** Since the recording of this panel, light was shed on details about SharePoint 2016. To get up to speed, watch this webinar from Bill Baer, unveiling SharePoint 2016. **
Early in October, several Office 365 and SharePoint MVPs came to Sharegate's offices to be featured in our annual Just Damn Simple videos (yes I had to tease you about them... But don't worry, they'll be released soon!). During that weekend, we took some time to discuss different SharePoint and Office 365 topics.
As the SharePoint 2016 IT Preview was released earlier this fall, this new update became a hot topic between industry players! Whether you should migrate to it or not, numerous are those who do not agree. I wanted to hear what each and every one of them had to say about the newest SharePoint 2016 and the added value it brings to the table.
I won't bore you with more details about our talk and will let you jump right into it!
Benjamin Niaulin: Welcome, everyone. My name is Benjamin Niaulin. Today, I'm joined by some amazing speakers and friends. We're going to be talking about Office 365, changes in the industry, SharePoint. But before we begin, of course, I'm going to let them introduce themselves. Fabian?
Fabian Williams: Certainly. Well, thank you for having us here, Ben. My name is Fabian Williams. I'm a SharePoint and Xamarin MVP out of Washington, D.C. I work for a company called Planet Technologies, and it's an NSI partner in the D.C. metro area.
Marc Anderson: Thanks. I'm Marc Anderson. I'm from Boston, Massachusetts. And I work for my own company called Sympraxis Consulting. And I love client side programming with SharePoint and Office 365 and pretty much anything, actually.
Jennifer Mason: Awesome. Jennifer Mason, I am from Dallas, Texas. Also work at Planet Technologies, a consulting company that focuses on Microsoft technologies out of Washington, D.C.
Corey Roth: And I'm Corey Roth also out of Dallas, Texas. I do some work at Hitachi Consulting. And I love everything SharePoint and Office 365.
Benjamin: All right, so one thing I wanted to talk about, obviously, SharePoint 2016 is something that's going to come out soon. But I wanted to talk to you about, what do you think of Microsoft releasing another on-premises release? Because we weren't sure for a while... Some of us were. Some of us weren't. There were some rumors. So what do you think about another release on-premises? What do you think of this new hybrid approach and, of course, Office 365 but, more importantly, the challenges that that's going to bring to consultants, developers, administrator, and people in general? Fabian?
Fabian: All right, I'm sorry. I think there's always going to be a need for quite some time for on-premises SharePoint. Not all the customers are going to pick up their stuff and say, "This I have to push it to the cloud," for a variety of reasons. A lot of it could be regulatory. Some people must keep their stuff on-premises, especially we're dealing in an international market, also in terms of data rights and provency. You also have the issue of, do people want better ownership of their data?
However, that being said, in terms of scale, and the cloud gives you that, there's going to be a limit that you're going to hit as a company, and it may inhibit your growth. So you want to be able to have the ability, at least the option, to move to the cloud. So hybrid brings that to you. In fact, there's a term I coined. It's "Hybrid is the new on-prem." On-prem is no longer on your server, because there's cloud services that are never going to make it all the way back down to your servers. It necessitates the fact that you have to have a hybrid solution.
So I think that's what's going to happen. And some people, and especially for organizations that don't want to take that investment in terms of cost, a cloud-only approach may work or at least provide them the ability.
For me as a developer, one of the benefits that I see is that I can quickly proof of concept something for a customer and show it to them. I'm spinning up something in Azure. And they can say, "What? It worked?" Ninety days, cut if off and move forward. So a lot of benefits for me as a developer, a lot of good story points for customers as well.
Marc: A lot of good points there. I think that they had to come out with another version of on-prem, really. As much as some people thought that wasn't going to happen, I think some of us believed that it would have to happen, because there are too many people still on-prem. They still want to use their own equipment. They still want to have everything in their own facilities.
Benjamin: And tech support.
Marc: And I think that's going to continue as long as people have computers. We're going to have to have addressed both sides of the market.
The hybrid story is a great one if you want it. So, again, it all depends on what people need for their business. I've heard you say, I think, everybody has to go to the cloud at some point.
Fabian: But hybrid is the new on-prem because I believe that there are services in the cloud that will never make it way back down to on-prem because you can't scale, for one. Or it may be too costly. So it necessitates hybrid.
