What’s new in SharePoint 2016? How will it affect those in older versions of SharePoint? Is now really the best time to switch over from your legacy system? What can you do now to prepare your deployment? Since the “Evolution of SharePoint” was announced prior to Microsoft Ignite last year, we’ve been working closely with Microsoft and our clients to answer these questions as well as understand the ins and outs of SharePoint 2016.
Find out what we’ve learned by watching our round table discussion, featuring a live Q&A between IT admins and our SharePoint experts, and discover what’s new in SharePoint 2016.
Dux: Good morning, everybody. Welcome and thank you for joining us this morning to talk about what’s new in SharePoint 2016. My name is Dux Raymond Sy, and I serve as the CTO of AvePoint Public Sector. In the next hour, we put together a great lineup of resources that will talk to you what’s coming with 2016, and also more importantly, looking at what works, what doesn’t work, things around compliance. We’re also going to look at and discuss hybrid scenarios. But more importantly also take all your questions that’s brewing. I’m sure a lot of you have been thinking a lot about 2016, how would migration look like. So we’ll definitely cover all that.
So just to get things started here, I want to share a quick agenda on what we’re going to look at. I’ll introduce everybody in this panel. We’ll talk about what SharePoint 2016, what’s new? How will the different changes affect us? We’ll also think about compliance, security, hybrid support, what things should I keep on-premises, what should go on the Cloud? We’ll talk about our experiences. The exciting part about working with a great team of subject matter experts, MVPs. We work closely with Microsoft, and we work with this technology, and we can share what we found and share some tips and tricks and guidance for you as well.
And then lastly, we’re going to provide some guidance on what you should consider in starting to think about migration, what you should look forward to, and please, this is a very interactive, informal conversation, so if you have any questions at all, make sure you pop in your questions into the chat room. So just to introduce everybody, again, my name is Dux Raymond Sy. I serve as the CTO of AvePoint Public Sector. I’ve been working with SharePoint for a long time. I had a great opportunity to write the book “SharePoint for Project Management” awhile back, and very honored to be a six-time Microsoft SharePoint MVP. And I’ll just go around this virtual room and have my colleagues introduce themselves. So Paul?
Paul: Good morning, everyone. Paul Olenick here, and I’m one of our Directors of Product Strategy at AvePoint. Like Dux, I’m a SharePoint MVP, which I’ve been for maybe four or five years now, and I’ve been working with SharePoint about 10 years. My biggest interest in SharePoint has been in search and discovery, so in the past enterprise search and now more recently Delve and the Office Graph.
Dux: Awesome. Thank you, Paul. Becky?
Becky: Hi, my name is Becky Isserman. I’m a SharePoint Technical Lead for AvePoint Client Services. I’ve worked with services over the past 10 or 11 years, and you guys have seen me probably at SharePoint Saturday in New York City and at a bunch of different events in the community.
Dux: Awesome. Thank you, Becky. And, John. John’s with me here today.
John: Yes. Hi. John Peluso. I’m Senior Vice President of Product Strategy with AvePoint, so heavily involved in looking at our product portfolio, planning, new features, new support, and have been looking quite a bit at SharePoint 2016 lately.
Dux: Awesome, awesome. So why don’t we roll up our sleeves and get the conversation started. I know everybody here is excited and wanting to learn about SharePoint 2016. So just to make sure we’re all on the same page, and since Paul, you pushed out a great blog post this morning, why don’t you give everybody a good preview and background and 101 on what SharePoint 2016 is, and what are some of the key highlights of what’s changed?
Paul: Sure. So I think of SharePoint 2016 in a few ways. So one is in a way it’s, and this is sort of in Microsoft speak, it’s an accrual of the lessons that Microsoft learned by running enormous deployments of SharePoint themselves, like mainly in Office 365. So they’ve made a number of architectural changes that we’ll talk about in a little bit more detail as we go through, that were based on lessons learned from running Office 365. They’ve included a lot of great improvements in hybrid, which we actually get also in SharePoint 2013, but we get that as we’ve been making in investments in 2016. So we’ve got a number of new features, a number of architectural enhancements, and then I also consider it in a way an indication and a delivery on the promise that Microsoft has made that SharePoint on-prem isn’t going anywhere. They’re still going to support and invest in the customers that are going to remain on-prem.
Dux: Awesome. And really from a, when you talk about Office 365, there’s conversations and talks about, well, essentially they took Office 365 and brought it down on-prem. John, what do you think about that comment?
John: I think you see it, and that’s what Microsoft is stating is the reason why they’re accruing down some of the investments they made in SharePoint Online. One of the interesting comments that I heard from the Microsoft team was that they learned a lot from running SharePoint Online at scale that they hadn’t experienced before, and surprise, surprise, SharePoint is difficult to run and keep resilient and performing when you have a lot of users. So one example of that would be the patching that we’ll talk about later, but the ability to keep your farm online so you can keep users on the platform while you’re doing updates and patches. That was something that they had to do in SharePoint Online to meet their SLA, and now we get the benefit of that on-prem. So I think that’s an example of something we win with the bring down to on-prem.
Dux: Well, speaking about that, John. So I know Office 365 online has always been the big buzz, and I would say in the last two, three years, and with that, obviously compliance, security, those are top of mind of a lot of organizations. And what are your thoughts and what have you seen about compliance, and security, and even hybrid support in 2016?
