Current state of Microsoft Azure App Services Platform

It’s been close to a year, I have started playing with Azure Functions and Azure Logic Apps. With the growing demand for Azure Serverless architecture, Azure App Services platform is becoming more mature than ever. In this article, I am posting my notes on the current state of the Azure App Services platform. For the most recent information, please review here –

Key Info


  • Focus more on delivering business value, rather than focusing on building and maintaining plumbing of apps.
  • Ease of use, no need to worry about infrastructure plumbing.
  • Scalability – scale up or down as needed.
  • Pay for what you use – cost effective.

Azure PaaS and Azure App Services Overview

  • It mainly focuses on an application platform, integration, and business process management.
  • It includes Azure App Services or SQL Azure.
  • Azure Service Fabric – Abstraction the underlying VM resources, fabric provides additional features like authentication/authorization, hybrid connectivity, support & troubleshooting, analytics etc.
  • Major App Services
    • Web Apps – to host web applications with ease.
    • Mobile Apps – to host backend for mobile devices, e.g. mobile clients offline & sync when it’s back up, push notifications.
    • API Apps  – to expose web APIs.
    • Logic Apps – for complex workflows and automate business processes, to orchestrate APIs & data into business processes.
    • Function Apps – an independent server-less piece of code to respond to events, it intercept event, process them and output somewhere.

Azure Web Apps

  • A website-as-a-service, traditional Web Apps hosting environment minus – abstraction of infrastructure plumbing (servers, VMs, IIS server installation), OS update, firewall & network setting etc. This allows us to focus more on delivering business value, rather than focusing on building and maintaining plumbing of apps.
  • Major Features
    • Host web apps – .NET, Java, Node.js, Python, PHP
    • SLA – 99.95%
    • Custom domains and SSL certs.
    • Deployment slots for pre-production testing.
    • Easy to setup continuous deployment.
    • Auto or Manual scaling
    • OOB Authentication and Authorization with default providers like Azure AD.
    • Load balance apps with traffic management.
    • Hybrid connections with on-premises data.
    • Visual Studio and VSTS integration – allows you to publish to specific App service from VS

Azure Mobile Apps

  • It’s a service or a backend for your mobile apps, provide mobile capabilities to the mobile client.
  • Mobile App is a cross-platform and supports default authentication providers like Azure AD.
    • Mobile App backend – .NET and Node.js, it looks much similar to Azure API project.
    • Mobile Client Application – SDK available for – iOS, Android, Windows, Xamarin, Cordova, used on Visual Studio mobile apps like Windows 8 App.
  • Major Features
    • Offline Sync – It’s using SQLite OOB, you can choose your own SQL provider.
    • Push Notifications – It’s using Notification Hubs, abstracts platform complexities, sends notifications to individual platform (iOs, Android, Windows etc.) services, allows scale to send multiple notifications, also provides telemetry.

Azure API Apps

  • Allows you to host and expose your APIs for a distributed architecture.
  • Major Features
    • It supports default authentication providers like Azure AD & social providers.
    • Can host existing APIs (.NET, Java, PHP, Node.js, and Python).
    • Exposes API definition in the form of metadata in JSON format (using Swagger 2.0), enables client applications to know which operations to call and how to call them, it makes API discoverable, NET API uses Swashbuckle library to generate Swagger API definition, also have Swagger UI to test APIs, supports consumption of APIs in VS or command line to generate code for client applications (.NET, Node.js, Java, JavaScript).
    • Supports CORS (Cross Origin Resource Sharing) for cross-domain client-side AJAX (XMLHttpRequest) call. Configure allowed origins on Azure Portal.
    • Integrates nicely with Azure Logic Apps.
    • Integrates with API management & telemetry.
    • Also supports all App services features like scalability, redundancy or deployment slots.