Marc: Well, I think "never" is a really tricky word. Things that we never thought were possible are happening all the time.
Jennifer: Like water on Mars.
Marc: Like water on Mars, yeah. So I think the on-prem market will be there for a long time. Having a hybrid option is great.
Benjamin: We didn't talk about that. But what is hybrid when we're talking about SharePoint 2016? We say "hybrid," but what's the benefit? Or how does it connect, really?
Marc: Well, that way, in theory, you get the best of both worlds. You run some of your processing, some of your workloads, as Microsoft says, on-premises. You keep the crown jewels inside your facility. But you can take advantage of some of the things that the cloud provides as well. And so you come up with your own mix. It's like ordering from a Chinese menu, get your appetizers from here and your entrees from there, right?
So I think it's great they've come up with another on-premises version. I think there will be more. I think that they'd be silly to try to ignore that market because it's not going away.
Jennifer: What I love about 2016 and on-prem is I think this is enabling the future. So I think when we look at where we're at right now, they had something like 450 updates to Office 365 last year alone. And that's an insane number. None of that necessarily made it on-prem at that rate. And so I think the things that they've learned from doing Office 365 are going to change the foundation for what's there. And I think we're at the beginning. Or in five years, we're going to be able to look back and say, "Okay, the way we roll out these new releases and the way we do this, it's just different." And so I think that this is our entry point into that.
I'm really excited about what it's enabling. I think of Groups as one in particular where...Groups are a really great thing to use, but a lot of people use the Office client. And Groups was not in the Office client. Well, now, it is with 2016. But then with 2016 Office client, there's the new release cycles where you get features and security monthly or every three months, depending on how your organization sets it up. And so I think we're going to start to see the same thing.
So I'm really excited about this release for that particular reason. I think from a end user perspective, where I spend most of my time focusing on, nothing super great. All the super stuff that I'm looking at and so excited about is in Office 365 first, so it's cloud first.
Corey: Yeah, all the features are very administrator-oriented, right?
Jennifer: Yeah. But they're going to enable me to be able to get what I need better, faster, quicker later. So I think that people are going to be looking at the hybrid investments and saying, "Okay, I can't get there on day one. But what can I do that's hybrid?" I think there are some really amazing features that as of now will not ever go from the cloud back to on-prem.
And I think, like you're saying, Marc, "never" is a strong word. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
Marc: I didn't say that.
Jennifer: Well, likely never, maybe never, I don't know. But they're not going down at least for now and in the near future. But I think they're powerful enough features that are going make organizations have to say, "Is it worth it for me not to have this feature?"
When I look at Delve and some of these other things that are coming out, it's a very powerful feature.
Fabian: How do you scale Delve in an on-premises environment?
Jennifer: You don't.
Fabian: You can't, can't, and won't, never.
Marc: I'm not buying it, Fabian. We never thought we'd have Dick Tracy watches on our arms. And I've got one right here.
Jennifer: Dick who?
Marc: So we can't say "never."
Corey: So I think the SharePoint 2016 release is interesting in a variety of ways. But notice that the features really is focused on two things, making the administrator's life easier and hybrid, right? The end user won't even notice it's probably any different. Maybe the bars at the top's a little different. That kind of upgrade, they're not going to notice.
But I think all these particular things are all about making the IT pro's job easier, if you're still going to be supporting it. And let's face it. There are organizations that either, well, for whatever reason, right, I see the lot in aerospace, things like that, places subject to export control. That stuff is never, and I'm going to say it, going to the cloud, at least to the foreseeable future.
I see also as well with people that invested so much in custom apps. And yeah, Microsoft saying, "Get to the add-in model, the app model," whatever it's called this week and get there fast. And we know we need to. But you've made a lot of investment. You've had some of these applications running 5, 10 years. It's gonna take time. So they're just going to leave it, and they're going to let it run on SharePoint on-prem. But then they'll move some of their other workloads to Office 365. But in the meantime, they'll use 2013, 2016, or whatever, right?
Benjamin: And I think it's interesting, to piggyback on that. I think the hybrid story for SharePoint 2016, they brought that to SharePoint 2013 users, right?
Corey: Yes, the search, the cloud search service application, yeah, I can never say it right. I always get it wrong the first time, right? But that is a big deal. And that's going to let you bring on-premises data into your Office 365 environment, whether that's a file share or local SharePoint content or even custom stuff to VCS connections or whatever back in systems. That's very powerful.