John: So maybe what I can do is I’ll talk to the compliance and some of the DLP stuff, and then maybe I’ll bring Paul in to talk to some of the hybrid stuff. So when we look at the investments that Microsoft has been making in Office 365 around compliance, information security, privacy, those kinds of things, it’s pretty clear that the reason that they’re making investments in this space is because the thought of bringing content to the Cloud is one that automatically is going to generate scrutiny by teams that are concerned about privacy information, security, and so forth. So they’ve been investing in DLP, in information security type functionality online.
We do get some of that now brought down to SharePoint on-prem. The two main things that I think that we see that we didn’t see before, the first is around document retention policies. Previously we had site retention policies that were introduced in SharePoint 2013, which affected the site as a whole and could potentially decommission sites after a period of time. What’s New in SharePoint 2016 are document retention policies. The idea is a very good one. The idea is that we can plan for when content will get pruned out of SharePoint. The problem is that what we’re seeing is that the criteria is pretty exclusively based on created or modified date. So, for example, I could say across an entire site collection, documents will be pruned out. Meaning, they will go either to recycle bin or permanent delete two years after the last modified date.
And while that’s useful, it’s probably a little too broad based for a lot of organizations. There’s no review process. There’s no ability to say, “Here’s the general rule, but if the documents meet these other conditions.” So you’d have to combine that functionality with information management policies, and so it gets a little bit more complex.
The other area is obviously the DLP policies. So this is exciting because it’s an opportunity to, for example, say that certain types of restricted content will be treated differently. Potentially we can block access to it. They have done a really good job of bringing down, I would say, some of the mechanisms. They call them policy templates. So some built-in abilities to classify documents based on conditions that financial services would care about. So financial data, PII or personal data. The problem is that their effectiveness isn’t quite as useful as it is, for example, in Exchange. Exchange is a built-in pipeline, the transport pipeline of Exchange that messages flow through. That’s a natural place to a DLP check.
They don’t really have that in SharePoint, so the way that they’re doing an assessment about whether a document is sensitive or not or violates one of these policies, is when it gets indexed. So when it gets caught in the search index. That’s when the assessment is made about sensitivity. That’s good because there’s no additional crawl impact on SharePoint. The downside is obviously my assessment of sensitive content may not be immediate. I might need to wait for the next crawl.
And the other thing is a strategy we’ve seen some organizations where they specifically, on certain sites, or certain libraries restrict the crawler from crawling that content so that it doesn’t get surfaced in a search result, for example, if permission is still funky on it. If you accept a site or a library from search indexing, it will never get scanned by this DLP mechanism. So just a couple of things to be wary of with that.
Dux: Well, speaking of search, you hit on a key point here, and this is a nice segue to hybrid. I know, Becky, you were working on a project where a customer wanted to go to 2016, so you worked a lot with hybrid scenario on Search, and you even posted a blog post on it. So can you tell everybody more about what you’ve seen with Search 2016 and I’m sure Paul can jump into it, too, and then the hybrid scenario as well?
Becky: Yeah, absolutely. So what really confuses people, I feel, is that they think that everything is sitting in two indexers. One thing I will note is that it’s actually going to Office 365 Cloud Indexer, so when you actually create a Cloud search service application when you go into 2016, you’re actually tying all your data into the Cloud aside from the result sources and a couple other pieces, like query rules. Even your managed properties are actually sitting in the Cloud. So what’s really interesting is if you created something like a content type and it was sitting in 2016, and then you created the same content type in Office 365, you could actually have managed properties sitting in Office 365, and you could use them together in the search scenario.
The only downside is, what I have noticed is that you could hit the index there and crawl the data in 2016, and it actually shows up quicker than the Office 365 data because there’s no mechanism to actually aggregate all the data. And we did a ton of different tests just for this client. It was really interesting. And I could see the data in 2016, just for the managed properties maybe within the hour, but it took maybe 24 hours to get the data into Office 365 because you had to actually wait for Office 365 to aggregate everything. And I threw in a bunch of different documents that were similar and just did some tests for fun just to see what was going on because we had to write this up for our client just to see how search would work.
And so that part was really, really cool just to see it. And the setup was pretty nice and neat. If you guys go into the blog post, it actually talks about the set up, and from what I understand they fixed all the bugs that I listed, and the release candidate, they fixed over 200 bugs. So if you’ve installed the release candidate on top of beta 2, you actually will have a more seamless experience with hybrid and search because I believe outbound was having some trouble, the SharePoint 2016 side was having trouble with result sources and it wasn’t showing the data properly.
The other thing to note, too, is that if you’re grabbing content types, you don’t get aggregated content types, too. That was one thing that we had a problem with. There’s no hybrid content type hub. So you have to actually create your managed metadata and content types into two different mechanisms and wait for it to get aggregated. I’m hoping that in the future they’re going to have something to fix that experience. Paul, do you have anything to add?
Dux: Let me quickly interrupt there. So we’ve got a lot of great questions coming in. So I want to make sure we jump into it first. So a couple questions we have here. So I think this one is addressed to you, John. So what does DLP mean? What’s the value of DLP?
John: A great question and thank you for keeping us honest with our terminology here. So DLP is “data loss prevention.” It’s the way Microsoft is describing a lot of the information security functionality that they’re adding in SharePoint and in Exchange. So DLP stands for “data loss prevention,” and it has to do with being able to identify sensitive content and then potentially perform some type of restriction on that content that’s appropriate given the nature of the content.
Dux: And here’s another question. I think there’s couple other questions we’re going to touch on in a second, but this one question I think is quite important. When’s the latest RTM dates? Do you have the insider secret to that? Anybody?
