If your organisation runs SharePoint 2010 or 2013, you’re probably curious about the next on-premise SharePoint version: SharePoint 2016.

Our clients are certainly interested. With SharePoint 2016 just moments from release, they want to know what’s knew and if they should upgrade.

To answer these questions, here is a quick list of what every CIO should know about the newest member of the SharePoint family.

 

 1. New focus on hybrid connectivity

Cloud-based intranets like SharePoint Online have lower upfront costs and greater flexibility than their on-premise counterparts. But it’s not always workable to move to a fully cloud-based solution.

This is especially true if you need to keep data on-site for compliance reasons.

To address this, SharePoint 2016 integrates sites and libraries across on-premise and cloud deployments. Microsoft calls these hybrid scenarios ‘cloud accelerated experiences,’ and they include:

  • hybrid search
  • file synchronisation with OneDrive for Business
  • hybrid sites
  • integrated profiles for on-premise and cloud.

 

2. Increased data loss prevention

SharePoint 2016 also introduces Data Loss Prevention, or DLP. These capabilities make it harder for users to find and share sensitive data.

Cloud products including Office 365, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business have used DLP for some time. However, SharePoint 2016 is the first on-premise product to offer DLP straight out of the box.

The result is a more secure and compliant SharePoint environment.

 

3. More powerful hybrid search

Microsoft first added hybrid search to SharePoint in 2013. While it got the job done, it wasn’t all the way there. Search results from on-premise and cloud sources did not integrate. Users had trouble working out which results were most relevant.

Not so in SharePoint 2016. This time, SharePoint’s unified search integrates on-premise and cloud sources for the same query.

This delivers a seamless user experience. It also bridges the gap between cloud and on-premise search queries.

 

4. Goodbye SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Designer

SharePoint Foundation, the free underlying technology for SharePoint on-premise deployments, will not be available with SharePoint 2016, but users can still use the 2013 version.

NB: If you want to trial SharePoint, sign up for a free one-month Office 365 subscription that includes access to SharePoint Online. Talk to us about how to get started.

While the SharePoint 2010 workflows remained a native part of SharePoint 2013, the SharePoint 2013 workflow engine was decoupled and became a server of its own. The reason for decoupling was to help with scale and independent updates. So we might see a new workflow client that has nothing to do with SharePoint.

It’s getting difficult to predict where Microsoft is going with SharePoint Designer as no 2016 version has been released. Microsoft has not announced if it will substitute a new tool for SharePoint Designer in SharePoint 2016. We’ll keep you updated as we find out more.

 

5. Operating, patching and updates to become easier

Microsoft says SharePoint 2016 will be simpler to use, patch and update than previous versions.

The anticipated MinRole feature of SharePoint 2016 will enable an administrator to simply define what role a particular server needs to perform in the farm and SharePoint will automatically configure the relevant services.

There’s also a faster way to provision new site collections with SharePoint Fast Site Collection Creation, reducing the number of roundtrips required to provision a site collection by performing operations directly in the content database (via cloning/ copying) using PowerShell. In the tests that were performed, the speed of creating a new site collection from a site master was approximately 70% quicker than creating a site collection without one. Although not drastically quicker, it all adds up when a large number site collections need to be provisioned.

 

6. No more Excel Services

Excel functionality has moved from Excel Services to Office Online Server in SharePoint 2016.  But all the features which users are familiar with and love about Excel Services lives on. Microsoft moved Excel services and all relevant capabilities to the Office Online Server to reduce complexity and confusion as a matter of consolidation and clarification.

This means if you used Excel Services functionality you must develop a budget and deployment plan for Office Online Server if you plan to deploy SharePoint Server 2016.

 

7. SharePoint 2016 won’t be the last on-premise SharePoint release

It is natural for clients and prospective clients to wonder whether SharePoint 2016 will be the final on-premise SharePoint release.

After all, SharePoint 2016 focuses on hybrid experiences. It also borrows features like data loss prevention from Office 365 and SharePoint Online.

However, Microsoft is adamant there will be more on-premise SharePoint releases in the future.

 

Should you upgrade?

Clients running SharePoint 2010 may need specialist support to shift content into a new SharePoint deployment.

The upgrade process is more straightforward if you are either:

  • using SharePoint 2013, or
  • planning to move from SharePoint 2010 or 2013 to SharePoint Online.

For a detailed overview of what’s new, register now for our upcoming seminars on SharePoint Server 2016.

You can read more about Professional Advantage and SharePoint here.

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