Fabian: But to your point, though, I'm glad you introduced that topic, is that the fact that even they're doing a 2016 release cycle, but then they're doing investments in hybrid in 2013 is telling that even Microsoft knows that people aren't going to turn off the 2010, 2013 machine and move to 2016. They're still making investments that are at a very high level, that are very cloud-centric in older versions.
Jennifer: And I think when you look at the end users, they say it... It makes me cringe every time they say it, like the drinking game, "mobile-first, cloud-first, mobile-first, cloud-first." Where are you going to start to see people getting pushed to go to newer releases is when they're user-based, who at the end of the day, users do not care if you're hybrid. They do not care if you're on-prem. They do not care if you're in their mother's basement. They do not care. But they care if I can get my data on my iPhone, if I can get it when I go to my computer, and if I can grab my tablet so that when I'm watching TV with the kids, I can still be checking my numbers, and I could be checking documents, and I can be editing PowerPoint.
Marc: But that's really important because most of what we've been talking about has been the technical answer to Ben's question, original question. It was a big long question. In the grand scheme of things, none of this matters unless users see some reason to go for this new functionality. When IT pushes this stuff out, without users pulling it, it usually doesn't work. It just becomes more complicated. People have to learn more.
So I think the key here for Microsoft, the key here for us, if we believe that 2016 and the hybrid model and all the things we've just been talking about actually are going to serve our purpose, is to come up with a way to explain that to user bases so that they can say, "I need that thing because that will make my department or my organization more productive."
I'm not sure we've done a good job of that just in general in this community over the years. We tend to say, "But the new version's out." We want that, that great new software smell. But what we really need to do is match whatever those capabilities are to business requirements.
Corey: That's a great point. You really hit on it. I think where in previous versions, end users are power users. People marketing communications caught wind, "Oh, there's this new search feature or something in SharePoint. And that will let me publish articles easier." So they were pushing for some of the adoption. But this time, if they were at Ignite or something seeing something. I don't care. It doesn't make any difference for us, right?
Fabian: Previously, Microsoft was going to a vacuum, listen to what possibly customers say, interview MVPs to see what they do in the community and what their customers and then build. Now, we have the introduction of UserVoice. And with UserVoice, customers can have an impact in terms of what comes out. And with the shorter release cycle in Office 365, that happens first, to your point. And then it trickles down into on-premises.
So I think the entire philosophy of how Microsoft even brings things to market has changed. And customers have a voice now more so than ever.
Benjamin: Yeah, just to finish off a little bit on this point, and it's been one of my...I don't know how the expression goes in English. But I've been trying to express that quite a bit. And it goes back to what you were saying, Marc, is right now people have a choice. The business users and organizations, they have Dropbox, right? Slack, Yammer. That's how Yammer came in originally is business created the network. And then ITs was like "Oh, okay, well, we got to start managing that." And that's the reality, because I can go pick up a subscription. It works. I get my team on it. And that is a different reality today.
So we need, as I teach, revolve to change, right. The theme of Ignite was "Transform, Think, Reinvent." We kept seeing the word. And that's what's happening. So IT needs to change. And we need to not just start saying, okay, I'm going to 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 just for upgrading the platform. I have to look at, okay, we've got this problem. And to solve it, perhaps, it's Office 365 Delve or Groups. And that's what these portals, and we'll talk about that a bit. But I think that's why they're trying to give us that hybrid story. So we can still do what we needed to do as IT and as the platform and give people or the individuals a choice. But instead of that choice being Dropbox, it's OneDrive for business. And we still got IRM and all of these other things that stays within our ecosystem that you can manage control and apps and all of that.
Jennifer: Yeah, definitely.
Marc: Yeah, I've been saying this for a long time, but I'm going to reiterate it right now.
Marc: We no longer can put out systems that end users think suck, because then they will go to these outside services. And those services are awesome. The reason people go to things like Slack or Asana for task management or... you name it. There are just hundreds of these things. The reason they go outside and go rogue is, the IT department says, the end users don't see it as going rogue. They see it at solving their problem.
Marc: So that's why we have to be able to solve their problem. If SharePoint 2016 helps with that, awesome. If it doesn't, then maybe it's not a great upgrade for you. I'll say it. I'll say it out loud. We have to have a reason to do these upgrades.