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Update: SharePoint Server 2015 now SharePoint Server 2016

SharePoint-logoIn March last year, we first heard Microsoft’s commitment to the next server version of SharePoint, dubbed SharePoint 2015. It’s been more than a few months since that announcement, and we have yet to hear anything further. Until today!
Julia White, General Manager of the Office Product Team (SharePoint is part of Office), released a very detailed blog today detailing what’s next for SharePoint – online and on-premises. There are some really big announcements in this blog, I encourage you to read through it. Here are a few of my key takeaways:
1. Microsoft is committed to on-premises
A big amount of text in this post was dedicated to reassuring on-premises customers that there will in fact be a new server release. Because of the amount of time since SPC in March, customers have become very concerned with the lack of information, and rightly so! A number of our clients at Perficient are in this position, they have made large commitments to SharePoint on-premises and they are not yet ready (or can’t yet) move to the cloud. In this announcement, Microsoft stepped up in a big way to reassure these customers.
2. Microsoft is committed to Experiences
As we’ve seen the Microsoft Cloud continue to grow, specifically in Office 365 with Office Delve, Office Graph, and the NextGen Portals, we are starting to see the new paradigm for Microsoft – Experiences. From Search to BI to Social to Groups – the new focus in the cloud will be experiences.
3. Don’t expect many new features for SharePoint on-premises
If you could read between the lines in this announcement, you’ll see that there is no plan to implement any these new experiences in the on-premises version. Microsoft will continue to support hybrid architectures and the API extensibility will continue to grow, but don’t expect to get Office Delve on-premises. These new experiences will remain cloud only. And the lack of other feature announcements for SharePoint Server 2016, makes me think there won’t be any major new additions as we’ve seen in previous server versions.
4. Hybrid, Hybrid, Hybrid
If your living in SharePoint on-premises today and you are not yet running an Office 365 hybrid, get ready! Everyone wants to go to the cloud, but not everyone is able quite yet. Data security, regulatory requirements, and other legal factors make a full transition to the cloud for some organizations impossible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t think about hybrid architectures. There are a ton of options already today. We have worked with our customers extensively in this area and have built some truly unique hybrid environments. As the experiences in the cloud continue to grow, so will the desire to go hybrid, and Microsoft is fully onboard towards supporting these deployments.
5. SharePoint Server 2016 Security
The one improvement Julia did mention for SharePoint Server 2016 – a commitment to security. Rights Management, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), eDiscovery, Legal Hold, Metadata Management and Policy Control, in addition to capabilities such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) have been gradually coming of age in the cloud. Expect to see improvements in these areas for on-premises customers. I suspect some of these new features will also help enable new, and more secure, hybrid architectures.
Well, lots of good news in today’s announcement. Keep an eye on this blog for more information on SharePoint Server 2016!

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