John: Well, I heard a really interesting thing on someone’s podcast the other day. They said that Microsoft has given us a Q2 date. It could be anywhere from April 1 to midnight on June 30.
Dux: There you go.
John: I’ve heard nothing else publicly. I’m not sure if the rest of the team has.
Dux: Paul, have you heard anything else?
Paul: Nope. I’ve heard the same thing, and I guess the second part of the question is when do we expect that it would be stable? I guess if we think about, historically, I tend to think that 2013 is certainly going to be more battle-tested and obviously 2010 even more than that. But I measure the stability in months versus years, if that makes any sense. So if you’re thinking about, “Hey, this thing’s just about to be released, when do I think it’ll be stable?” If you think you want to sit and wait…and you, guys, definitely share your opinion as well, but I think about maybe I’ll wait a couple of months rather than wait an entire year or something like that.
Dux: Boy, there’s a lot of fantastic questions coming in. So this one from Aniel. Becky, when you’re talking about duplicating content type, did you mean that it’s duplicating in the Cloud, or on-prem, or both?
Becky: So you have to duplicate it in the Cloud and on-prem. There is no place that’s central for both Office 365 and SharePoint 2016. It’s not a hybrid feature, unfortunately. It’s the same with managed metadata, like I was saying. You only get it in your managed properties and crawled properties and your search indexer. Once you have the data attached to the content type in Office 365 and SharePoint 2016, that’s the only way that you can actually create hybrid data just in search really.
Dux: Got it. Now, there’s a bunch of other questions here that we’re going to cover, so hang on couple folks who asked a question because we’re going to definitely cover these. So I want to go back to this conversation around hybrid. So, Paul, what are your thoughts around hybrid? And then we can maybe dive deeper into the architectural layout of 2016.
Paul: Yeah, of course. So it’s a kind of a funny topic when I think about it because when I think about 2016 in a way, I think about hybrid and in particular hybrid search as being the killer app, the killer feature. What’s funny about that to me is that you pretty much get the same experience in 2013 as you do in 2016, but what we really talk about when we’re talking about hybrid is a handful of things. One of them is this notion of hybrid search, which Becky described, is Microsoft released a new service application that allows you to crawl your on-prem content.
So your 2007 farms, your 2010 farms, files share content and so forth. And the service application is essentially the crawler part of the search engine, and it does some crawling, and then it pipes that information up into your index into SharePoint online. Then you have this unified search results that you can…they recommend that you view in Office 365, but you can also view that integrated set of search results on-prem.
One of the cool things about this is that it provides a mechanism for us to get on-prem content inside of Delve, so we can see our on-prem documents or even our file share documents on Delve boards. Something important to note around that is that you won’t see your on-prem content automagically surface the way you do your Office 365 content on your Delve homepage, but if you do a search within Delve, you can find your on-prem content, see it in cards, and then and pin it to boards. So that’s just a little bit of a detail.
So that’s search. The other thing that we get is hybrid OneDrive for business, which is really just a way for organizations to perhaps host their OneDrive for Business workload in the Cloud, and so when an on-prem user clicks on OneDrive in the waffle or in the app launcher, it will redirect them up to OneDrive. We get the hybrid app launcher, which touches on what I was just talking about. Depending on which tile you click inside of the app launcher, it will redirect you to the appropriate place whether that be on-prem or online.
And then we get some new features in terms of hybrid team sites, and essentially what that means is if you have sites that are distributed both on-prem and in the Cloud as you follow sites, if you follow, say, one site on-prem and one site in Office 365, those will all be aggregated inside of your followed sites in your sites tab. And then, I don’t know if you would call it a feature but another big improvement is really around the setup, and Becky, I don’t know if you want to touch on that at all, but really they just made big improvements on the ease in which you can set up a hybrid environment. In prior versions it really required some pretty serious expertise and additional hardware and things like that.
Becky: Yeah, actually, even just the, I think it was their sync, that was the baseline piece for Azure active directory. That’s a lot easier than it used to be. There used to be, I think, like 30 steps, and you had to hit a rock and sacrifice 20 goats and hope it worked basically just for that piece. And the hybrid stuff is so easy. It’s one of the easiest things I’ve ever tried to set up. It’s easier than Kerberos. It’s easier than old user profiles with FEM essentially.
It was the most amazing piece I’ve easier seen in a while, and one of the things that I would actually say to you is that you don’t get the app launcher. It doesn’t appear in 2016 with actual links until you actually turn on the hybrid features, and the only way you can actually add anything custom is to create a custom tile in Office 365. So if you’re freaking out just because there’s no app launcher, it means you haven’t turned on anything hybrid, and so you don’t get any of those things.
Dux: Now, that’s a good point, Becky, and for those not quite sure it’s the waffle on the upper left section that some of you may have seen Office 365. Now we got couple great questions that are coming in. Before we jump into architectural changes because there’s a lot of architectural questions here, there was a question that came in for you, Paul, from Steve. He says, “Do I need 2016 on-premise in order to properly use OneDrive in hybrid scenario? Or can I use 2013 on-premise as long as I have SP1, and so keep OneDrive for Business up in Office 365?”
Paul: Yeah, that’s right. You can use SharePoint 2013 in the same way, and to answer another similar question that I see in here, “What is the main advantage to 2016 from a hybrid scenario?” There’s really not a big advantage. They’ve made most if not all of the hybrid capabilities available in SharePoint 2013 through cumulative updates. So you get pretty much the same experience.
