Future of SharePoint Keynote Summary and My Key Takeaways

Ever since Microsoft RTMed SharePoint 2016 in March 2016, one event every SharePointers were looking forward to was – “Future of SharePoint” on May 4th, 2016.

futuresharepoint

Even though this event was marked as SharePoint 2016 GA availability, how Microsoft used it to instill the confidence in SharePoint community is a masterstroke in my book. Personally, I was looking forward to this event to see where I want to focus shortly as far as technology. As a SharePoint brand, there were few questions and Microsoft needed to answer. I won’t lie if I say I was approaching this event very cautiously but after the event – my faith in SharePoint on both Office 365 and On-premises have been restored.

In a nutshell, this was a vision and roadmap event specifically focused on SharePoint. As expected, the event was well marketed and well attended. There were some bold announcements and demos. Most of them are in the process of being rolled out in the SharePoint Online. This tweet at the end of the event summarizes what I felt of SharePoint shortly at that time.

futuresharepoint-Tweet

Here are my key takeaways:

  • SharePoint is here to stay!! In fact, it’s been revitalized and modernized. The message has been reinforced – Innovations happens in a cloud, and few features will trickle down to the on-premises over the time.
  • “SharePoint” as a brand is brought back in Office 365!! No more, it’s branded as “Sites” app. It’s a small change like this regains confidence from the community.
  • Office 365 Groups are the NEW center of gravity in a cloud product. SharePoint team sites are re-branded with Office 365 Groups UI, but two-way integration will challenge traditional hierarchical information architecture. Documents will flow horizontally across products rather than hierarchical SharePoint team sites in Office 365. Additionally, tight integration of SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Office 365 Groups, and other Office 365 products will reinvent what we think of a modern collaboration on office platforms.
  • Although Microsoft has delivered contextual and relevant SharePoint Online home page (similar to Delve UI) as Intranet in your pocket offering, my take here is that most of the organizations will create their own intranet home pages powered with Office Graph & Delve based UI. Ability to support customized version of Intranet home pages is critical. There will be requirements from customers to support customized version of the home page on “SharePoint” mobile app and browser experiences home page.
  • SharePoint On-premises are here to stay!! SharePoint Online & Office365 will innovate first, and particular features will be pushed down to the On-Premises as feature backs. I won’t be surprised if feature packs replace existing service pack model.
  • SharePoint Hybrid is must have best of both worlds. New SharePoint browser & mobile apps would require hybrid infrastructure to display data from both cloud and on-premises.
  • Office 365 Graph and new SharePoint client side framework are must in developers’ toolkit. Both of them are built on a modern JavaScript and REST-based programming standards. Developers will require learning 6th development/customization model in last 6 iterations of the product. Microsoft continues pushing developing on a platform rather than service based on solutions they must have seen in their customer experience programs. It’s time to learn web stack if you haven’t already – Node.Js, Yeoman, Gulp, TypeScript, Visual Studio Code, etc. It should be noted here is this is one more additional framework, it doesn’t replace Add-ins model released in SharePoint 2013 or Full trust model introduced in SharePoint 2007.
  • SharePoint and Office 365 professionals will have more challenges to architect solutions based on Office 365 only, SharePoint On-Premises only, or hybrid investments. Great SharePoint professional is key to success. The question of what’s supported/not supported, what’s licensed/not licensed, what’s enabled/disabled, architectural trade-offs will factor in how you architect information architecture and business processes. This is not new as of now, but tight integration with Office 365 Groups and SharePoint Online will create many challenges for customers who won’t use capabilities of whole Office 365 suite.

Here are my notes from the keynote:

Announcements

  • SharePoint 2016 On-Premises and Office Online Server (2016 version of Office Web Apps) GA available from today
  • SharePoint 2016 isn’t the last release, but it’s a foundation for future – forged in cloud, first cloud run source code packaged for on-premises, probably enhanced by feature packs rather than service packs

Future of SharePoint

  • Microsoft’s current focus is on 3G’s – Groups, Graph, and Governance (Notice – no SharePoint, rather than focusing on products vertically, Microsoft’s focus is across products and security/compliance).
  • New SharePoint Principles – In Cloud, On your on-premises, and In your Pocket, in other words – cloud first, mobile first but still supported for on-premises.
  • SharePoint is Core of Office 365 productivity suite – No kidding!!!!
  • SharePoint On-Premises Updates – Feature Packs for SharePoint – Subset of features available on top of SP2016, starting from 2017.

