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Microsoft Ignite

SharePoint, OneDrive & Office 365 Collaboration Announcements from Ignite 2017

I will be keeping track of all of the announcements that I can keep up with around SharePoint, OneDrive, and the Office 365 collaboration space at Microsoft Ignite next week using Sway. Since I am using Sway you will be seeing my updates live as I type and publish them.  That means this will be an evergreen Sway and hopefully a 1 stop shop for anyone looking to catch up on all the great news coming out of Ignite. 

 

Microsoft Ignite & SharePoint/O365 – Outcomes

MSIgnite

Well this blog post is coming in quite late as Microsoft Ignite was a little less than a month ago. But I believe in better late than never and there are some good topics that I wanted to follow up with. I was lucky enough to attend Ignite with a great group of folks from Concurrency and was also able to do some great networking to meet new folks in the SharePoint and O365 collaboration world. My initial reaction of Ignite was that it was a little overwhelming at times. Coming from the world of smaller SharePoint conferences having 20k+ people in a giant building with all different types of Microsoft technology led to some long walks and not many deep dive sessions. With the amount of announcements in the Office 365 and SharePoint Server 2016 space that were being discussed it was and still is a challenge to keep up with. Looking at the conference from a strictly SharePoint perspective it felt limited at times. Many of the primary SharePoint sessions were packed to the brim and had to be held in overflow areas. I think this directly spoke to the overwhelming usage that SharePoint has in the enterprise still. I am now very excited to attend the smaller SharePoint specific conferences such as SharePoint Fest and SPTechCon to dig deep into the new experiences. I have been trying to go through all of the videos on Channel 9 but there are so many good ones. If you want to download the videos and slides directly here is a link for instructions on how to do it.

In this post I will try to highlight what I believe to be the best sessions for collaboration around SharePoint and Office 365 and also review my pre-conference predictions.

My prediction outcomes

NextGen Portals

Ok we all knew they were already going to announce something but this still was an exciting topic. The new Knowledge Management portal currently called Codename “InfoPedia” was demonstrated. It was apparent that this portal was still in the early stages of development but their strategy to deploy a KM could be great. The new KM portal will consist of Boards, Articles and Microsites in which users are empowered to generate content quickly in a standardized and already styled way. This leads to a more organically and horizontal growing solution rather than a pre-determined hierarchical solution. Here a great post from Benjamin Niaulin about this topic.

Recommended sessions for this topic:

OneDrive for Business Sync Updates

Again we knew this coming but everything announced here was great news. I could write multiple blog posts on all of the new stuff they announced around this topic but here are the juicy highlights. The new OD4B sync client will use the current OneDrive protocol. There will be a unified sync client across OneDrive and OneDrive for Business platforms and the preview and RTM client will be available by end of year. Some other important things to note with the new client:

    • Selective sync (everyone have a round of applause for this one)
    • No more 20k file limit
    • Support for up to 10GB files
    • Blocking of unmanaged PCs
    • Includes PC and Mac

Recommended sessions for this topic:

Simplified Hybrid with SharePoint

I attended the SharePoint Hybrid pre-conference at Ignite and got to see first hand what is coming with hybrid in SharePoint and Office 365. Overall the strategy is clear to me that hybrid will be the new on-premises. There are features that will only be available in Office 365 and Microsoft’s strategy is not to bring you to the cloud but bring the cloud to you. This will allow enterprises to opt-in to hybrid on your own terms. This was very obvious in their hybrid strategy moving forward. Microsoft is trying to make they hybrid experience transparent. I won’t go deep into any of these strategies but if you want to discuss them just shoot me an email or a tweet. Their primary pillars are:

    • Hybrid Search
    • Hybrid OneDrive
    • Hybrid Extranet
    • Hybrid Team Sites
    • Cloud-drive Hybrid Picker
    • In the future with no further info yet…
      • Hybrid taxonomy story
      • Hybrid DLP
      • Hybrid eDiscovery

Recommended sessions for this topic:

What I hoped to see

Future of Forms

Isn’t this everyone’s favorite SharePoint topic? I came in hoping to hear something about forms, or at least anything. With the incredible amount of announcements there was still nothing new on forms. The current state still exists in which InfoPath 2013 will continue to work in Office 365 and SharePoint Server 2016. The only time I heard forms being discussed in a session was during the MVP panel that I linked to above. The panel confirmed the current state and provided similar input to what I am currently telling my clients. If it is a small list form customization go ahead with InfoPath. If you have a larger and more long term forms requirement it is time to look at a 3rd party or custom development.

Future of SharePoint Workflow

There were not architectural changes announced during Ignite. With a total of 0 sessions and 0 discussions about workflow during Ignite I would tend to lean towards the thought that there will be no architectural changes. Workflow will continue to run on Workflow Foundation 4 as an external resource as it does today on-premises and in Office 365. Now there was some news that will affect workflow creators.

There will not be a SharePoint Designer 2016 but SharePoint Designer 2013 will continue to be supported.

I think this is an important step in the evolution of productivity in SharePoint and Office 365. Obviously SharePoint Designer was built with on-premises as its base. That much control is unnecessary in a cloud solution like Office 365. So on that side it makes sense to start bringing in limits. And of course anyone who has used SharePoint Designer heavily in the past knows it was a very buggy product that loved to crash. It is important to remember that we are over a year away from the release of SharePoint Server 2016 so there will be more news around this topic.

As far as workflow creation, I do believe that this is a step in the right direction and hope to see a browser based workflow creation experience. I will also use this time to plug my session at SPBiz that is directly related to SharePoint Designer workflows. This should be a great free online conference.

Future of Yammer

I was very wrong with my prediction here. I was leaning towards the thought that brand for “Yammer” itself would be going away. It was stated pretty loud and clear that this was not the case. There were multiple sessions around this solution including the Yammer Roadmap. Yammer is here to stay and will have a place in the Office 365 ecosystem. Each experience that comes with Office 365 does have its appropriate use cases. The challenge that we currently are and will continue to face is the confusion around when and where to use an experience. There was even a session around this topic titled How to Decide When to Use SharePoint and Yammer and Office 365 Groups and Outlook and Skype. Obviously if we had to have a major session on this topic there is confusion on what to do. I hope this vision continues to clear moving forward.

One item of note around Yammer and Office 365 is that the UI for Yammer is changing to align better with the rest of Office 365. If you are a part of the Office 365 Network (and if you’re reading my blog and are not, go join it now) you are already seeing these changes happening.

The Site Actions Menu in SharePoint Server 2016 not changing locations from the top right

I can confirm that it is staying in the right from the demos performed. No need for any panic from the community.

Anything else interesting?

I think the winner of most interesting topic during Ignite and so far after Ignite has been Office 365 Groups. Microsoft is putting a ton of time and effort into this collaboration experience. I believe that Office 365 Groups still need some help around the governance and control but they will be a go to solution in the future. Here is a link to a great blog post from Nik Patel that will go into a little more detail. Overall groups will be an experience that encompasses nearly all aspects of Office 365.

yammer-post-image

Recommended sessions for this topic:

Here are some other interesting topics and some sessions about each.

SharePoint Server 2016

Office 365 Security

Office 365 Migration API

 

I look forward to the next Microsoft Ignite conference in 2016 coming back to Chicago on May 9-13. It will be interesting to look back on this post and see how different the landscape moves in just 1 year.