Azure Logic Apps

  • Allows you to create functional/business logic workflows by orchestrating software as service components (like API or data).
  • Allows you to visually compose the workflows on Azure Portal logic apps designer or Visual Studio (with logic apps extensions). Alternatively, you can use code view in logic apps definition language in JSON format.
  • Major features
    • Connectors – basic components powers logic apps, exposes functionalities, allows you to easily connect with other logic apps or third party apps.
      • Your Connectors (e.g. Azure API Apps, Azure Logic Apps, Azure Functions), hosted in Azure in your region.
      • Microsoft Managed APIs (e.g. Office 365, Azure Blob, Dropbox, GitHub, Facebook, FTP etc.), hosted and managed centrally by Microsoft available as part of Azure.
      • Marketplace Connectors from third-party companies (e.g. SAP, Oracle, DB2 etc.), hosted in Azure in the same region, you pay per use.
    • Triggers – kick off logic apps manually, scheduled, or by events (by email or updating SP list), connectors can be triggers, poll triggers (logic app polls the connectors when the event is fired) or push triggers (logic apps notified by connectors when the event is fired).
    • Actions and Conditions – triggers kick off actions when some conditions are met, connectors can be actions, actions can be sending an email, posting messages to slack etc.
    • It uses logics apps definition language (in JSON format), create in the Azure portal or Visual Studio.
    • Lots of out of box templates available.
    • Robust and reliable – supports retry

Azure Function Apps

  • Allows you to respond to events and run worker processes by intercepting or triggered by external events.
  • They are an evolution of Azure WebJobs and executes a piece of code. It’s a piece of code that we can call anytime, it will scale automatically, and you can pay when you use it without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.
  • Major Features
    • You can write (C#, Node.js, Python, PHP, bash, Java, PowerShell and lot more) and run code (any executables) in Azure functions.
    • Triggers – Can be triggered by many various concepts (e.g. Event Hubs, Service Bus, Timer, HTTP request, Blob Storage, Azure Storage Queues etc.), when Azure function triggers, it runs the application in it.
    • Serverless architecture – Allows you to specify how much memory needed to run functions. Functions can scale and create as many as instances until it reaches memory usage.
    • Bindings – Allows you to input and output values to/from functions.
    • Templates – Predefined trigger templates for all kind of languages and scenarios.
    • Parallel Execution – Runs as many as instances until available resources (e.g. memory) caps.
    • Azure Portal support – Allows you have a code editor, log console, and ability to run/test.

Additional Features

  • Azure WebJobs
    • Allows you to run background processes or a batch job in the context of the azure app, it’s a background service as a service, think of it as a windows service in a cloud without worrying about underlying platform.
    • Web App can have one or more WebJobs, both web apps and web jobs can share same resources, the performance of one may affect others if web jobs are hosted on the same web app, it is best practice to host web jobs on the separate web app.
    • It is supported for Web Apps, Mobile Apps, and API Apps.
    • It supports azure web jobs or .exe, .cmd, .bat. .sh, .php, .py, .js, .jar, and ps1
    • Same SLA as the main service.
    • Can be triggered by outside sources like Azure Storage Queue, Storage blob, web hooks etc.
    • They are reliable if they fail – it will try again.
    • Can be triggered manually or scheduled.
    • Can process triggers in parallel.
  • Azure Deployment Slots
    • Ability to run multiple versions of your apps. Allows you to test in both production and pre-production environment. Also, allows you to route some of the production users to the pre-production environment for testing.
    • Supported for Web Apps, Mobile Apps, and API Apps.
    • Deploy it with no downtime by swapping production and pre-production environment. Azure swaps VIPs behind the scene.
    • Depending on your pricing tier, you can create up to 19 deployment slots, it can host web app and will incur cost just like any other production app. You can’t scale deployment slots. May not be the best environment for the performance test.
Posted in Microsoft Azure | Leave a comment

Future of Agile and Social Collaboration – Yammer redefines Enterprise Social as Digital Workspace by integration with Office 365 Groups

Ever since Microsoft had acquired Yammer just before SharePoint 2013 release in July 2012, there has been love and hate relationship with Yammer as Enterprise Social solution in organizations adopting Microsoft technologies. Let’s face it, there are many reasons for this. Enterprise social is no longer a shiny kid in the industry, and there are still growing concerns sharing information freely in the major monolithic organizations. Besides Microsoft has also thrown lots of hurdles by sending mixed messages and taking forever to realize their vision.