Dux: Awesome. So we got a couple great questions. Now just to clarify, 2016 is designed in a way that it supports hybrid, and like John, Becky, and Paul’s saying, it makes it easier to go hybrid, but it doesn’t mean you have to go hybrid. So we have another question from Ben here, and I’ll throw it over to John. You all talk about a hybrid environment. Does that mean that a site is duplicated and synced between on-prem Office 365, or does it mean that a certain percent of your contents on-prem while the remaining is in Office 365?
John: Yeah. I think, again, these are great questions. I think you guys are doing a good job at keeping us honest and making sure that we’re not jumping too far down the rabbit hole. Let’s back up a half a second and make sure that we all understand what we mean by a hybrid environment. So by a Hybrid environment, what we mean is that, and it really reflects some of the architecture of the new SharePoint as well. Microsoft, ideally, wants to bring down as much of the new features. The Office 365 and SharePoint Online is where all of the innovation has been over the last three years. And so they brought down as much as they could of that functionality, and the reason they couldn’t bring down some functionality was because of the simple nature of things like the dependencies on other Cloud services, which you cannot replicate on-prem.
So the bottom line is we have a subset of features that are in SharePoint on-prem, and then if you want the full run of what Office 365 and SharePoint on-prem together can bring, you can essentially run both. Run some of your sites, some of your OneDrives online and run some of your sites on-prem. So the typical use case we see here is companies say, “I have sensitive data. It can’t be stored in the Cloud, but I do want to take advantage of some of the new features like the video portal or the new profile experience which are only available online.” So it’s not that we’re duplicating the content between on-prem and online, it’s that we exist in a world where our content lives in some cases online, in some cases on-prem, and we need to make that experience easy for the user.
Dux: And one way to look at it, I was working with a large government customer recently, and one way to look at it is there are advanced capabilities and workloads. Like you said, we can’t bring down. So it’s really beyond content. So just to put it in a simple fashion. For example, if you have SharePoint 2016 on-premises, keep your content there. Keep your sites there, but you want to take advantage of the powerful Delve or search capability, then you can leverage Office 365 for that. Now from a user experience standpoint, it’s transparent. The user won’t even know that certain part of the functionality is being served up by Office 365.
John: It’s more transparent than it’s been, right?
Dux: Exactly. And that’s the power of it. So now instead of investing a lot of infrastructure, hardware, even technical expertise, and how to set certain workloads up, you don’t have to. So that’s the big value proposition of hybrid. It’s beyond content now. Speaking of content, a typical use case I find is what if you have like an external sharing scenario where you might be working on a project but some of the people aren’t part of your company? They’re vendors. You just want to collaborate on a couple of documents or sites. In that scenario, well, that project site in Office 365, and so you can enable external sharing, but like John said, anything that’s sensitive or confidential you don’t want to share with anybody else outside of your organization, you can keep that on-premises.
So think of hybrid more than just where you store your content. Think of hybrid as to specific capabilities that’s available in Office 365 that you just cannot have on-premises, that you can take advantage of as if it was on-premises.
John: Just to maybe transition over to architecture real quick. So there’s a couple of really interesting questions that I think get to the heart of how we will think of SharePoint on-premises go forward, and it’s a bit of a paradigm shift. Again, normally what Microsoft would do is they would do a two to three year development cycle and then release of an on-prem version. That on-prem version would then get pushed up to the Cloud and become the new Cloud hosted version. Microsoft would continue to iterate in the on-prem branch and then continue to push those up. We saw that in 2007, and 2010, and in 2013.
There was a question about when SharePoint 2016 goes RTM, will that mean that Office 365 will get that SharePoint 2016 version the same day? I think this is a key question because it is the paradigm shift. SharePoint Online is already more advanced than SharePoint on-premise, and when 2016 comes out, 2016 RTM plus one day, it will already be behind SharePoint Online because Microsoft will continue to innovate in the online branch, and then they will periodically bring down whatever those improvements and enhancements they can to the on-prem version. Now they’ve spoken about ideas about how they want to do this. I’ve heard things as aggressively as monthly, to have fixes and enhancements monthly and maybe new features quarterly or yearly.
Dux: So it’s like monthly patch Tuesday?
John: Something like that. What they’ve done with this release in on-prem is now bring the architecture close enough to SharePoint online that they can more rapidly bring those enhancements down. So there was another question about is there a roadmap for 2016 for on-prem beyond 2016? Absolutely. Microsoft is committing to not just release 2016, but also release feature packs on top of it and new versions, and the commitment from Microsoft is that they’ll continue to do so as long as they have customers that want or need to remain on-prem.
Dux: We got one question here. Terry is asking, I think it ties to architecture and infrastructure, “What would be required to totally stay on-prem?” If an organization decides, “You know what? This is great. Bless your heart, guys. You’re trying hard with hybrid, but no go for us.”
John: That’s easy enough. Same as it always was. There’s no required connection. The idea is that you can enhance your experience by connecting to online services.
Dux: So the fundamental collaboration capabilities, document enhancement capabilities, even search are definitely still available and they can leverage it on-premises. You don’t connect it to the Internet and you’re still good to go.
John: Yeah. And back to a question that was earlier on the list here, what does the new…is there any change to the enterprise wiki portal? I think as a rule of thumb, if you want to know what SharePoint 2016 is going to look like, a real good indicator would be look at what SharePoint Online is today for things like the site templates. Now the video portal, the new profile experience, those are exceptions because those are built off of Delve as a dependency. But the standard site templates that you’ll see, expect that they’ll look very similar to what you have in SharePoint 2016.
