With the emphasis on Office 365 and a longer than expected release cycle, it's understandable that there were some wondering if SharePoint 2016 would ever arrive. It's now firmly on its way, however, with public previews and a rumored mid-March release date.
We talked with Brian Alderman, a SharePoint guru with CBTNuggets who has traveled the world doing training, about his thoughts on what to be looking out for — and how Microsoft's broader strategy is reshaping the iconic office collaboration tool
It's an intriguing product that, less than a year ago, there was a question of whether that would even be an on-premise release, he told me.
I'm impressed by the fact that Microsoft has listened and said that everyone is not ready and might not ever be ready to move to the Office 365 version of the product.
In fact, Alderman said that there were three key areas that might make the lives of many SharePoint admins a whole lot easier.
You get to decide what gets installed out of the box, Alderman explained, touching on the new technology that pre-configures SharePoint installations so that everything you need — and nothing else — is there when you first get started.
It's made it easier for IT pros to just pick and install what they want, and the role is optimized, he said.
Liam Cleary has a run down on all the available MinRole options, and how to best use them.
Traditionally, patching used to involve downloading gigabytes of patches to each SharePoint server and potentially hours of downtime. No more, says Alderman.
To go from beta 2 to the release candidate, it was 3 small files and none were more than a few hundred megabytes, and it took maybe 30 minutes max — and it was flawless, Alderman said.
It's made it much easier for admins, because instead of having a four or five gigabytes for every server in your farm, we're talking about hundreds of megabytes, you just take one or two servers from the farm, run these two files, and then put them back in the farm and take out the next two servers.
Want more details? Check out the SharePoint 2016 Zero Downtime Patching guide.
Hybrid is here
Customers don't want everything up in the cloud, said Alderman, and Microsoft has listened, allowing easy integration of on-premise and cloud installations.
Microsoft's hosted Office 365 offering has a lot going for it: No hardware costs, with maintenance, patching, and security all handled by someone else.
As an admin, I'm think that's pretty cool, he said. But sometimes, some data is just too precious — or too regulated – to put to the cloud.
If you're totally on premise now, [Microsoft is] going to dangle a carrot and say it's easy to push part of it to the cloud, he said, such as a bank putting a more general employee portal on Office 365 while anyone actually touching financial data would have their portal kept on premise in SharePoint 2016.
And when can eager SharePoint admins expect all of this to go gold? Nothing has been officially announced yet, but he's hearing March 14 is the date.
For more of Alderman's advice, check out his on-demand course on SharePoint 2016 at CBTNuggets.