Hybrid Future of SharePoint 2016Great blog by Julia White this morning on The Evolution of SharePoint http://blogs.office.com/2015/02/02/evolution-sharepoint/

Here’s my reading of the key takeaways that I see in for the future of SharePoint and its in place in the overall Office 365 platform:

  • The name of the next version is SharePoint Server 2016, so that tells us what we see at Ignite in May will be preview & glimpses.
  • This also means there is still opportunity for customer feedback in the process to some extent.
  • Hybrid is important to customers to adopt at their preferred time/pace, it will allow the adoption of ‘cloud innovation’ on their terms
  • Microsoft is listening
  • Think of capabilities instead of specific product names. Search, Portals, Files, Team Sites, Business Intelligence and Social. Seems trivial but it isn’t. If you identify your role, your passion, your expertise, your skillset very specifically with a particular product, this is a pointed indicator to ramp up learning and start pivoting into capabilities that go more generally across all the Office platform.

For IT Professionals:

  • SP 2016’s back end re-architected based on experience scaling/running of SPO
  • Effectively, this means that SharePoint Server 2016 has been re-‘born in the cloud’, and ported back to on-prem
  • SP 2016 will make it easier for IT to admin (less patching & maintenance)
  • Developers are key for a healthy ecosystem, APIs are the preferred route of interacting (not sandbox or farm solutions)
  • Simplified governance and management across the permutations/combinations of your hybrid stack. In the realm of this new world, you might consider to keep your data on prem but move your AD to Azure AD…

For End Users:

  • New experiences (i.e. you’ll be able to see your stuff and use it) on any device and any platform
  • Quoting from Julia’s post “cross-suite, blending experiences across Office 365 and blurring the lines across traditional product silos” this is huge. Ever wondered what the real difference is nowadays between Word and PowerPoint? New authoring experiences like Sway and Office Mix are already blurring the boundaries and we could think in the future about a universal ‘compose’ button, that wouldn’t be connected a specific file type. Windows 10 brings us ever closer to that vision as does OneNote’s amazing capability to ingest content from many sources. As a different example, when it comes to Files, does it matter from an end user perspective where they are stored – end users don’t need to know if it’s OneDrive for Business or SharePoint etc. as long as they are surfaced by Search, powered by OfficeGraph.
  • Portals as a (Business) Solution: “In 2015, we’ll add new portals focused on knowledge management and people, as well.” This is ridiculously important. My interpretation is that this year we’re going to see portal solutions instead of templates in the next version.  Again, this is indicator of a ‘service’ offering not a product one. As we at say at ManyWorlds, ‘moving up the layer of abstraction’. Offering new portals with targeted business purpose is a fantastic way to drive adoption with end users, who don’t care if its SharePoint, OneDrive or Yammer, they need a way to get things done.
  • These ‘solutions’ are going to be delivered over time, so in fact even though the next version is 2016, it’s like a partial rollout first, i.e. the way the cloud deploys, but coming to on prem. Not waiting until 2016 when the product comes out. So these solutions will be delivered in Office 365 first, battle tested, and then likely be available on prem.

Overall, even if you are just on-prem right now, I think watching SharePoint Online and in fact the whole Office 365 platform is very important input to your organization’s technology strategy. In terms of watching for vNext, it will always come to the cloud first. Julia’s blog post is phrased in terms of evolution and this does imply a more Darwinist approach to things that are working and things that are not.

In the words of William Gibson, “The future is already here, just unevenly distributed”.

(6.07pm CST I edited some of my points for clarity, since I wrote this very quickly and I blog like I speak which sometimes needs a few more words to be clear in the visual mode :))