Dux: A couple of things. I think these are awesome, awesome questions. So there’s couple questions on SharePoint Designer, Infopath. I think we can answer all of these at the same time. So SharePoint Designer, Infopath, branding. Take it away.
John: So one thing I’ll answer really quickly is a question about…I had mentioned Microsoft committing to release additional feature packs. I think that they have intentions. I don’t think that they have firm plans or understanding yet of what that frequency will be, and I think that we can expect to hear that firm up a little bit as we get closer to the RTM. I’m going to actually throw it to some of my colleagues here on the SharePoint Designer story. Paul or Becky, have you guys heard anything on their recommendation as far as SharePoint Designer? We know that Infopath, there’s no new version coming, but form support still exists in 2016, but have you heard anything about SharePoint Designer?
Becky: Yeah. So they’re not changing Designer actually. They’re not updating it. 2013’s it, they’re done. It’s like Infopath.
Paul: And it provides support for 2016, so you can continue using SharePoint Designer 2013 the same way you did with…yes, SharePoint Designer 2013 the same way you did with SharePoint 2013 as you will with 2016. So it’ll support the work flows, and you can still connect to your sites and do the same types of configurations.
Dux: All right, so that’s great. So, again, there’s a lot of great questions, and I want to go through some of these. A lot of these have been answered already. And SharePoint, there’s a comment here saying, “Hey, look, we get it. Cloud is important, but there’s certain industries, healthcare, government, defense. We just cannot use the Cloud. End of story.” And that’s 100% perfectly fine. All the features and capabilities that you had in 2013 is still there even if you do it on-premises. Now, what we’re saying is all the advanced workloads, Bing site, video portals, Delve, there’s just no technical way unless you set up your own Cloud environment internally to be able to mimic that on-premises. And I would even be bold enough to say other technology platforms out there that provide similar capabilities, such things like Delve and video portals and all that, almost most likely, unless you can invest in heavy, heavy infrastructure, it’s all going to be Cloud-base as well. The good news is, if you want to keep going on-premises, no to cloud, nothing to do with cloud, you can keep on taking advantage of that.
There’s a couple other questions. Let’s see. So, Paul, I want to go back to that OneDrive question. So is the answer, yes, from a 2013 perspective use OneDrive for Business?
Paul: Yes. The hybrid story for SharePoint 2016 is the same in terms of OneDrive for Business as long as you have the appropriate patch level. It might be something beyond SP1, the accumulative update. March jumps out in my mind, but I don’t recall.
Dux: Awesome. Here’s a good question, and then I’ll jump to the next slide here. Term store synchronization is a huge hole in the hybrid story. For that, it’s a big headache. Any thoughts, comments on that, Becky, Paul?
Becky: Yeah, we actually thought about this for my client. The only thing we can really do is you can write some type of coded solution right now or hope that someone, some third party vendor actually creates something to sync the term store together. There really isn’t much else you can do out of the box quite honestly. You could actually write a PowerShell script if you have the know-how or get someone to write a PowerShell script and synchronize the two, and just delete and add based on the PowerShell script. It wouldn’t be that hard or that complicated unless you have a really, really, really large term store. That’s when it might get a little bit painful synchronizing the two, but other than that, right now, there’s not much we can do.
For all I know though, in two months, Bil Baer might come out say, “Hey, we’re going to create this hybrid synchronized term store.” The only thing I can tell people right now is if you really want that, go onto User Voice and promote it, and just keep voting it up and keep voting it up, and hopefully they’ll put it in a patch in the next six months.
Dux: Becky, that sounds like a good blog post. Right?
Dux: Hey, Paul, I got a couple of Delve questions. This is really good. So somebody is asking for the purposes of those that are not familiar with Delve, can you describe and define what Delve is? So that’s the first question, and related to that, is Delve meant to replace Content Types? And so I’ll have you dissect that further and unpack that for everybody.
Paul: Sure. So I’ll answer the second part first, which is, no, Delve is not meant to replace Content Types. I think of Content Types as a way to uniformly apply metadata across different areas of your site and site collections by standardizing that through Content Types as well as using Content Types as a way to aggregate data. So I want to roll up all of my F points, SOW Content Types. I can do that very easily by querying against a content type.
Delve is something different. What Delve is it’s built on top of this Office Graph technology, which is an underlying service to Office 365, which is capturing your interactions both with documents and other users, and it uses that and some machine learning to then surface the content that is most relevant to you. So as a simple example, if I log in to Delve, I might see content that my manager has been working on very recently. So that’s somebody that I’m very close to in the organizational chart and it’s a recent document. So Delve and the Office Graph can guess that that’s very important to me. So that’s what Delve is.
Dux: And one way I describe this, so I’ve been talking a lot to customers about Delve as well. So think of Delve beyond just from a SharePoint perspective. The idea with Delve is to look at the content, communication, interactions, relationships you have within the organization. So a good example of…the example I use all the time is like Amazon or even LinkedIn. So you go to Amazon, you buy stuff, and then it’ll say, “Hey, you bought this. You may like that.” Or, “Since you read this book, you may want to read that book.” Or “Since you,” from a LinkedIn perspective, “Hey, your friend Paul just liked this post. Since you’re related to Paul, you might like that post as well.”
So it looks that your sphere within your organization, from an information perspective, from a relationship perspective, and through time you will learn better than…and what Paul described the machine learning technology. It’s part of Azure machine learning on the Microsoft backend, and so think of it as more of a push than you going out trying to look for something across content, across people especially in larger organization, if leveraged well, this could save a lot of effort and time, and really exposing information that’s relevant to you. Did I do justice on that, Paul?
