Monday, 2 November 2009

SharePoint is clay?

I saw a tweet from Walton Smith ( that stated:


conf #e2conf-3 #olivermarks "Microsoft is foundational" SharePoint is clay, use it to build on, it is not there yet, but getting better


This got me thinking…


Sourced from:

Yes, in many respects SharePoint is a lump of clay, you can mould and shape it into whatever you want or need it to be (within reason). This covers the “SharePoint is a platform” side of things quite nicely. I’ll add that to my list of SharePoint analogies, similes and metaphors:


SharePoint is an Elephant

SharePoint is a Swiss Army Knife

SharePoint is a Toolbox

SharePoint is Lego


* list incomplete: let’s not even go near the Pizza, Burger, Washing Line or Drug Dealer ones ;)


The thing is, none of them actually cover it all…


Clay – does nothing until you mould it (“throw it” is, I believe, the correct terminology?).

Swiss Army Knife – does various things, straight OOTB, but you can’t extend it.

Toolbox – tools do nothing by themselves.

Lego – arrives needing assembly.

Elephant - (my personal favourite) see Woody’s post


I was working on a Camera simile:


Image Sourced from: SharePoint is like a DSLR. You buy a kit and you can take photo’s straight OOTB. But, you can extend the functionality you get (or, indeed, the quality of the results) by adding specialist lens, a flashgun, a battery grip…


This is close, but I can’t really think of anything you “make yourself”, which is, for me, one of really compelling elements of SharePoint.


Steve Ballmer said (during his keynote at SPC09) “What is SharePoint? … It’s kinds like an operating system” – I don’t really like this…


I have also been working on the “house” (not the TV series) simile:


SharePoint is like your (new build) house. Yours is based on the same materials as the guy next door, but your is different. Your house serves several purposes straight away.

You can extend your house, either yourself or by having a specialist come in and do it for you.

You can decorate your house in anyway you choose.

If you don’t like part of your house you can rip down a wall to change it. Some walls are more expensive to rip down than others.

If you don’t like part of your house you can build a new wall to change it. Some walls are more expensive to build than others.

If you really wanted a house with a pool, but couldn’t afford one, you can add it later.

You may not have wanted or needed the double garage, but the house came with it anyway, you don’t have to use it. But even if you don’t use it, you’re still paying for it.

You didn't need to worry about integrating your house with mains electricity or water, it came like that.



I think this one has legs ;)

Plumbing, foundations, security, culture, adoption, accessibility… They all ought to work ;)

I could also add: The architect who designed your house will probably never live in it


So, my quest for the perfect analogy, simile and/or metaphor continues… Clay is good, I like it and will probably use it, but it isn’t perfect…


I like the “House” – what do you think ??


  1. I like the "Clay" analogy...but I would wouldn't I!

  2. The architect that designed your house is now actually living in it with BPOS and SP Online. To this extent a lot of the enhancments are driven to enhance operational support. Lessons learnt the hard way one could argue

  3. @peter, I think the majority of the "IT Pro" enhancements are based on lessons learned, in fact I'd wonder what was going on if they weren't!

  4. Cool site! Looking forward to checking it out more!


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