[Yes, you’re right. The product is now named SharePoint 2016. Since publishing this article, Microsoft has released a blog that refers to the upcoming version of SharePoint as SharePoint Server 2016. So, now we know…]
Why the next version of SharePoint will work best in a Hybrid Cloud
SharePoint 2013 set the pace that cloud deployments were the future of the platform.
SharePoint Online has been the main vehicle to the SharePoint cloud, and Microsoft (along with other IaaS providers) will happily explain the benefits of hosting and outsourcing your server management to focus your energy on innovation and use the new enterprise-resources to deploy quickly and get out in front of your competition.
Better/faster updates in the cloud
Microsoft made it very clear in Las Vegas nearly three years ago at SPC12 that if you wanted the latest and greatest updates as they came through, you needed SharePoint Online with Office 365. They discussed a tighter release schedule of new SharePoint versions, but promised that cloud deployments would see updates automatically as they were implemented.
Automatic updates are great for Office 365 users, but what if it’s still in-house?
Sure, it’s good news for customers who fit perfectly into the mold necessary to run Office 365 for your business, but, due to various reasons surrounding money, time, compliance, customization needs, etc., many organizations have stayed with SharePoint On-Premises and have watched with judging eyes as Microsoft directs all their development and releases to SharePoint online customers, giving them exclusive access to certain capabilities that in-house customers have to either custom install or wait until the next update.
And it looks like they can expect the same thing with the next iteration of SharePoint due for release likely in the third quarter of 2015.
SharePoint 2016: SharePoint Reloaded
The community had originally taken to christening it “SharePoint 2015” in the interim, but now we have learned from Microsoft that it will be named SharePoint 2016. And while it’s still mostly speculation at the moment, we expect the focus to remain on SharePoint Online with capabilities readily available for Office 365 customers, leaving on-premises customers waiting for theirs to ship, if the capabilities are even available to them.
Exclusive SharePoint 2016 capabilities with SharePoint Online
Directions on Microsoft’s December 2014 magazine states that “some new capabilities will probably only be available to SharePoint Online customers.” They offer up the example of Power BI for Office 365, which has been touted for its usefulness in creating interactive reports and charts, but is only available with SharePoint Online. It’s not groundbreaking news, but it is a reminder that in 2015, most organizations should at least be running a hybrid deployment of SharePoint where they are able to utilize both on-premises and cloud components as it best fits their business.
For some businesses with strict security or compliance regulations, that could mean keeping that sensitive data in house while hosting the web apps and production environment with a high-availability and easily scaled private cloud environment.
So, what else can users expect from SharePoint 2016?
According to the Directions on Microsoft article, several features will get a makeover with the updated version of SharePoint, and the improvements could further enhance SharePoint’s end goal, i.e. improving collaboration and productivity in the workplace. Based on DOM’s report, Microsoft is expected to place a priority on the following:
Expect more control of permissions when sharing links with outsiders. Microsoft’s cloud storage, OneDrive for Business, will see more and more enhancements and could even be made available for the Mac. They speculate this may even be integrated into later versions of Windows. Also, video sharing may become easier through a video sharing portal in SharePoint that makes training and marketing materials easier to distribute.
Always a staple of SharePoint, search will evolve even further with SharePoint 2016. Office 365 customers have been playing with new search and recommendation features and a new interface since September 2014 and have experienced more relevant results thanks to improved indexing and analysis features embedded in the new Delve content search functionality. Expect search and recommendations to pull from even more sources with SharePoint 2016 to create an enhanced personalized, defined search result.
While most of the features here will continue with business as usual, Office 365 customers were introduced to Office 365 Groups in September 2014. These groups invite discussion amongst users and encourage collaboration within specific workspaces that integrate SharePoint file sharing with Exchange-hosted group conversations. These are said to integrate Yammer discussions with the Lync to possibly join in the near future.
As stated earlier, Power BI will remain a key draw to SharePoint Online customers and will be the focus of any SharePoint BI improvements. It is expected that PowerPoint Services won’t receive improvements and could be cast out to sea soon by Microsoft.
Content management and compliance
Office 365 customers were introduced to SharePoint Online data loss prevention features in September 2014 as well. This feature recognizes sensitive data like social security numbers to help businesses comply with privacy regulations. Microsoft’s eDiscovery component locates and enforces data retention to protect data loss prevention for files that were downloaded from on-premises file shares. Also, there is mention of a long term plan from Microsoft to allow for content management wherever it lives, rather than having to move that data to SharePoint.
It should come as no surprise that Microsoft is working to make the migration process to Office 365 even easier. And with that, we expect them to improve the relationship or coexistence of SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-premises for hybrid environments.
Development and customization
Microsoft has directed a bit of attention to improving the functionality of Office 365. Expect enhancements in APIs and tools for file sharing, authentication and even development. Developers are rumored to be able to create Apps for SharePoint that finally handle the custom file types stored in SharePoint. This customization will extend to other parts of design to help catch the platform up with demand for improved responsive web design and web-based forms tools, among others. Also, we are expected to see discontinued support for sand-boxed solutions with server-side code in SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2016.
A new year, a new SharePoint, a new reason to go hybrid
So, with a lot to be excited for, it’s still the same message from Microsoft: Find a path to SharePoint Online to realize the full glory of SharePoint 2016. And the reply is still the same for SharePoint users and partners: A hybrid scenario that implements a private cloud (with dedicated resources so you can customize with third party web apps as you see fit) and an on-premises environment (for sensitive data or recovery purposes) is probably the best bet to achieve full SharePoint functionality that’s powered with the high-availability and performance of the cloud.
Learn how to leverage the best Hybrid scenario for your business with Fpweb.net’s managed SharePoint services!