Paul: I think so, and I guess just to kind of add on, the reason that I think it’s a really important exciting technology is like I’m sure all of you, I have absolute total content overload. There’s just so much content that is available to me that I’m trying to get over, that this is a way…anything that will help me prioritize that content and surface it to me is all the better. The other part is that I’m actually somewhat of a remote resource to AvePoint. So our main headquarter is in Jersey City, and we have offices all over the world. I’m out here in Silicon Valley on an island, and one of the things it does is actually surfaces content that I might not see otherwise, so I can get a sense of what’s happening in the company. What did I miss? What are people working on?
Dux: We’ve got a couple of related questions. I think this moves on to the next piece where should I move, should I not move? So first question here from Steve. I think Steve has been keeping up with all the posts and blogs out there. He asks, “Do we really need to not wait for an SP1 because MVPs and bloggers out there or Microsoft is saying, just do it. But historically we wait for the service pack 1 to make it more stable. Is it really a good idea just to roll it out?” Becky, Paul, thoughts?
Paul: I guess it depends on your tolerance for risk and what types of workloads, whether they’re completely mission critical, and what kind of failover mechanisms you have in place and sort of. So I would say in my mind, it’s based on my experience in seeing cumulative updates and service packs roll out, and then be redacted, and changed, and updated. I think it’s a good idea to at least wait a couple of weeks. That’s my personal opinion and the recommendations that I give to customers.
Becky: I would say…
Dux: Couple other questions…
Becky: Oh sorry. I would just like to say…
Dux: Go ahead, Becky.
Becky: …there’s no development story out there yet. There’s not a really great one, and if you have a lot of customizations, that could pose a problem actually.
Dux: Couple other questions before we start talking about should I go, should I not go, or even thinking about migration. So what’s the frequency Microsoft has agreed to release the service packs? Again, as John mentioned, JP mentioned earlier is from what we’ve seen, what we’ve heard is the commitment is more frequent, but there’s not a definitive cadence or schedule as far as we’ve seen. Staying on-prem, you would lose all the enhanced capabilities, things like BI, Delve, and all that, and going to hybrid means more money for Microsoft. Obviously, with Office 365, you got to pay per user.
Now, if you’re working in organizations where you have enterprise agreements with Microsoft, and again, I’m no licensing expert, but what Microsoft has done, I have seen this with large organizations, their licensing is really pretty much bundled already, where from an enterprise licensing enterprise agreement is you do get on-prem, you do get Office 365 and Azure as well. So regardless, especially if you’re a large organization, even if you don’t do Office 365, just went straight to SharePoint 2016 on-premises, I would suspect you still have subscription to Office 365 anyway. Now that may be different if you’re a small organization where you’re essentially procuring it from a retail perspective. Any thoughts on that, Paul, from more of a licensing and costing perspective?
Paul: No. Like you, I try not get too in the weeds of licensing just in terms of my responsibilities, but my understanding is the same, that for most of the customers I’ve worked with, their licenses will apply both to on-prem and Office 365.
Dux: Sure. So here’s another question here. What’s up with the memory databases? I heard that part of the difficulty with getting this release done is the hard dependency on SQL server 2016. This is a good question. Becky, do you want to take that?
Becky: I actually do not know much about 2016. I haven’t actually installed it just because it’s still, I believe in beta. Right, Paul? I’m not 100% sure, and…
Dux: Talking about SQL server, right?
Becky: Yeah, for SQL server. I believe it’s still in beta, and from all the documentation, I didn’t really want to touch it just because I was a little worried about it would cause some issue with my environment. So I’ve only tested really on 2014.
Dux: Paul, anything you want to add?
Paul: Yeah. No, I don’t know the details in terms of trouble with the platform just that for SQL server, our new minimum requirement is 2014 SP1.
Dux: Got it. All right, so these are great questions. So in the interest time, just to make sure we cover what we committed to cover, let’s talk about migration. So there’s a couple questions here. We’ve got 2010. Can we just jump directly 2016 or do we have to go through 2013 before we go to 2016? In general, and I’ll give both of you an opportunity to share your thoughts on migration, what challenges and considerations do organizations have to think about as they plan for 2016 migration? And then what are the options? Are there any new options out there? So I’ll have you share your thoughts first, Becky.
Becky: It’s pretty much the same as what we’ve seen with the development story. If you’re going from 2007 to 2013, you have to basically go from 2010 to 2013 to 2016 if you’re not using a tool. The thing that I will say is I’ve done this before and it’s very risky with the UI changes that have happened between 2010 and 2013. Also, if your database is not in claims 2010, you’re going to have to upgrade it from classic to claims the same using…there’s a PowerShell command. It’s very unpredictable, and sometimes it fails to just as much as the actual upgrade fails when you’re doing a database attached. In my opinion, I’ve seen a lot of migration tools out there. I would use a migration tool over actual database upgrade. It’s not because I work for AvePoint that I’m saying that. It’s more just the UI failures that I’ve seen so many times.
I would just go to that route just because it’s the same, especially if you’re going from 2010. I did a 2007 upgrade last year without a tool, and it sometimes works when you’re going from 2007 to 2010 for the UI changes, than when you go to 2010 to 2013, it would occasionally work, too. You might get a failure every so often. It was incredibly unpredictable in my opinion. I wouldn’t do it if you could avoid it. It’s just a lot less headache in that respect. I don’t think they have changed anything really. I think that in-place is still not available if I remember correctly. So, Paul, I don’t know if you have any thoughts on any of this.
