Latest SharePoint release inspired by cloud infrastructure, Office 365 experience

SharePoint 2016 is not your dad’s SharePoint, according to Microsoft Corp., which wants to provide more flexible deployment operations for its stalwart collaboration tool and acknowledges industry trends regarding how organizations distribute corporate information and collaborate.

Bill Baer, senior product marketing manager in the software giant’s SharePoint product group, described SharePoint Server 2016 as an important release for the company in a recent webinar.

Released to manufacturing in mid-March, SharePoint 2016 bears in mind three core pillars, he said – infrastructure, compliance and experiences.

“SharePoint 2016 is not only our on-premises server release, it’s an on-premises server release that’s derived from our Office 365 innovations and SharePoint Online,” said Baer.

It’s the most comprehensively tested version of SharePoint, he added, because it was drawn from Microsoft’s cloud offering.

“We also gain all of the experience we have running SharePoint at scale and Office 365 through SharePoint Server,” said Baer, and many of those investments enable customers to handle more data more efficiently at a lower cost. More flexible deployment is possible as well, either in the cloud, on-premise or in between. “It also allows you to maximize your existing infrastructure.”

SharePoint 2016 is also influenced by how Microsoft was seeing how customers were using Office 365 and SharePoint Online, said Baer, and bringing those investments over to the server version. This includes improving mobile access to content and more people-centric document storage and collaboration features. “A great example is a new simple control command menu that sits just above document libraries that provides quick access to the most commonly used tasks, such as sharing documents, uploading documents, and moving documents throughout your SharePoint infrastructure.”

From compliance perspective, Microsoft has added a lot of new capabilities to help drive data loss prevention including e-discovery and policy management. Compliance has become part of the user experience as they create content, he said, while pages of content from Technet describing best practices for SharePoint have been baked into the code instead.

Because the latest SharePoint has been running in the cloud, it has been tested to be even more reliable, said Baer, but it’s also “cloud accelerated to take advantage of features first developed in Office 365. “It’s more intuitive to the extent that throughout Office 365, we can better understand how users use features. We’ve been able to take that experience and bring it back to the server product.”

Compared with its predecessor, SharePoint Server 2016 has been able to increased its search capabilities twofold, Baer noted, supporting 500 million items per Search Server Application, which provides greater horizontal scale. Boundaries and limits for sites have been increased fivefold, he said, and content databases can now be measured in terabytes, rather than gigabytes. “That reduces the sprawl.”

While Microsoft is pushing how different its latest SharePoint is, many things are the same, according to a recent webinar presented by MetaLogix, including preparation for migration and much of the back-end administration.
Despite the growth of cloud computing and the availability of online collaboration tools, SharePoint continues to be a widely-used information tool thanks its existing large footprint, as organizations tend to leave it in place unless they encounter any major challenges.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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