Despite all these, here we are, after Ignite 2016 in Oct 2016. It’s impressive to see Yammer is not only still going strong but becoming a core service of the Office 365 suite, just like Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype. After taking painfully slow time of 3-4 years to move Yammer into Microsoft cloud infrastructure including Office 365 identities, Yammer has positioned itself as core Digital Workspace tool by integrating itself with One Drive for Business, Delve, Office 365 Video and other essential services.

Ever since Microsoft announced Office 365 Groups as future of collaboration platform last year at Ignite 2015, many experts predicted Yammer being going away (including myself) and probably replaced by Office 365 Groups. But, this year at Ignite 2016, Yammer further strengthened its position as workplace collaboration tool with announcements of Yammer’s integration with Office 365 Groups. Many ways this completes Yammer’s journey from standalone service to the core family of Office 365.


Based on the Yammer investments announced at Microsoft Ignite 2016, it is clear that Microsoft doesn’t think Yammer as only Enterprise Social Platform. With its tight integration with other Office 365 services including Office365 Groups, its proper part of core Digital Workspace offering of Microsoft. Documents, conversations, notes, messaging was always part of Yammer offering. Rather than managing and enhancing these features as fractional silos, Office 365 integration will be able to offer stronger offerings like Skype, One Note, and SharePoint for Yammer features. Yammer is indeed becoming a core feature of Digital Workspace vision.


Here is the list of some of the key Ignite 2016 announcements, innovations, and upcoming features planned for Yammer. This indeed makes Yammer as a core service of the Office 365 suite, just like Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype.

Product Innovations

  • Great way to stay up to date – unread conversations counters, a message to show once you caught up with new information, workflow to move to next group.
  • You can edit posts (coming soon, probably by early next year)
  • You can create word, excel, and PowerPoint documents directly from Yammer
  • Mark individual or all messages as read/unread in your inbox, shows activities across all groups.
  • Member and Group onboarding feature, group discovery feature is powered by Office 365 Graph
  • Office 365 Integration with Delve, Skype Meeting Broadcast, and Office 365 Video

Office 365 Groups Integration and Roadmap


  • Creating Yammer group will create AAD object, Office 365 groups including memberships, and trigger requests to create additional Office 365 workloads like SPO, OD4B, EXO, and Planner. It means – every Yammer group will have SharePoint team site, SharePoint document library, OneNote and Planner for Yammer task management.
  • Office 365 groups will have both Outlook and Yammer. You have the option to choose email and shared inbox in Outlook or Yammer messages for your group. Initially, creation location will determine default communication method used in Office 365 groups. e.g. Groups created in Outlook will get an email in the shared inbox, Groups set up in Yammer will get the Yammer group feed, and Groups are created from the Office 365 Admin Portal and other Office 365 workloads will get an Outlook shared inbox. In future, Microsoft will provide flexibility to use either Outlook or Yammer feed regardless of where you creation location.
  • Yammer Group (just like any other Office 365 users or Office 365 Groups) will be available on global address list (Office 365 groups are AAD objects) while sharing files or sending emails. This would allow you to send email from Outlook to Yammer feed as post using Yammer Group global address.
  • OneDrive file picker – You can share files from OneDrive business to Yammer conversations (that includes all your files in Office 365 groups and SharePoint folders) – Yammer files will be moved to OneDrive for Business to in future, start moving your files to SharePoint manually if you want.
  • Yammer notes will be transferred to word documents in SharePoint document libraries. Also – You will have shared team OneNote for Yammer notes.
  • Additional features on the roadmap – Shared Outlook team calendar, Skype directly to user from Yammer feed or conversations, rich preview of SharePoint and OneDrive for Business files in the Yammer feed, Planner tasks or SharePoint document modifications updates in Yammer feed, Support for rich preview of Office 365 video and stream videos in Yammer feed, SharePoint web part, Office 365 profile integration.
  • Office365 Groups connected Yammer Groups – You either get outlook or Yammer feed, not both. You won’t see Outlook in Yammer, and you won’t see Yammer feed in Outlook (as of now, it may change over the time with feedback).
  • If you have Yammer right now and using legacy Yammer credentials, you won’t have Office 365 connected Yammer groups. You can either manually choose to enforce Office 365 identities from Yammer admin center, or Microsoft will roll out a new update as wave 1 (by the end of Q4 2016) to enforce all the network to use Office 365 identities. Once Yammer has Office 365 enforced identities, new Office 365 connected Yammer groups can be provisioned by end users or admins. Microsoft will also backfill all existing public and private groups to become connected Yammer groups in wave 2.
  • It is important to note that as of now, Microsoft’s roadmap includes Yammer groups will be connected to Office 365 groups. You won’t have options to choose classic Yammer group vs. Yammer-Office 365 connected groups. Yammer classic groups are going away once is turned off.

