A bit of news has started to come out about SharePoint 2016. On February 2, Microsoft posted an “Evolution of SharePoint”blog post. The post is mostly thematic in its approach (talking about concepts like management and extensibility). Several specific features from O365 are included as examples of the kinds of investments which Microsoft has been making. When it comes down specifically to the on premise (or hybrid premise-plus-cloud) SharePoint 2016 product, the details are fairly high level. The most interesting part is where it talks about how O365 investments have contributed “…SharePoint Server 2016 will offer customers enhanced, flexible deployment options, improved reliability, and new IT agility, enabled for massive scale.” Hybrid is a key theme in this post. It’s clear that Microsoft understands each customer will approach the cloud differently.
On February 19, Todd Klindt (a SharePoint consultant) posted a podcast with Bill Baer (a Senior Product Manager for SharePoint at Microsoft). One of the key messages of this podcast is that Microsoft Ignite in May is going to be a great place to learn more. For sure, there are a lot of sessions that will help give perspective. It does sound like this will be a very early look at SharePoint 2016, and it sounds like the public beta for SharePoint 2016 will be quite a bit later than Ignite.
So with not a lot of information available yet, how do you go about forming a strategy around SharePoint 2016? Well, here are a few pointers coming from a Sitrion perspective. First, it’s important to focus on your needs. It’s clear that Microsoft continues to invest in SharePoint, and it’s also clear that Microsoft wants to provide ways to leverage the cloud. So one of the first steps is looking at what you need to get from SharePoint and what use cases you may have for using the cloud (either entirely or in a hybrid fashion).
Next, you need to take a realistic view of how soon this affects your world. In our customer base, more than half of the user seats are on SharePoint 2010 or earlier. In most cases, companies tend to estimate their upgrade timelines to be much more rapid than what actually happens. In laying out your plan, you’ll want to know what to expect from both Microsoft and your vendors. It sounds like Ignite will give more information on the Microsoft side. So far, the only things I’ve heard beyond the blog post is that SharePoint 2016 won’t have more native social features beyond what was built into SharePoint 2013 and it will still support full trust code (both of these statements were made at the last SharePoint Conference.)
Sitrion plans to ship a version of our Sitrion Social product for SharePoint 2016. Given that full trust code is supported and new social features are not planned, we believe we’ll be able to offer a smooth and consistent experience for people moving between SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint P2013 and SharePoint 2016. And, of course, we continue to look at the use cases people want on premise, hybrid, and mobile. We always look forward to new technology coming out from Microsoft because one of our key value propositions is letting our customers leverage the investments they’ve made in those products.
So it’s a little early to truly form strategy. We’re at the point where not all of the pieces to the puzzle are even visible. But there will be new capabilities coming, and lots of opportunities to learn about them in the coming months.