Over the last few years, the SharePoint brand had become buried within the broader messaging surrounding Office 365 and Microsoft’s push toward the cloud. In fact, the cloud messaging was so strong that many thought we had seen the last on-premises release with SharePoint 2013. But with the news of SharePoint 2016, Microsoft has reinforced its messaging around ongoing support for SharePoint on-prem as well as for the cloud, and is already talking about the next on-prem release after SP2016.
Microsoft has stated that they will continue to develop and deliver SharePoint on-premises as long as customers are buying it — and the number of net-new deployments continues to grow.
For organizations who have made massive investments in SharePoint on-prem, the SharePoint Server 2016 release is a fortification of the SharePoint brand, and an optimistic signal that Microsoft not only understands their unique business requirements and cloud concerns, but that the company will continue to innovate on the platform.
SharePoint Server 2016 is a foundational release for Microsoft, this being the first on-prem release since Microsoft moved primary development to the cloud. What this means is that all innovation is developed on a single code base, and for the cloud. Within a two to three-year development cadence, the product team will then “fork” their code and customize the platform for on-prem delivery. Not everything developed for SharePoint Online (part of Office 365) can be or should be delivered for on-prem, as they rely heavily on the scale and dynamic nature of the cloud to deliver things like Office Graph and Delve.
However, much of what we’ll see from this release will support Microsoft’s hybrid strategy. The focus is still very much on the cloud, and what we’ll see on-prem has largely already been delivered for the cloud. But by connecting Office 365 experiences to on-prem data sources, organizations who cannot or will not move to the cloud will be able to leverage these cloud experiences — and make a transition to the cloud through these hybrid capabilities.
The biggest hybrid feature within SP2016 is most certainly Hybrid Cloud Search. By reading your on-prem SharePoint search index, Office 365 is now able to provide a unified search experience across local and cloud environments when access via the Office 365 search experience. What this means is that your on-prem data becomes yet another data source, and will enable that data to appear within Delve and Office 365 eDiscovery. You can find out more about the latest SP2016 Beta 2 features here.
Unlike many of its pure-cloud competitors, Microsoft has a huge opportunity with hybrid where they can offer features that bridge the gap between on prem and the cloud. So instead of pushing people to the cloud (“We’re all in! Are you all in!?”) hybrid solutions become more of a “pull” strategy, enticing customers with expanded hybrid capability.
In my experience, there are three primary reasons that customers push back on moving some or all of their production systems to the cloud:
- A lack of control over the user experience
- The lack of governance/administration parity between online and on-prem
The Office 365 team is working hard at answering all three, but they are all issues that organizations must address as part of their planning efforts. Microsoft is beginning to realize that a hybrid SharePoint environment is a transition for many, but hybrid will be a permanent state for a solid minority of customers. As Microsoft adds Office 365 and Azure data centers around the world, and continues their strategy of achieving various industry standards around security, compliance and governance, the number of organizations insisting on maintaining their own server infrastructure will decrease. Until then, hybrid will remain.
While Microsoft makes continued investments into hybrid, Beezy has also been hard at work to support organizations with hybrid deployments. With our latest release (Version 3), we now fully support Office 365 as well as SharePoint on-prem (2010 and 2013). By providing a unified UX across on-prem and online, we allow organizations operating a hybrid SharePoint environment to provide a consistent user experience with our award-winning UX and advanced collaboration features. You can learn more about the latest Beezy offering through a recent blog post, or by scheduling a personal demo. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org