Administration Innovations available as of now



  • On-by-default – Yammers on by default for all new Office 365 tenants. Yammer is completed moved to the Microsoft Azure data centers. It’s in the process of moving entirely to the Office 365 cloud infrastructure. Encryption at rest and encryption in transit are configured for data security.
  • Network/Domain Lifecycle Management – Yammer network domains can be managed from Office 365 administration page. Yammer no longer requires Yammer DSync for on-premises AD sync. It supports AAD Sync. Yammer SSO and Yammer Dsync will stop working on December 1st, 2016.
  • Users, Groups, and Identity Lifecycle Management – Office 365 admin center also includes Yammer Groups (Office 365 Groups) and manageability of group membership. Managing Yammer groups would be same as any other Office 365 groups.
  • License Management – You can also enable/disable Yammer license from Office 365 administration page.
  • Office 365 SSO and Login Support – Connected Tenants and User Profile Sync – Yammer is in App Launcher by default for all new tenants. If you have users on both & Office 365, you can also enforce Office 365 identities in Yammer from Admin settings. You can also enforce all the classic Yammer users to use Office 365 identities from Yammer administration section. Yammer admin console is available from Office 365 administration center.
  • Advanced C-Compliance – Yammer has achieved category C-level compliance in Office 365 suite with ISO 27001, ISO27018, HIPPA, SOX, EUMC and other major compliance categories. It means Yammer is covered by Office 365 Trust (and information protection) center where you can access all third party compliance materials from Office 365 service assurance dashboard. It is important to note that other services like SharePoint Online and Exchange Online are in category D with the highest compliance. It is also important to note that there is no announcements and timeline of Yammer feed availability in an e-discovery center.
  • Mobile App Security – Yammer will be included Intune mobile device management policies. Mobile App Security would work with or without MAM. Supported on both iOS and Android apps. It will support more than 15 policies once it’s applied to your tenant including requiring PIN to access, manage data sharing across apps, restrict copy and paste between apps, encrypt app data, prevent save as, and block running on jailbroken devices, etc.

