EDIT (March 9, 2016): There may be some confusion regarding who develops the PLA. The PLA is a reference architecture developed and maintained by Microsoft Enterprise Services, not the product group(s). Therefore, customers (or partners) must contact Microsoft Enterprise Services to deploy the PLA if it is the right fit; our partners may have their own reference architectures that you can deploy instead.
As the SharePoint motto goes, we’re “working on it.” That’s right, we’re hard at work on creating an update of the SharePoint 2013 PLA for SharePoint Server 2016.
As a refresher, you should review the following posts found on this blog:
- Introducing the Microsoft Product Line Architecture which explains what the PLA is.
- Benefits of using the Product Line Architecture which explains the value to you as a customer.
- SharePoint PLA in 2015 which touches on including hybrid scenarios (which we did).
In designing the PLA, we look at deployments across our customers, future needs, current and anticipated trends. In doing so, we follow the 80/20 rule; create something that 80% of our customers can use while spending 20% of the effort. In looking at TechNet’s Plan for SharePoint 2013 articles, you can see topics on requirements gathering, planning worksheets, and planning articles for every major feature of the product. Most organizations just don’t have the time to invest in detailed planning and more importantly don’t have the inputs to determine the right design.
Before we look at what’s in store for SharePoint 2016 PLA, we need to understand the “A,” that is, the architecture. My favorite definition comes from Wikipedia, with a twist. Architecture is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings and other physical structures. In this post I’ll focus on the product or the result and not on the process.
A More Modern Architecture
When we tried to design an architecture that was low cost but still high value, it really wasn’t possible without hybrid capabilities. Office 365 has far surpassed the on-premises products with the set of experiences it can deliver though cloud-only capabilities.
More importantly, most of our customers are seeing the value, added security, and richer experiences delivered by Office 365 and are choosing hybrid architectures themselves. We saw this with SharePoint 2013 over a year ago and I wrote Introducing the hybrid add-on which describes a use case and design for hybrid. Since then, hybrid deployments have seemingly accelerated with no signs of slowing down.
With SharePoint Server 2016, it’s easier than ever to create hybrid experiences that are seamless to your users. That’s why the SharePoint 2016 PLA is a hybrid architecture.
What Does That Mean?
Starting with a prescriptive, scalable, reliable, highly-available architecture provides you with a full set of capabilities to provide to your users. With this hybrid architecture, you have the flexibility to host content and solutions where they make sense most and you don’t need to spend a ton of time planning and designing.
But what if you’re still not considering leveraging the cloud in any way? The SharePoint 2016 PLA is still the best predefined architecture to start with, and you would simply choose to forego any cloud integration right now. This does come with a drawback though, a slightly reduced set of capabilities. For example, Office Video, Planner, and Yammer to name a few, are only available in the cloud.
What about upgrades and migrations? You may be comfortable with the cloud but aren’t ready to bulk move everything just yet. Implementing the SharePoint 2016 PLA gives you the flexibility to migrate content at your own pace. You could easily upgrade your content and services to SharePoint Server 2016 immediately, while planning your migration to Office 365 over a longer term. With the right architecture in place, you decide how and when to roll out capabilities and features to delight your users. Stay tuned for more posts on SharePoint and other Product Line Architectures.