With the preview available for SharePoint 2016, it was only fitting that the August 2015 #CollabTalk tweetjam focus on the latest release out of Redmond. Behind the title of "The Resurgence Behind SharePoint 2016" we assembled a panel of MCMs, MVPs, Microsoft employees, and various experts from around the community to share their thoughts on the state of SharePoint today. The entire event is driven through Twitter using the #CollabTalk hashtag, but we also have a site at Twubs.com/CollabTalk that allows you to control the speed at which the tweets fly by, giving you a better reading experience.
What I love about the tweetjam model is that it forces you to be focused and concise in your comments. It other words, it's very difficult for any one person to dominate the conversation. Of course, I've been running these tweetjams for almost 3 years now, and I still hear from people each month who dislike the format -- because it moves fast and can be difficult to follow. It's definitely not for everyone, but the pace as well as the ability for anyone to jump in and participate means that your hour is jam-packed with ideas and content and new connections.
If you missed this month's discussion, here is my take on the questions asked:
- What is the current state of SharePoint today – as a brand and as a platform?
SharePoint has lost some of its luster over the last couple years, as Microsoft has turned its attention to the broader Office 365 story. But more importantly, in my view Microsoft lost site of the SharePoint story and value proposition, and has not been successful is helping those customers understand SharePoint's value within the Office 365 cloud story. The messaging has been unclear -- but with Microsoft's renewed commitment to on prem and hybrid, and Jeff Teper's return to SharePoint leadership, my sense is that people are once again optimistic. And more importantly, customers are feeling more optimistic that investments made today will still have value a few years down the road.
- What are your expectations for SharePoint 2016?
I think this is a foundational release -- the first on prem release since Microsoft moved primary development to the cloud. As a result, much of what we'll see from this release will support Microsoft's hybrid strategy. The focus is still very much on the cloud, and what we'll see on prem has largely already been delivered for the cloud. So my expectation is to see a trickle of features and capabilities already available in the cloud to find their way to on prem, allowing organizations who cannot or will not move to the cloud to transition via hybrid capabilities.
- Does Microsoft’s continued support for on-prem curtail movement to the cloud?
In some ways, yes, I do believe that improving the capability of on prem does impact customers who might otherwise consider moving to the cloud. However, this is where Microsoft can be smart about their strategy and increasingly offer features that bridge the gap between on prem and the cloud. So instead of pushing people to the cloud ("We're all in! Are you all in!?") its more of a pull strategy, enticing them with expanded hybrid capability.
- Is hybrid SharePoint a transition, or a permanent state?
I view it as a transition, but a transition without a timeframe. I do believe that, eventually, all of our systems and data will be in the cloud - regardless of industry or requirements. I'm just not going to put a projected date on that. Might be 10 years or longer.
- Which features are most likely to convince on-prem customers to adopt the cloud?
A few folks in the tweetjam had solid opinions on which features might be a draw for the cloud, but my answer is more generic: any hybrid capability that utilizes cloud assets is going to help draw people toward the cloud. With customers I work with, there are 3 primary reasons for not moving all production systems to the cloud: lack of control over the user experience, lack of governance/administration parity between online and on prem, and performance. Microsoft will be able to handle the first two more readily than the third, but they are all issues that organizations must address as part of their planning efforts.
- How fast do you anticipate moving to SharePoint 2016 compared to previous releases?
Factors that could increase the speed of movement to 2016 include Microsoft's plans for at least one more on prem release (and possibly more beyond that depending on market demand) and increased support for hybrid solutions. Factors that could slow migrations and upgrades include stronger capability (like cloud connectors) to older versions of SharePoint, and limits on perceived value of moving. Overall, I see it as a wash -- movement to SP2016 will largely mirror movement to 2013.
- What does SharePoint need to do next? Where should Microsoft focus their R&D?
Continued investments in hybrid, more connectivity between SharePoint and competing technologies -- making SharePoint an even stronger central platform for all intranet and extranet strategies.
For a full tweet-by-tweet recap that you can scroll through at your own speed, be sure to check out my Storify profile for this month's event -- and past events. The next #CollabTalk tweetjam will take place on Friday, September 18th at 9am Pacific. I usually publish the topic and panel about a week in advance, so be sure to add pencil in the event on your calendar, and follow me on Twitter at @buckleyplanet for updates.