SharePoint 2016 Roadmap Update Announcement

Big news today coming from Microsoft on SharePoint 2016. Seth Patton, Senior Director of Product Management for the SharePoint Team, provided us an update on SharePoint 2016 at the Office Blogs. If you are interested in what Microsoft has released regarding SharePoint 2016, I highly recommend you read the post, but there a few points made (explicitly and implicitly) that I would like to highlight.

What first caught my eye is the chart laying out the three main focuses of SharePoint 2016 which includes Improved User Experiences, Cloud-Inspired Infrastructure and Compliance and Reporting.

First on the list? Improved User Experiences and in particular Mobile Experiences. Although I am not surprised after my more recent conversations with Microsoft, I hope this helps show others that the Product Team is listening. We can’t say for sure what improved “Mobile Experiences” will mean, but outside of existing and new mobile apps, I have to assume that a responsive / mobile friendly master page is on its way. Maybe we will get a glimpse of this in May at Ignite, but don’t hold your breath.

They also note people-centric file storage and collaboration. This is a nod to Microsoft’s continued efforts towards One Drive and Yammer Integration for SharePoint. This will be exciting to watch as these cloud platforms continue to improve their hybrid interfaces so as to integrate well with on-prem farms.

We also want to confirm our commitment to delivering on-premises releases of SharePoint for the foreseeable future. We envision a future where we will continue to have customers who choose a combination of on-premises, cloud and hybrid deployments for many years to come.

They further drive home the message that although there is an on-premise solution, they want organizations to take advantage of the cloud innovation’s through hybrid deployments. Most importantly though they reiterate their commitment to on-prem for the foreseeable future (head nod to SharePoint 2019? I’m taking bets now). I hope this helps alleviate the knee-jerk panic I have seen from others saying SharePoint is dead. The branding may change, but SharePoint has a long future.

In particular we are focused on delivering value to customers as part of their on-premises deployments, while at the same time making it easier to take advantage of cloud innovation thru hybrid deployments of SharePoint Server with Office 365.

I truly believe that we will continue to see almost all innovation in Office 365 moving forward, but Microsoft is stating that they will continue to improve SharePoint on-prem. Some features such as Yammer, Delve and others may always be cloud based solutions, but expect interfaces for a hybrid approach.

SharePoint 2016 is the first on-premises server release representative of our experience running SharePoint at scale in Office 365, bringing our own internal investments to your datacenter that improve performance, reliability and scale as well as enabling true hybrid scenarios that can enrich your existing on-premises investments.

Now that is an interesting point that means quite a bit for the larger farms. Past versions of SharePoint were “supposed” to be cloud ready, but go ask cloud providers such as RackSpace or FPWeb just how cloud ready they were. I think it is obvious that when Microsoft built their own SharePoint cloud offering, i.e. SharePoint Online, they found, shall we say, room for improvement. But if you re-read the above quote from Seth, we can gather that SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2016 will be running the same, or very similar code-bases. Sure, a few features will also be O365 only, but with SharePoint 2016 we can expect an improved core, truly cloud ready for our own environments.

The SharePoint community has spoken and Microsoft has listened. Looking forward to the live previews at Ignite as well as other announcements I’m sure Microsoft will have. If you are going to Ignite, don’t forget to join me and Naomi Moneypenny on Thursday May 7th, 2015 at 1:30pm CST where we are presenting a session on Yammer and SharePoint integration. Rest assured I will give you as much insight into SharePoint 2016 as I am allowed.

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