Administration Innovations Coming Soon and Roadmap

  • Yammer Audit Reports – There are more than 25+ yammer operations are available for audit activities. Also – Yammer will be integrated with Office 365 Management Activity API.
  • Yammer Usage Analytics and Power BI Reports – Yammer activities are included in usage reporting dashboard in admin center – both network & user levels – posts, likes and reads.  Available for global admins only as of now. This can be exported for community managers or champions and visualize using Power BI content pack. There are also plans to deliver usage reports for group level and client access (the web vs. mobile) reports.
  • AAD Conditional Access and Dynamic groups will be supported – You can create Yammer groups with membership based on rules. e.g. create the group for anyone who reports to Kristian. This would work as long as this hierarchy is defined and managed in AAD. Dynamic group membership is based on AAD properties and may require additional licensing or AAD Premium
  • Yammer Connected Groups membership – You can’t assign AAD group, but you can assign group membership based on AAD properties (dynamic membership)
  • Naming collisions – AAD supports the same name but enforces uniqueness in an email. Multiple Outlook groups can be with same named, but Yammer enforces unique name due to discovery. You can end up with 1 Yammer group name but many office 365 groups with the same name.
  • Groups naming conventions, soft delete (life cycle) and customization of all company groups (e.g. change avatar or name, etc.) are on roadmap too. Since both Yammer connected groups and Office 365 groups would be managed as the same entity, all the innovations in Office 365 life cycle and governance would apply to Yammer connected groups as well.
  • Mapping of existing SharePoint sites to either Outlook or Yammer groups not in a roadmap but something can be looked at.
  • Migrating Outlook groups to Yammer groups and vice a verse is not in scope. e.g. if your users start with Outlook group and change mind to have Yammer group, it’s not possible due to various content requires a mapping from message to social.

Here are key Yammer slides from Ignite 2016 to showcase Microsoft’s current philosophy, few investments done last year, and future investments.




Posted in Office 365, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Recapping Microsoft Ignite 2016 Conference, Atlanta, GA

I had the privilege to attend Microsoft Ignite 2016 at Atlanta on Sep 26th-30th this year. This is Microsoft’s signature technology conference which is in the 2nd year after combining all the Office and TechEd conferences last year. If you have read my previous year’s Ignite recap, I wasn’t happy with how it turned out in Chicago especially with logistics issues, and I wasn’t excited this year either being Atlanta as host. As it turned out, I really enjoyed the conference especially technical content and roadmap delivered at the conference, and I must say – Microsoft has earned my faith in Microsoft Ignite event and can’t wait for more for of it next year.



Day 1 of Microsoft Ignite was divided into multiple keynotes – starting with Scott Guthrie lead main conference keynote, followed by sub keynotes from each area (Office, Infrastructure, Security, Communication, etc.), culminating in grand Innovation keynote by Satya Nadella.

I personally didn’t enjoy the main conference keynote. I felt it was Azure heavy with lots of Windows 2016, Visual Studio, and Xamarin updates. My takeaway here was it was mostly boring, nothing new because most of the announcements were already made. There was hardly anything mentioned for Office innovations. My personal favorite from the morning keynote was a huge announcement of Microsoft joining hands with Adobe and Adobe hosting their all clouds including Marketing cloud in Azure. Apart from that, I was disappointed with this keynote.

What morning keynote couldn’t deliver, delivered by Innovation keynote by Satya in the late afternoon. I had an enormous fun listening to Satya and Microsoft’s vision of how Office, Azure, and Windows can deliver innovations in IoT, Analytics, and Cloud computes automation. This is must watch for anyone in technology field despite your interests in Microsoft technologies.

Technology Updates

I was excited with what and how Microsoft delivered Technology updates at Ignite. My interest this year was Office 365, Azure, SharePoint, Power BI, and related technologies. Day 1 and Day 2 was kind of boring with most of the roadmap updates which I had already learned in regular Microsoft Office updates. As I dived into more deep dive sessions on Day 3 and Day 4, I was impressed with all the new technology innovations Microsoft has made in Office 365.

One of the key things stood out for me was Level 100-200 sessions and how Microsoft delivered their roadmaps for 2016-17. They were honest in their delivery. There weren’t afraid of sharing what’s coming and what’s in design. Everyone was graceful in their delivery without any arrogance. It was refreshing to see this new Microsoft which has Satya’s stamp all over it. I personally think Microsoft Ignite still missed out many in-depth Level 300-400 sessions.

