At the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas in March 2014, the Microsoft product leadership shared some insights into the direction of the SharePoint user experience, announcing the availability of the Codename Oslo interface (now branded as Delve) by end of year for Office 365 customers, and the further integration of Yammer. While almost every new innovation coming out of the product teams in Redmond seem to be focused on the cloud, it was only natural that on prem customers – and those building out hybrid solutions with both on prem and cloud components – would have questions about how these innovations would find their way into the next on prem SharePoint release, currently scheduled for late 2015/early 2016.
The focus of the May 2014 #CollabTalk tweetjam, which took place May 29th, was “What it takes to get hybrid SharePoint right” and included a huge panel of experts from the community, sharing their real-world experience, as well as both their frustrations and their optimism for what is coming next. For the 6th question, I asked the panel and participants “What features/solutions should Microsoft focus on to improve hybrid deployments?”
Many of the announcements surrounding SharePoint and Office 365 have been focused on the developments surrounding Office Graph and inline (embedded) social capabilities. Instead of driving the direction of the conversation by jumping into these topics, I thought I’d let the panel drive the conversation, and see where it took us.
Of course, we always seem to launch into a new topic with snarky answers. SharePoint MVP and Rackspace design guru Randy Drisgill (@drisgill) was quick to define one parallel-universe. And, of course, I felt the need to pile on, followed by Director of Product Management at Metalogix, Steve Marsh (@drstevemarsh) with a funny-yet-probable guess into Microsoft’s device roadmap:
All joking aside, some of our panelists made good points about where the UX should be heading, adding in a few wish list items. SharePoint MVP and StoneShare CTO Nick Kellett (@nickkellett) touched on a theme that has been part of community discussions for many months now – the idea that SharePoint as a brand is, simply put, going away.
This topic is at the root of many heated discussions within the community, with people reading into every official statement (or reading into what is not said) about the future of SharePoint. What Microsoft has said is that we will continue to see SharePoint on premises releases as long as the market demands it, with a new version coming end of 2015 and every 2-3 years going forward, which is the same release cadence we have had with previous versions. However, Nick’s point remains: SharePoint as a brand may slowly fade into the Office 365 brand, even though the technology underneath new releases (such as OneDrive for Business, and the file capability within Yammer) are undoubtedly SharePoint. Microsoft’s recent announcement that the standalone SharePoint, Lync, Project, Exchange, and TechEd conferences will be folded into one unified event just throws fuel onto the fire.
Aside from that, participants had some more specific requests. Kanwal Khipple (@kkhipple), SharePoint MVP and director of digital strategy at Envision IT and Randy Drisgill outlined a few of their requests for Microsoft:
Trevor Dyck (@trevor_d_), Director of Product Management at Colligo, was the first to bring up the idea of a more integrated solution – which is essentially where the platform is heading, according to Microsoft. The latest development that makes this case are the advances surrounding inline Yammer capabilities, allowing the user to collaborate via Yammer within the productivity application they are using (Word, PowerPoint, Outlook). Machine learning and anticipatory computing expert Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny), CTO from ManyWorlds, expanded on Trevor’s comment:
And leave it to SharePoint MVP and president of Sympraxis Consulting, Marc Anderson (@sympmarc) to bring us all back down to earth with a simple question, but focused on business results:
For more information on where Microsoft is going with SharePoint and the overall Office 365 platform, be sure to bookmark the fairly comprehensive Office 365 Roadmap site, which is the most up-to-date collection of features in development and recently launched.
And for more community feedback on this topic, be sure to check out the Storify summary of the tweetjam, which contains a tweet-by-tweet recap. And in the final article in this series, our panelists will give some advice to administrators who are considering building out a hybrid SharePoint environment, so don’t miss it!