Paul: Yeah. Like Becky said, your native upgrade path using database attach is going to have to be from SharePoint 2013. So if you’re on a previous version, you need to upgrade first. There is risk involved with doing that, obviously, because you’re doing multiple upgrades and changing the schema on your database multiple times there. And, as you said, there are a number of third parties. I can think of one in particular that offered a migration tool that will let you skip versions.
In terms of some of the things we need to look out for and what’s changed in 2016, the one that really comes to mind is that we’re losing support for…and so when you migrated from 2010 to 2013, you could leave your sites in 2010 mode. So it would be accessing your templates from the old 14 instead of a 15. We don’t have a similar mechanism in 2016. So that means that all of your sites are going to get upgraded to the new UI version all using the same hive. So if you’re on SharePoint 2013 and you’re ready to migrate to 2016, you’ll need to first upgrade all of your sites to SharePoint 2013 mode and then do your migration.
Dux: So that’s a very, very important point because I’ve worked with customers where while they’re at 2013 from an infrastructure perspective, from a user adoption perspective, they kept it in 2010. So that’s one of the things that you have to think about as you plan. And speaking of planning, one of the key areas, too, from a migration perspective is I feel like this is a great time. It’s like moving. This is a great time to consider that you need to move everything, and you can go through a relatively quick exercise where you look through not just the existing content you have, and you may have content outside of the SharePoint environment. You want to move into 2016 as well. So think about how you can identify what needs to be moved and classify them. Again, it’s the analogy where moving to a new house where you can organize it correctly. Think about where content should go. And once it’s there, ensuring that you’ll be able to enforce a lot of these new classifications in organization that you just put forward.
Now, a couple other questions here. So has anyone seen Power Apps in action? So personally I’ve actually seen it and played with it a little bit, and it’s actually pretty cool. I think of it as like the IFTTT for the enterprise. We’ll have features that build on or replace SharePoint Designer, Workflow, InfoPath. And, again, this is my opinion. I don’t think it’s going to replace those function, but I do think it will have the capability to interact with 2016 and obviously Office 365. Have you guys played with Power Apps, Becky, Paul?
Paul: I’ve not touched it myself, but I’ve seen some pretty in depth demos. So if I were to go back to the question, I think if it was going to replace anything in some cases, it could replace an Infopath form. If it was a pretty simple Infopath form that you wanted to try to make mobile, Power Apps might be a good way to spin something up very quickly, connect to a data source, get some form fields, and get it out to your users.
Dux: Awesome. Can you talk about automatic patching in 2016? Do you guys know about automatic patching capabilities, what your thoughts are? Becky, Paul?
Becky: Yeah. So, actually, I asked Bill Baer if there is some type of patch that they are releasing or giving up that you could play with. There’s no way to test this, so basically it’s supposed to be zero downtime. I am not sure I believe this until I see it to be honest.
Dux: There you go.
Becky: It seems like a unicorn in some ways. I’ve never had zero downtime with patching especially with SharePoint because it’s such a big environment. So I think this depends on how big your environment is, and it needs to be tested more thoroughly. I don’t know. What are your thoughts, Paul?
Paul: So if we think about Zero-downtime patching, it’s really there are two components to it. One is that the updates will be smaller packages. So rather than having this big bang that has a whole bunch of different changes, it might change your schema, it might change some other things, they’re brought down in more discreet packages that you can do in a more like way. And they also provide a way assuming that you have redundant roles for all your different SharePoint roles that you’re supposed to be able to apply these patches in a way where you don’t have to go offline. And in terms of the automatic patching, like Becky said, there’s not really a way to test this yet, but what I have seen and read is that if you’re using Windows updates, you could apply your patches by using the Windows update mechanism.
Dux: There you go. So here are a couple other questions. Now, I’ll go back to the migration conversation because a couple migration questions are coming in. Any improvement for BI, BCS in 2016? Paul?
Paul: That’s not really my area of expertise. I can tell you what I do know, but Becky, I don’t know if you have a better read on it?
Becky: Not really. BI’s not really my specialty. I’m more on the doc side and I’ve done a lot with the hybrid side.
Dux: Okay, and then definitely, so for…there’s a lot of great questions coming in, and in the interest of time, if we don’t get to your questions, we’ll definitely take all this and more blog posts will be coming out soon in 2016. So just give everybody heads up if we weren’t able to answer your question. Do you guys know how 2016 will integrate Infopath forms creation and management?
Becky: Well, so it’s exactly the same as it was in 2013. Essentially they have upgraded nothing and changed nothing. You can use Infopath 2013, the client interface, it’s pretty much the same. They’re not changing it, and they’re not removing it until I believe it’s 2024. So there really isn’t anything that’s different.
Dux: There you go. And by then, 2024, hopefully we’re not in the SharePoint career anymore. Does 2016 support Office 2013 and Office 2010? Yes, it does. With 2016 App Launcher, you can have a unified UX between Office 365 and SharePoint on-prem. With 2013, in a Hybrid scenario, wouldn’t the suite bar be littered with links to Office 365, video, Delve, etc.? I think Becky had touched on this earlier. Is this similar to what you were describing, too?
Becky: I’ve only used 2016. Paul, you’ve actually worked with 2013. So does App Launcher actually show up in 2013?
Paul: The App Launcher will, and no, I wouldn’t say that you’re going to…you’re on-prem. If this is what you’re asking, the on-prem as suite bar won’t be littered with things from Office 365. Really you’ll just get the sites button, which you would have already had, but when you click it, the sites that you followed from across both on-prem and on online will be aggregated.