As far as technologies update, I loved many announcements including Office 365 Groups, Yammer Integration, OneDrive for Business Sync client, PowerApps, Flow, MyAnalytics, Microsoft Word TAP, SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 1, and SharePoint Hybrid innovations, especially Hybrid Taxonomies. I can’t wait to deep dive into all of these technologies and master them.

If you are Microsoft especially Office 365/SharePoint professional, you would require learning Microsoft Graph, SharePoint Framework, React JS, TypeScript, Office UI Fabric, Windows 2016 Docker containers. Attending deep dive Level 200 sessions on Day 3 and Day 4 for these technologies was conference highlights for me as a technologist.

Conference Logistics

Anytime you need to host 25-30K IT professionals under one roof, it would become logistically tricky. Microsoft Ignite will face common challenges like lodging, transportation, food, session rooms layout regardless of wherever they plan (except Las Vegas) to host this event. Last year at Chicago, one of the biggest challenges they faced off the isolated location of conference center from the world. This year at Atlanta, they faced another challenge and mostly focused on transportation and lodging.

Before we start with what went wrong (we all love negatives), I must say there were lots of positives at this conference. Georgia Conference Center was a great location especially its proximity to Philips Arena and other downtown happening places. The location itself had lots of excellent facilities, and one of them was a patio where you can relax in sunny fall weather with lounge chairs, live music, games, and smoothies center. Ignite Mobile App was another clear winner for me especially scheduling and live streaming of sessions. This is one of the best conference apps at Microsoft events I have seen. I was able to get extra sleep (much needed for conference attendees) because I could live stream first session while commuting to the conference center. Another great idea this year was concurrent 20 minutes, 45 minutes, and 75 minutes’ breakout sessions. This gave attendees ample options of what sessions to attend and what to skip or view the live stream. Also – Microsoft showcase booths at expos were informative. Meeting with product groups was one of my favorite activities in between sessions.

Now, let’s focus on what can be improved. Lots of lines – There were lots of long walk in between buildings (especially if you have sessions in A and C) in addition to a lot of lines everywhere. I am not sure how Microsoft can improve logistically, but I turned away many times from to either attend session or event just because of lines especially it between sessions. After the event, activities was another big issue. If you have been in Atlanta, you know that it isn’t much as far as after event activities except bars, restaurants, and few baseball games in September. Lodging was another big issues. Unlike Chicago, Atlanta doesn’t have a large concentration of hotels in downtown area. Other two major locations were 30 minutes away at Buckhead and Airport. This is where Las Vegas would actually help where lodging, dining, and after event activities are no major concern.

Last but not least, Microsoft needs to stop serving boxed lunch. Even SharePoint Saturdays or conferences don’t have boxed lunch. It was one of the worst (worse than Chicago last year) conference food I ever had. I was done with cold sandwiches after the 2nd day. Luckily there were few other options nearby, but good conference meal should be one of the musts in Microsoft’s checklist. I do understand why Microsoft may have done it due to concurrent sessions but having both boxed and warm buffet meal would cater both audiences.


Parting Notes

Despite all these hate and love for Microsoft Ignite, I enjoyed this conference and can’t wait to attend future events. I personally would like to thank Slalom for letting me attend this conference and learn Microsoft’s direction for 2016-17.

Posted in Conferences | 1 Comment

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.


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.


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:


  • 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


  • 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!!!

Posted in Office 365 | 2 Comments

Modernizing SharePoint? – My thoughts on SharePoint Online Document Library Experience Updates

Update on May 5th – Drawbacks mentioned in this article are no longer drawbacks if you are using new SharePoint Online experiences. New SharePoint Online experiences announced as “Future of SharePoint” event on May 4th spans not only document libraries but throughout SharePoint including new SharePoint Team Site experiences. See Updates herehere, and here. I never had a blog article invalidates itself in few weeks. It’s a power of modern product updates & release cycle. I still think communication and feature rollout could have been better.

