Sharepoint in the O365 Environment
Sharepoint Server 2016 Release Candidate
Sharepoint Server 2016 Release Candidate is available at this time in March 2016 from Microsoft. While previously planned releases of Sharepoint Server 2016 were delayed, they have now finally made the Release Candidate version available after months of the Beta version’s availability for download.
While Sharepoint 2016 (SP2016) has many enhanced features from the widely distributed 2013 version of Sharepoint, perhaps the most notable distinction associated with SP2016 are the hybrid capabilities. While Microsoft has worked hard to encourage organizations using Sharepoint to forego the traditional on-premise collaboration portal, document management, and version control systems hosted in local server environments in exchange for their future vision of complete cloud conversion through migration to the Office 365 environment hosted by Microsoft – they have clearly come to recognize that many companies will choose to continue employing older versions of Sharepoint, rather than upgrade and move all of their electronic document assets into the cloud.
On-Premise | Cloud | Or Hybrid
Sharepoint 2016 provides the ability to remain entirely on-premise, to move entirely into the cloud, or to utilize a hybrid solution of partial on-prem/partial cloud, thereby removing the former disadvantages experienced by those dedicated to the on-premise solutions where they did not have access to many of the new applications the cloud provides. Not only does this further enable on-premise users, but it also provides them with a ‘taste’ of cloud capabilities they may not otherwise have enjoyed, and potentially delivers a stronger sales edge to support Microsoft’s longer-term endeavor of moving all Sharepoint customers into a cloud environment.
Reminiscent of Apple’s successful efforts in gathering clients who may never have purchased Apple computers by selling them smaller products such as $50 and $100 IPods or the more expensive IPhones, familiarizing the public with the company much more so than they would have been if the only option had been Apple computers priced between $1500 and $5000 as general ranges.
Microsoft is in a different way offering a taste in a situation that while the decisions involved are not monetarily based, are still associated with change management issues including user experience, as well as security and other environment related concerns.
New Features in Sharepoint 2016
As of January 20, 2016 Microsoft was still noting they expect to provide Sharepoint Server 2016 for general release in the spring of 2016.
New features of SP2016 include enhanced administration and configuration capabilities for setting regulatory policies, centralized audit management, improved mobile access with touch-based capabilities across varied devices and screen sizes, a standardized set of API’s for use either in or both in on-premise installations and cloud environments, and feature enhancements for document collaboration and file storage.
The hybrid capabilities of Sharepoint 2016 mean data flow between devices and document storage locations; system integration to connect and merge data changes and additions between cloud applications and on-premise data.
Applications noted as part of the overall compatibility and integration capabilities of the hybrid Microsoft offerings are Sharepoint, Exchange, Skype for Business, Power BI, Delve, OneDrive, Cloud Search Service, Yammer, Duet, and Azure Active Directory.
(What does release candidate mean? – Release candidate is a post-beta version that may become the final version of a software product, but which may not become the final version as the release candidate version label indicates the company providing the software is not convinced that as yet unknown bugs may not still surface significant enough to provide the need for the release of a newer version that is officially termed as the ‘final version’.)
View more details on Microsoft’s blog: https://blogs.office.com/2016/01/20/sharepoint-server-2016-and-project-server-2016-release-candidate-available/
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Migrating to Sharepoint 2016
If you are already using older versions of Sharepoint (e.g. Sharepoint 2013, Sharepoint 2010, WSS 3.0, WSS 2.0) then you likely have documents that need to be migrated in order to begin using Sharepoint 2016.
There are a few important points to note about Sharepoint 2016 migration as part of this consideration/planning process.
- Using the database attach method with migration requires stepping through versions. If you are currently using Sharepoint 2010, you have to first migrate to Sharepoint 2013 before you can use the database attach method to migrate to Sharepoint 2016 as part of the database upgrade process, which is separate from the site collection upgrade process.
- There are 3rd party tools on the market that you can use to upgrade older versions of Sharepoint directly to the latest Sharepoint 2016 version, however, it does take a lot of time because these tools use comprehensive 'copying' type technologies that run processes moving both the data and the meta data from one server environment to another.
- Planning and completing a Sharepoint migration process can take a very long time, depending on aspects of your organizational requirements as well as the amount of data you will be migrating. While a Sharepoint migration job may seem simple at first, without running a thorough audit and inventory of the site, you cannot surely be aware of all the Sharepoint site contains, nor of the applications it utilizes unless you are the only person who has ever touched that Sharepoint site - Ever...
- All 3rd party applications and plug-ins may not appear in every audit report.
- Survey data is sometimes easy to migrate and sometimes very difficult to migrate.
- Workflows and forms may be a very tricky point of your Sharepoint migration.
- Customizations to a Sharepoint site may block some migration applications from functioning correctly.
- User data may not populate across from the old site to the new site if the users are no longer active employees of the company, meaning you need to evaluate what historical data is important to your company and what document retention policies for your organization entail, and how you will manage potential hiccups.
- If you try to simply copy out all documents from your old Sharepoint site to upload to your new Sharepoint site, you will likely be losing all versions, all metadata such as created date, modified date, modified by, etc.
- Some migration tools work with O365 and some do not.
- Some migration tools do not work with some older versions of Sharepoint.
- Make sure you have thoroughly ensured you have the tools to get every aspect of the job completed before you fully nail down a scope of work.
- Always allow extra time for potential complications - after all...It's Sharepoint.
© 2016 Alicia Crowder