Files Access & Sharing Innovations

futuresharepoint-file access and sharing roadmap

  • A simple and powerful file on any device – intuitive browser experience.
  • Selective sync for OD4B & SPO document libraries. Sync shared folders in a roadmap.
  • Move or Copy OD4B files and folders to SharePoint.
  • New activity view pan for files (replacement for versioning?).
  • File Share/Document Analytics in OD4B (Likes and Shares coming in future as well).
  • Mobile app for SharePoint Online (SharePoint On-Premises support in roadmap including SharePoint 2013).

Reinventing SharePoint Intranets and Team Sites

futuresharepoint-intranet roadmap

  • Modern Intranets
    • Next-Gen, Responsive, and Mobile & Touch Friendly Intranets
    • Innovate on all three fronts – communication, collaboration, and custom apps.
    • Intranet on your pocket
      • New SharePoint home page, powered by Office Graph, contextual information, looks much similar to Delve UI. Show frequently visited sites or suggested sites based on your profile activities. It can show sites from both cloud and on-premises (requires hybrid configuration).
      • The intelligent discovery of content based on your activities. It shows pages, libraries, lists, and people. Again, similar to Delve UI.
      • New team and organizational news feature – News feature out of the box, will roll out in H2.
    • Intranet Web Experience
      • Renamed “Sites” tab to “SharePoint” to match mobile app name.
      • Frequent sites, suggested sites, Tiles view.
      • Instant search – people, sites, files, etc.
      • Easy new site creation – simplified and faster, requires you to select collaboration or publishing sites, you can also create Office 365 group in this wizard, will require enforcement of governance.
  • Modern Team Sites
    • Groups Integration – Each Team Site creation will create Office 365 Group and same true on another way around as well. Groups are tightly integrated into Office 365 with SharePoint team sites. Will roll out in H2.
    • Power Apps and Microsoft Flow integrated with SharePoint Online out of the box. This would allow it use SharePoint document libraries and lists as a data source. Possible replacements for workflow & forms workloads. Both products are in preview now. Will roll out in H2 this year.
    • New Home Page experience – Tied to group,  group name & members shows up, left-hand navigation still exists, you can bring in group features on team sites (e.g. conversations, etc.), by default – news & activities are available as tiles view, you can highlight document or blog article in news section, activities are documents with tiles view. It’s rolling out now.
    • New Pages experience – Mobile and touch friendly pages authoring experience, you can add documents, links, medias, etc. You have a gallery of OOB web parts (similar as Adobe AEM). It’s rolling out now.
    • New Document Library experience – looks & feels like OD4B, consistent experience. Quick contextual metadata editing experience, grid/thumbnail view experience, ability to pin feature, everything on your fingertip either via quick action bar or information panel, no more ribbon. It’s rolling out now.
    • New SharePoint Lists experience – Integration of OOB Microsoft flow UX and Power Apps and context are passed to these apps.  It’s rolling out now.
    • Team site activities and analytics – Modern graphical analytics.  It’s rolling out now.

Platform Extensibility

futuresharepoint-openconnected roadmap

futuresharepoint-SPDevTweet

  • Data Layer – Office Graph API – REST based, single end-point – we will have SP REST API available via Office 365 API shortly.
  • UI Layer – New SharePoint Framework – New JavaScript-based client side development layer, it’s backward compatible, it will be open source, client-side web parts & client side page/canvas applications framework – this framework will be released in Q3 for SPO as First Release and for on-premises as features packs hopefully in 2017.
  • SharePoint Bench – A SharePoint particular mock debugging environment to test development without needing of SharePoint in local VM.
  • Microsoft will deliver few responsive experiences based new SharePoint Framework. New SharePoint online document library experiences, Delve UI, & lightweight publishing model (Delve blog) are some of them.

Community and Microsoft Resources

New SharePoint Framework Reactions

Happy SharePointing!!!

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2 Responses to Future of SharePoint Keynote Summary and My Key Takeaways

  1. My TLDR is The Future of SharePoint is in the cloud, eventually coming to On-Premises. 🙂

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