Thursday, October 27, 2011

Microsoft SharePoint and Agility

SharePoint is a becoming natural choice for enabling key capabilities of an Enterprise such as Collaboration, Social Computing, BI, Web Content Management, Document Management, Portals / web applications targeting both intranet & internet users etc. . Perception on SharePoint is gradually changing from a simple COTS product to very flexible platform. Especially the custom development & integration capabilities of SharePoint platform is a door opener for lots of opportunities. In fact, in some of the Enterprises, SharePoint is becoming the default development platform.

Recent research report from Forrester highlights that SharePoint is gaining very wide adoption in large organizations. Given that the capabilities of SharePoint can address most of the needs of an Enterprise, Enterprises which are planning to leverage the full potential of the SharePoint platform may end up in an IT portfolio where major portion will be solutions based on SharePoint. Hence, Enterprise Agility of those Enterprises will have more dependency on SharePoint.

Enterprise Agility of an Enterprise depends on its IT Portfolio. If the IT portfolio is based on the home grown solutions and COTS products which do not support agility, then Enterprise agility will be affected. Investments in COTS products can be maximized only if those products are customizable / supports wider custom development. Based on how “Testable” the “Customizable” parts of the COTS products of an IT portfolio, Enterprise will have impact on Maintainability, TCO and Agility.

True agility is considered to be achieved only when a change in business / functional requirement is achievable with minimal time – when you have a piece of code developed and if an automated unit testing capability can be leveraged to test that piece of code, then your overall time for development , testing & deployment will decrease.

Testability & loose coupling are 2 key paths to Agility. In SharePoint, when it comes to custom development, Web Parts are predominantly used to address business / functional needs. These Web Parts are “Testable” when they are built based on MVP pattern. These web parts can leverage Automated Unit Testing capabilities. These MVP based web parts are de-coupled from the environment, data source & UI. Hence they are unit testable through Mock objects

A combination of Microsoft’s PEX & Moles framework & VSTS 2010 can be used for performing automated unit tests on MVP based (Testable) web parts.

Loose coupling can be achieved through Service Locator pattern provided by SharePoint guidance from Microsoft Patterns & Practices – compass for the best practices adoption in SharePoint based development. When there is a change is the actual service provider, we can deploy that as a separate assembly and change can be enabled in the main application without re-compilation

So, the conclusion here is - Once a SharePoint based development is planned with these 2 things in mind – Testable & Loose coupling through MVP pattern based web parts to leverage Automated Unit Testing framework and Service Locator pattern respectively, time required to respond to changing business requirements will decrease and hence will have a positive impact on Enterprise Agility !