Microsoft has pushed out one more “Sneaky” release in Office 365 relating to SharePoint Online document library experiences. If you have “First Release” tenant, you will start noticing the new banner on SharePoint online document library page stating – “Check out new document library look!”.

Doc library UX Banner

I call this “Sneaky” release. Even though this is a huge change in SharePoint (first significant Document Library UI change since SharePoint 2003/2007 days, almost 10-12 years ago), it was never announced on Microsoft Office blogs. I have heard this news on Twitter after seeing few posts from MVPs and other community leaders regarding this release.

Unlike MVPs or other community leaders, my thoughts on this change are bitter-sweet. On the one hand, I love this new modern experience with lots of core features stands out in UI for end-users. On the other hand, I hate the navigation experience from SharePoint Online document library UI to One Drive for Business document library UI. More on navigation concerns later.

If you have never seen new SPO document library experience, here is the preview:

This is a classic SharePoint Online document library experience with the invitation to try out new experience:

SPO OLD Doc Library UX

This is how new SharePoint Online document library experience looks like (with an ability to rollback to classic view for the time being):

SPO New Doc Library List View UX

SPO New Doc Library Grid View UX

Let’s first talk about Pros. I hugely welcome modern UI of new SharePoint Online user experiences. Not only Microsoft had bubbled up many key features like easy actions but modernized the UI along with it.

Here are some of the highlights of new features and I must say – I love them all.

  • Library Level Features
    1. Ability to Pin documents as Highlights above the library view
    2. Ability to “Alert Me” from quick action bar
    3. Ability to have Grid view with previews, rather than traditional list view
  • Document Level Actions
    1. Ability to see “History” on the right bar
    2. Document Action Bar – Ability to get a link, ability to Move to another location (one of the long standing issues with traditional UI)

Now, let’s talk about major drawback. With all the love for new UI, one of the major downside of this new update is what happens to the existing collaboration sites. Even though Office 365 have new workloads rolling out every few months to tackle modern collaboration like Yammer Groups, Office 365 Groups, Planner, Delve, many of our customers are still using SharePoint team sites for document collaboration.

Along with SharePoint team sites, they are accustomed to using “Blue” SharePoint/Office 365 global OOB UI and SharePoint Online ribbon bar. One of the major issues with new UI is end-users will require traversing back and forth between SharePoint Online UI (Blue Globar bar with Ribbon) and OneDrive for Business UI (Black Global bar without Ribbon) while using document libraries and that’s where the challenge is.

Many of us additionally apply SharePoint online themes (recommended by Office 365 PnP as supported version of branding), which would affect seamless UI experience and navigation as users are accessing team sites, document libraries, and documents. My only hope here is Microsoft have further plans to roll out SPO changes to reflect this new UI in SPO to match overall Office 365 experience.

But, Wait – There is a solution to all these – Having all said that, Microsoft didn’t leave us with this as forced update. You have the option to use old or new experience depending on your organization’s appetite for change. Each document library has the option to use new or old experience. This would allow document library owners to use whatever experience they like. Additionally, there is a global SharePoint Online administrative setting to apply this change to all document libraries in SharePoint online team sites. Few tips here – library-level settings will definitely affect the governance policies and how organizations want to standardize the document library experiences. Few more things to worry about as you trying to govern your environment. 🙂

You can manage list document library experiences settings from library’s advanced settings page. There are three options here:

SPO Library Admin Settings

  • Default experience set by my administrator – Configured at the SharePoint Online Administrative page.
  • New experience – New experience with OD4B UI
  • Classic experience – Classic Old and Gold SharePoint document library view

Here is the screenshot of SharePoint Online Admin Setting.

SPO Admin Settings

Here are my initial reactions on Twitter. I am hoping to have more positive reactions and better document library experience stories as we go through initial period.

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SharePoint Online is changing!!! Good luck SPO!!!

Additional Resources and Community Reactions

Posted in Office 365, SP2013 Online | Leave a comment