The time has come and SharePoint 2016 is finally out in Beta. What do you need to know about SharePoint 2016 and how has it moved on since SharePoint 2013?
The time has come and SharePoint 2016 is finally out in Beta. This release is the latest on-premises release since Office 365, demonstrating Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to on-premises experiences. The original release time has now been pushed back to Spring 2016. There’s an apparent good reason for this as Microsoft are hoping to get as much feedback as possible from clients and vendors which they can they incorporate into the product before its final release. But whilst that happens, what do you need to know about SharePoint 2016 and how have we moved on since SharePoint 2013?
SharePoint 2016 Vision and Value
So what is SharePoint 2016 all about? The main driver for this release was to enable those customers who are still not in a position to move to the cloud to utilize some of the newest and coolest innovations which cloud technologies provide. This is all wrapped up with better user experiences and more people-centric compliance.
This is all enabled by massive enhancements to hybrid infrastructure in SharePoint 2016 (the connection of your on-premises SharePoint sites to SharePoint Online/Office 365).
Why is it important for you? Even if you’re not on the cloud?
As a customer you don’t want to separate yourself from anything in the cloud and this could be your first step towards it. By leveraging both systems, organizations can allows secure access to applications and data from anywhere. This could be your first small step to the cloud.
The New Features of SharePoint 2016:
Improved User Experience with App Launcher and UI Changes
What’s important to note about Microsoft’s recent development with Office 365 is growing focus on user experience. It’s such a massive topic at the moment for not only vendors, but also clients, who are starting to realise the huge negative impact a bad user experience can have on adoption. In line with these trends, SharePoint 2016 have made a small but crucial UI change to the SharePoint ribbon. SharePoint 2016 has now updated the ribbon from SharePoint 2013 to match the Office 365 ribbon, meaning that if users are swapping between systems, there will be a consistent experience. It seems simple and it seems obvious, but it’s a growing commitment to user experience and simplicity, something SharePoint really needs.
Improved Mobile Touch Experiences
In addition to a consistent cross-screen experiences, SharePoint Server 2016 provides the latest technologies and standards for mobile push and information synchronization. With deep investment in HTML5, SharePoint Server 2016 provides IT professionals and designers with capabilities that enable device-specific targeting of content – a really interesting feature considering targeting and personalisation are on everyone’s minds at the moment. This helps ensure that users have access to the information they need, regardless of the screen they choose to access it on. As a company who are huge ambassadors of great user experiences, we love to see this. The out of the box mobile experiences on 2016 are still quite standard, although there is a new touch friendly interface. But with some customization and thought into the design, there’s the capability to create some really compelling mobile experiences for users in 2016.
One Drive for Business Hybrid Experiences
SharePoint 2016’s Hybrid OneDrive for Business is a great feature for those who want to take baby steps to the Cloud in a considered way. OneDrive for Business is turning out to be more than just a My Site. It aims to bring users to one place to help them work with their files regardless of where they are. What you can now do on 2016 is redirect your on-premises My Sites/OneDrive host to SharePoint Online OneDrive for Business.
Another great improvement is that this is 10 x easier for the administrator to set up, it’s as easy as following a wizard. Once it’s complete, any click of the One Drive link from on-premises will direct to One Drive in the Cloud. When the redirection is complete, users may begin moving or syncing files to the Cloud for storage, right away.
Sites Hybrid Experience
Following in the consistent end user experiences trends another new feature is the hybrid SharePoint sites option. If you have your sites both on premises and online and your users follow those sites, you want to make sure that they can find both of them in one central location.
By following the new hybrid SharePoint sites wizard, you get to configure a server to server connection that allows you to join features of both environments. When your users follow SharePoint sites a link to the sites is added to their followed sites list which is available to them from the top level navigation app launcher. A simple way for users to keep the list of their favourite, most frequently accessed sites regardless of where they are hosted.
Social Experiences Haven’t Changes
In SharePoint 2016, not a huge amount has changed social-wise since SharePoint 2013 and Office 365. We think this is mainly because so much investment has gone into Yammer which is now at the heart of Office 365, whilst SharePoint Social continues to deplete. So unless you use Yammer in your solution, you won’t see many improvements.
However, there are some admin changes being done around social. By using hybrid sites features, you can provide users with a seamless experience when they use 2016 and Office 365 together. It enables you to:
- Redirect users to their profiles in Office 365
- Consolidate users followed sites lists in Office 365.
Hybrid Deployment Automation is Much Easier
In previous version of SharePoint, it has been quite an undertaking to setup a successful hybrid scenario. In 2016, as Hybrid is such a massive focus for helping move people to the Cloud, Microsoft have put huge investments into simplifying and automating hybrid installations.
The new hybrid scenario picker is designed to help you get up and running quickly. It aims to programmatically configure all of the hybrid prerequisites for you including server to server and authentication connections. Basically ensuring that the technical implementation is no longer a blocker for your organisation to utilise the cloud.
Despite this not being one of the flashy new features of 2016, it’s important for anyone who is planning to open up their environment to the cloud and want to ensure they can control the flow of data.
SharePoint 2016 brings some of the features of the Compliance Centre that are currently featured on Office 365, on premises. The In-Place Policy Hold Center and the Compliance Center allow you to build your own policies and apply them against your environment. As an example new basic policies allow you to delete data in OneDrive for Business sites after a certain amount of years for example, similarly to the retention policies.
The Biggie - Next Generation Hybrid Search
And now onto the biggest focus of SharePoint 2016, the Next Generation Hybrid Search. What is so new about it? The best advancement is that it provides a truly unified search experience across SharePoint on-premises and SharePoint Online online for your end users. This is something that is crucial to ensure you get your users on board with the hybrid implementation. In the past when a hybrid search was setup, you were able to see separated lists of results from your on premises and SharePoint online within one page. It wasn’t possible to have a neatly combined list of results. With the Next Generation Cloud hybrid Search, you can now effectively index all of your content and therefore provide one set of results with combined search relevancy ranking. A hugely improved user experience.
In 2016 there are some great developments making it even easier to set up a hybrid environment including:
- New provisioning capabilities to help IT departments
- Hosting service providers to maximize existing in infrastructure investments whilst exploring new services
Learn more in our SharePoint 2016 Webinar Recording as we discuss:
- More detail on SharePoint 2016’s new features
- Changes to Role and Services
- Changes to Min Role
- Changes to Boundaries and Limits
- Operations changes
- Deprecated Features
- Our Review
- Where to go next for Upgrades and Migrations
Or to learn more about the solutions we design and build on SharePoint 2016, get in touch.