As part of SharePoint 2010 launch, I had the opportunity to visit SharePoint customers and partners in Russia and Australia. It was great to be able to participate in events as well as have meaningful 1:1 conversations. There’s a lot of excitement with the SharePoint 2010 & Office 2010 launch!

Russia

It was my first time visiting Russia and I must say that Russia is a beautiful country with rich culture and history. I was invited by the Microsoft Russia IW & DPE team and the local SharePoint user group. I had an opportunity to participate in the DOCFLOW conference and local user group SharePoint Conference. Here are some of my observations:

  • There’s a lot of opportunity for SharePoint 2010. Sales over the last 3 years have grown 300% in Russia, so there is definitely growing demand. However, there is definitely room for even wider adoption across multiple scenarios and organizations. One of the most popular scenarios I heard about was the automation of business processes – and while this is an important scenario, there is a lot more SharePoint can do. :-)
  • There’s a lot of interest in Document Workflow & ECM scenarios.  ECM in Russia is quite different from ECM in North America.  I had an opportunity to meet several Russian ISVs that have built solutions on top of SharePoint to deliver ECM solutions for the Russian market.
  • Many partners build solutions and deliver services. I didn’t meet any pure ISVs. Most of the partners build solutions to sell services. Also, what was interesting was that many partners consider selling SharePoint as part of their business. 
  • LOB Integration is a very interesting scenario for many customers & partners. Business Connectivity Services has a lot of potential especially to integrate with popular backend systems. One local accounting software package that came up a lot in conversations was 1C.
  • There’s a growing SharePoint User Community. I had an opportunity to present to 300-400 user group members comprising of customers & partners. You can watch my presentation @ Video Recording of your keynote at SharePoint Community Conference (in English). 
  • Most popular question (surprisingly): What’s the Plan for 15? Here’s a quote from a partner that sums this up: “2010 is here. We think it’s great. But that’s today. Tell us about the future?” :-)
  • Press. I did a few interviews that you can watch here. It’s translated into Russian!

Australia

I was invited to keynote at the Australia SharePoint Conference on June 16th, 2010, in Sydney, Australia. Beyond the keynote, I met with a number of customers that the Australian subsidiary helped organize. I also had an opportunity to engage with press, sync with MVPs & the Microsoft field. Here are some of my observations:

  • Internet Sites is in hot demand. It was absolutely fantastic to see the customer interest with SharePoint for .COM publishing sites. Almost every customer I spoke to was interested in using SharePoint for their external websites.  
  • Customers are planning large deployments. One of the customers I met is looking to deploy SharePoint 2010 to hundreds of thousands of students & teachers! Absolutely fascinating how SharePoint will change the way students & teachers learn, teach & share.  There was interest in understanding how storage could be managed from a cost and ops perspective.
  • Sandboxed Solutions was a hot topic. This was an especially popular topic amongst MVPs. I blogged about it and linked to a video of an interview on the subject @ http://blogs.msdn.com/b/arpans/archive/2010/06/18/sharepoint-sandboxed-solutions.aspx.
  • People want to know more about upgrade. Many of the customers I spoke with wanted to understand the 1) benefits of upgrading & 2) implications of upgrade.
  • Benefits of Upgrade. It’s important to focus on the business benefits that highlight the core value proposition of SharePoint 2010: providing the best productivity experience to accelerate adoption, cutting costs through consolidation/unified infrastructure and the ability for SharePoint to allow businesses to rapidly respond. What was also helpful in my discussions with customers & partners was the Forrester whitepaper that highlights SharePoint 2010 ROI @ http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9730143.
  • Implications. It’s surprising how many customers, even “advanced customers”, didn’t know all the system requirements for SharePoint 2010: 64-bit hardware, Windows Server 2008, 64-bit SQL, memory requirements and lack of IE 6.0 support. The last one, especially, is something that I continuously reminded folks of. I recommend customers check out the Upgrade Resource Center on TechNet