SharePoint Conference 2012 and Product Vendor Review!

The SharePoint conference 2012 was this past week (11/11-11/15).  It was one of my favorite conferences ever!  For those of you that don't know the story, the conference got started off a good two weeks before hand for us.  It started when I created a script to drag Dux around Vegas and create a Gangnam Style video.  This slowly blossomed into a full production.  We signed on 5 main actors:  Myself (Chris), my wife (Lidiya), Dux Raymond Psy, Marcy Keller and Erica Toelle.  Marcy was kind enough to put together an instructional video that we all practiced with the two weeks before the conference.  I'll tell you…it was crazy difficult.  Dux went on to inquire with the SharePoint Conference organizers about a special Tuesday night performance as an opening to Bon Jovi – talk about pressure!

Sunday we started off from San Diego and drove up to Vegas.  Luckily, we made it in 3:15 and got in around 1pm.  We stayed in the Wynn and made the daily trip to the conference parking garage.  We started off with our practice routine of Gangnam Style for the flashmob.  We had two performances scheduled for the week (one flash mob on Monday and the Tuesday night opening for the attendee party – we actually did quite a few more).  Truth be told…I never actually made it to any sessions the entire week!  I had too many meetings and catching up with friends and business partners.  I did however get the chance to stop by all the product booths and get the low down on some of the new kids on the SharePoint block.  It took me 2 conference days to do it!  There were some real jewels that I was able to find.  Here is my ranked list:

  1. Pistachio by LimeLeap (@PistachioApps)- This tool is a much needed replacement for those features in BCS that you did not and have not been able to do.  This tool allows for the runtime configuration of dynamic forms for backend data entry and searching.  The UI and web parts were very simple and slick in design and the admin UI was simple too.  The neat thing about their forms were that they maintained referential integrity constraints via dropdowns – something BCS CANNOT do.  They only support SQL Server at the moment and the architecture could use a few tweaks, but I was impressed! (contact: Jed Lake –
  2. AdLib (@AdlibSoftware)- How is it that I never met these guys?  Being a big courseware and documentation tool guy, I found their solution for "compiling" documents using multiple sources and metadata from those source just simply outstanding!  They have a full API and workflow designer for building documents unlike anything I have ever seen.  I asked incredibly hard use cases and they had an example of each.  Turns out that several other vendors on the Expo floor use their solutions.  (contact: Craig Gleason –
  3. PleaseTech (@pleasetech)- A VERY innovative way of co-authoring documents.  The technology will convert the files to HTML for a REAL co-authoring experience.  Each edit and change is stored in their app layer.  When the editing is complete, the document is sent back to its source in SharePoint (or wherever).   This may sound trivial, but I had a very in-depth conversation with their CEO and it is anything but!  The UI is incredibly simple and not too fancy, but it gets the job done! (contact: David Cornwell –
  4. MobileHelix A
    mobile device play very different from MobileEntree and ShareGate in that it is an Enterprise level solution.  MobileHelix provides a BizTalk
    like layer (sources, channels, transformations,etc) for publishing
    source content to mobile devices.  I was impressed with the architecture
    of the solution and Maureen's in-depth knowledge about the product and
    how it differentiated from "perceived" competitors (Maureen Blando –
  5. VizIt – Their tool allows to to collaborate on "sections" of a document.  Most of the vendors refer to this as annotation.  I thought the demo was really slick as you could do a search, find a document, pull it up in their viewer from the results, then highlight sections to make your annotations. (contact: Neicole Crepeau –
  6. X20 Media – A very interesting new media play.  It allows you to build channels from MANY types of sources and then subscribe to those sources.  For a simple comparison, it is similar to subscribing to RSS feeds in your favorite reader, but they have enabled multiple types of channels.  They call their product SharePointTV.  It is a go-to market strategy for them to start out with SharePoint, but I can see the use cases are WAY past sharepoint. (contact – Scott Kelly –
  7. Attini- Who didn't love NewsGator?  I thought their solutions (using Service Apps to aggregate events to a new feed) were pretty awesome.  But, come 2013, they have a lot of innovation they are going to have to do.  Aditi is new to the community, and as such I see them super hungry to build new innovative products around gapping holes in SharePoint Social. (Daniel McPherson –

Honorable and notable mentions:

  • SkyTap – a new player in the cloud-hosted space.  Evidently they can host multiple same subnet instances in an on-demand fashion.  This is great for guys like me that build courseware and want training centers to be able to teach it without having issues in building the VMs.  This is going to be very important when doing labs in SharePoint 2013. (George Stamos –
  • Tzuami –  I was very impressed with Roey Ladelsky.  He was very knowledgeable in migration scenarios.  He gave me a few ideas that I had never thought of! (Roey Ladelsky –
  • HiSoftware – There were a lot of products in various spaces on the Expo floor.  Many of them very specialized, like some were targeted at Encryption, some on Permissions control, some on document archival.  After taking a look at HiSoftware, it was pretty obvious they had ALL the pieces.
  • Cipher – Although not directly related to SharePoint in any way, their Social Network monitoring solution was pretty slick.  Being from a governmentdefense contractor at the moment, I can tell you monitoring of people "talking" or posting stuff is a big deal.  Their solution has lots of use cases other than government.  It had a lot of neat sets of reports out of the box. (Tanya Sewell –

Not so honorable mentions:

  • All the SAP integration vendors.  Geez, I know lots of people have SAP (including my last two clients), but dang…why so many ISVs?  It definitely made it difficult to differentiate them all.  Their was one differential point, they all seemed to cover HR, but only a few went past the HR module into other modules.

Here are some videos and pictures from the week (watch for links a bit later):

  • Monday
    • Flashmob (Video) – Erica, Chris, Lidiya, Dux and Marcy
    • AvePoint party at Hard Rock
  • Tuesday
    • Attendee Party (MS Video)  –  Mandalay Bay
  • Wednesday
    • Axceler party – Tryst
    • After party at Caesar's
    • After after party at Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay
  • Thursday
    • ACS Party – Tryst
  • Friday
    • Fabian Williams Wedding!

You can also check out my PowerShell script for getting all the PowerPoints and Videos here:


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