Dux: So another question here is can you recommend or suggest a tool, a product from migrating existing SharePoint on-premises content to the Cloud? Absolutely. We have wonderful products from AvePoint that can help support you migrate to the Cloud. And one thing I do want to highlight, too, the product aside is those of you who may not be familiar as you migrate content into Office 365 or SharePoint online, there is actually a throttling limit. And what that means is you can only push so much content in a given period of time, and keep me honest here, Paul and Becky, I believe it’s 16 gig? That’s the throttling limit?
Paul: I don’t recall the figure offhand, but that sounds right.
Becky: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think that’s about right.
Dux: And we’ll post this again, but I’m actually working on a post around this idea of a hybrid environment 2016 and moving content to the Cloud because we work with a lot of organizations where they’re gung-ho. They want to go to the Cloud, and they got to get it done in like X number of time, and they have so much content with that throttling limit. Obviously, it’s a challenge. Again, through third party solutions and products, companies like us, we can help do high speed migrations as well.
Paul: Dux, I suppose somebody asked a great question asking what is MinRole, which I think is something that we glossed over. We mentioned it in terms of infrastructure improvements, but didn’t talk exactly about what it is.
Dux: Go for it.
Paul: So the MinRole is a new feature in SharePoint 2016. It’s basically a mechanism and set of rules that allows you to deploy your servers with only the services that you need for a particular role. So Microsoft, as you’re installing, there’s sort of a wizard, and Microsoft defines a bunch of different roles, a search server, a web front end and so forth, and as you deploy, and make your configuration to the individual servers, it will, again, apply only the services necessary for that role, making your installations lighter and more efficient. One thing that is interesting, in order to have a fully, highly available…to have a fully “MinRole” farm, the minimum number of services for, and to make it a highly available MinRole farm, it actually requires nine servers.
So there’s been a bunch of blow back in the community saying, “Hey, I don’t really want to increase my footprint that much. I don’t want to add several servers to my installation. And so the good news is that there’s also “custom role,” and that’s what you would use to add the services and so forth that you want to. So you’re basically installing in the same way that you had in SharePoint 2010 and 2013 using the custom role. And then lastly, as part of the Health Check Analyzer, those are some new checks that they’re adding. Are your servers set up in the most efficient way and enhanced with this new MinRole notion?
Dux: Paul, you still there?
Dux: Awesome. So we got, just time check here, we got about four minutes. I want to take two more questions and, again, we appreciate it, just has been a phenomenal response. A lot of great questions. We’re committed to respond to all of this. You’ll see a lot of blog posts coming out. But this is a relevant question for everybody here. I heard elsewhere that list view resource throttling thresholds above and beyond five-item mark. Can you comment on this?
Paul: You want to take that, Becky, or should I?
Becky: I can touch on it a little bit. They’ve basically listed it, and what they do is they just index all the calls actually automatically in your search indexer from what I understand. So you can put millions of items actually in a view now, and there’s no issues. I believe that’s what it is. Right, Paul?
Paul: Yup. That’s about it right? We used to have a…you could store a lot of items in a list, but there was a threshold that would basically only allow you to view 5,000 items at a time. Now, there’s this automatic indexing as Becky said, and it allows you to effectively remove that limit.
Becky: And you actually could index an item in your list to get past the 5,000 item rule, but you had to do it actually before you hit 5,000 items. So if you hit 5,000, you had to delete an item and then go back on the 4,999. Then basically index your item, and then add that item back in. It was really painful.
Dux: I want to take this one last question. Is the branding, look and feel drastically different in 2016? Like John mentioned earlier, if you’ve been using Office 365 SharePoint online, it’s pretty much the same look and feel. I would even say that it’s not much different than 2013 or SharePoint 2013, and that’s one good thing with this new release from the look and feel. It’s not like when 2007 jumped to 2010, and 2010 jumped to 2013. The UI UX was…there was a big change, but I would say 2013 to 2016, the general look and feel is not drastically changed. Any other thoughts on that, Paul, Becky?
Paul: No. Totally agree. I think everywhere I’ve seen, the biggest change is perhaps in the mobile experience, so there’s an improved mobile template that gives you some nice views on a mobile device, but otherwise, it does mimic pretty closely.
Dux: Boy, this was a great hour. Again, thank you, everyone, for joining. We had over 1,200 people registered, so we’re doing our best to get everyone’s questions answered, and I apologize if we didn’t get to yours. Please know that we’re going to be continuing this conversation on our blog. We’re going to keep posting on AvePoint.com/Community. We’ll be publishing a blog post shortly after this webinar. We’ll give you a recap, and we’ll be answering more of your questions, or feel free read any of our SharePoint 2016 Readiness Guides blogs and post your questions. Feel free to reach out to myself @meetdux on Twitter. Paul, what’s your Twitter handle?
Paul: It is @olenickSP.
Dux: There you go. Becky, what’s your Twitter handle?
Becky: Mine is @undiscovereddev. That’s exactly how it sounds.
Dux: There you go. Thank you gang, and again, a wonderful day to everybody and looking forward to continue this conversation online. We’ll see you in the next webinar, and thank you again for joining, and don’t forget to download our SharePoint 2016 Readiness Guide. Have a great day. Bye.
Paul: Thanks, guys.
Now you know what’s new in SharePoint 2016. Next, watch part two of the SharePoint 2016 Readiness Guide webinar series, Start Your SharePoint 2016 Migration Today! Register now to uncover best practices to optimize your migration to SharePoint 2016 and learn what you can do to prepare today!
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