a soft spot for the 2010 release. The product represents the first iteration that was truly enterprise ready, and made an attempt to integrate with other Microsoft products, noticeably the Office Suite. Some of the features that the platform introduced were:
The Office Ribbon
Early social features
A rebuilt central administration
Service applications for administrators.
It also added client-side object models, BCS and PowerShell support for a range of other integrations and development potential.
There were some areas that weren’t as popular or well liked, but by far and large SharePoint 2010 was a positive stepping stone towards what we see today. In short, it was a huge improvement over SharePoint 2007, and led to some truly powerful internal business systems, Intranets and tools - and many of these systems are still running today.
So it's important to note that mainstream support from Microsoft is ending soon. A shame, we know... But an inevitable step. So what does this mean for you?
End of mainstream support - October 13th 2015
That’s when it all ends. Well… For the most part. That date represents the 5th anniversary of SharePoint 2010 being released to the world. It also marks the closing out of what Microsoft calls mainstream support. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be unsupported, there'll still be options there but they’ll just cost you more. Potentially a lot more. To fully understand how this works for SharePoint 2010, let’s have a look at how Microsoft support cycles tend to work.
5 years onward from a product launch, Microsoft provide what's known as mainstream support. This includes:
- The ability to request design changes
- Security updates
- Non Security updates
- Complimentary support
- Paid SharePoint 2010 support
5 years onwards from the end of mainstream support, Microsoft will move a product into Extended Support. This is similar to the above but minus the (very, very) important perks of non-security updates or service patches. Support calls are typically charged fully regardless of what the root issue cause is.
For those not used to Microsoft language, this might not seem like a great deal, but it can be and it's important to understand it fully.
The potential to be charged for a SharePoint 2010 support call, even if the underlying problem isn’t of your own making is one thing. It’s another entirely to see any form of patching removed entirely beyond security patches. These two factors combined mean that any issues that arise will only be resolvable with lots of time and/or money.
Critical Upgrade Path
While the situation above is far from perfect for many, there are alternative options, it isn’t all quite that bad. Upgrading to a newer platform will remove most of this issues above, and there are several pain free routes that can be taken to achieve this.
The first is to consider SharePoint Online, part of the Office 365 suite. This is part of Microsoft’s big mission to draw all customers to their Cloud products. SharePoint 2013’s kernel is the operating core of SharePoint Online but it's greatly fleshed out with the latest features and innovations (such as the Office Graph), all of which aren’t necessarily available with the On-Premises edition (though that is changing with the 2016 release, see below). It also provides a fairly straight-forward licensing model.
The second option is upgrading to SharePoint 2013 locally on your estate. SharePoint 2013 greatly enhanced the features that its aged sibling first introduced, but paid greater attention to things such as the user interface and greater device compatibility. The upgrade path is a little more complex as it’s no longer possible to perform an in-place upgrade. You’ll still have options via detaching the database or settling on appropriate third party tools.
The third and much less defined option is… wait. Albeit not long. SharePoint 2016 is expected to be available before the end of the year, some firms may choose to upgrade direct to the latest version of the platform. While the upgrade path isn’t very clear as yet, it stands to reason that either inbuilt tools will help, or the partner network can step in.
A hearty thanks
In closing, we’d give a round of applause to SharePoint 2010. It opened a lot of doors and laid the foundation for a great numbers of the innovations we take for granted today. These features live on in newer, more powerful versions of SharePoint however, which reinforces something that all technologists know; that all things have their time in the sun.
With SharePoint 2016 on the horizon, there’s plenty to look forward to.