SharePoint Server 2016 is unlike any previous release of SharePoint and going forward, it will be a platform that continues to evolve to provide delightful experiences for users. The reason? Microsoft product teams used the learnings, metrics, and code already running in the cloud and applied it to the Server product. It’s that close relationship with the cloud that enables SharePoint Server 2016 to unlock business value and it happens through seamless hybrid experiences.
Let’s discuss some of these hybrid experiences in more detail.
Hybrid OneDrive and Profiles
Hybrid OneDrive refers to the ability to choose where each user has their work-related private files stored, in the cloud or on-premises. As you’ll see with other experiences, it isn’t an all or nothing choice. With SharePoint Server 2016, I can easily define audiences and put users in those audiences and specify where I want their OneDrive for Business to be created. For example, I may not want my factory workers to need an Office 365 license, they produce few documents, but I still want a secure place for them to put those files. I can specify that factory workers’ OneDrive for Business will be on-premises while everyone else gets one created in Office 365. While everyone else enjoys a 1 TB storage quota, I can specify something much lower for my factory workers and not have to spend extra money on storage.
Similarly, for profiles, using redirection in SharePoint Server 2016 enables some users to have a new enhanced profile experience in Office 365. The new profile experience features a selectable cover photo, 1-click message button (which opens a Skype for Business conversation), and as you’d expect, basic contact information and an interactive organization chart.
Hybrid Team Sites
Hybrid Team Sites refers to the ability to choose where to host collaborative sites and isn’t limited to just the “Team Site” template. It equally applies to other templates like Project Site, Developer Site, and Blogs. With the SharePoint Server 2016, the “Sites” page keeps track of all your sites, regardless of where they’re hosted or which template they use. You can choose to follow sites where you have an interest and quickly see recent sites and recommended sites.
For example, based on some regulatory requirements, some sites may need to be hosted on-premises. We can easily create a site provisioning form to ask the appropriate questions and determine if a site needs to be hosted on-premises.
There may be other cases where Office 365 is a better fit. For example, consider Access Services. While it is powerful because it allows information workers to create compelling apps, it is difficult to setup and maintain on-premises. If you wanted to avoid the headaches, you could simply host sites using Access Services in Office 365.
SharePoint Server 2013 was the “social” release with new features like communities, blogs, newsfeeds, hashtags, and more. SharePoint Server 2016 retains all of those features and makes it easy to leverage services from Office 365, like Yammer. As with SharePoint Server 2013, you can use Yammer embed to place a social feed on any site or page. You can do this easily and automatically using publicly available code for Provisioning Yammer feeds.
Perhaps Yammer isn’t suitable for all of your content. SharePoint Communities offer a different approach, based on patterns of traditional message boards. Hybrid Social means you can use the best of both worlds.
Hybrid Discovery is the term I’m using to refer to any feature that relates to finding information, on-premises or online. First, we have true hybrid search experiences. With SharePoint Server 2016, you can configure your search indexes to be hosted in the cloud, merged with your online indexes. This means that relevancy, analytics and results are inclusive.
Second, eDiscovery can now look at your entire corpus of content as one. A single search gives results from both on-premises and online. This is especially useful in scenarios where your eDiscovery search is focused on a user or set of users who may have content spread across locations.
Third, you can now bring the power of the Office Graph and specifically Delve to your on-premises content. Delve shows me popular documents, what my teammates are working on, related content and surfaces content that I might find interesting. I want, no I need, that information for content on-premises equally as much as the content that’s online.
I only touched on a few of the scenarios where SharePoint Server 2016 unlocks business value through hybrid experiences. There’s more, and I’m sure you’ll see information coming soon or have a chance to explore yourself. Hybrid experiences are really compelling, that’s why the SharePoint 2016 Product Line Architecture (PLA) is a hybrid architecture. The PLA takes the best of Microsoft’s learnings from the cloud, projects with customers, Premier and broad support and repeated consulting engagements to come up with a reference architecture. Find out more by contacting your Microsoft representative and by visiting the PLA blog.