The rollout of Microsoft SharePoint 2016 has set the business world abuzz. In recent months, a lot of customers and other business professionals have asked me the same question: “Should I upgrade to SharePoint 2016”? Below, I’ve highlighted the four top reasons to upgrade to SharePoint 2016.
1. Stand Alone Tools
The most exciting change for me within SharePoint 2016 is the ability to leverage online tools more seamlessly due to the better hybrid configuration capabilities. Being able to easily leverage the latest tools online can significantly increase the flexibility and functionality of your SharePoint investment.
With the roll out of Office 365 Groups and SharePoint Teams, Microsoft has provided multiple paths to collaboration for today’s businesses.
- With these tools available, you can change the way you approach SharePoint. Don’t create a sub site for the wellness team, create a new Microsoft Team site! Don’t spin up a new private site collection for the IT team when they need to look at a new product, spin up an Office 365 Group! It’s easy, it’s flexible, and it won’t clutter your site structures.
- Integration tools now change the way we work with SharePoint in the cloud, with on premise tools rolling out in the near future. With the deployment of the new Microsoft Flow and Microsoft PowerApps tools, Microsoft seems to be closing the gap between its Office 365 resources and SharePoint. It is no longer difficult and expensive to gather data from your other Office 365 tools or other online tools into SharePoint for workflow or other purposes. Check out these descriptions of Microsoft Flow and PowerApps.
2. New Content Management Features
There are a lot of new Content Management features—we’ll hit a couple of the highlights.
- One feature that has many in the Public Sector excited is the introduction of data encryption of data at rest and in transit, coupled with the introduction of data centers that are completely deployed, supported and maintained in the US, meeting ITAR compliance rules for US Government/Public Sector data. Data in these ITAR compliant Office 365 tenants will be kept within data centers inside the US and supported by individuals that are US Citizens. Read more about it here.
- Another improved feature is on the data security and compliance side of content management. Tools for data loss prevention (DLP) will help administrators configure SharePoint to recognize Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and treat it in such a way that it can be tracked and monitored. These DLP policies can be set up to look for many types of data and control the use of identified data. You can also monitor specific activities like external sharing and permissions changes. You can find more about the compliance center and other tools here.
- Microsoft has also increased the maximum file size limitation from 2 Gb. to 10 Gb. With this change, they also increased the maximum size of content databases to 4 terabytes when certain criteria is met (more here). These enhancements should make SharePoint Administrators pretty happy, but for those who perform database attach upgrades with large databases, it makes us a little cautious about the on premise impact of some of these changes.
3. Infrastructure Improvements
A key change in infrastructure is the introduction of the Min Role deployment, which helps to quickly define your server roles.
- With the added “Single-Server Farm,” “Front-End with Distributed Cache,” and the “Application with Search” roles, Microsoft has increased support for small to medium sized farms. These smaller farm deployment infrastructures are not recommended for production systems, but they definitely allow for the quick deployment of small development farms while still maintaining your Min Role compliant server roles.
- The improved hybrid experience now allows you to integrate more SharePoint features that are solely available in Office 365 into your On-Premise SharePoint environment. Tools like Delve and Search can be more tightly integrated between your two SharePoint environments.
4. Easier Cloud Migration
Microsoft has worked to make many of the previous pain points in moving to the cloud more streamlined and customer friendly. If you’ve ever performed a migration from on premise SharePoint to SharePoint in Office 365 you know that, unless your data is very vanilla and straightforward there are going to be issues getting the data to present in the cloud in the same way it presented itself to you on your Intranet.
- Microsoft has provided tools like FastTrack to help you get moved into the cloud more quickly and painlessly. Additionally, there are many third party software companies with migration tools. You’ll find that moving to the cloud is easier now than ever before.
- If you’re still worried about pulling up stakes and making the complete jump into Office 365, as I mentioned before there are a number of hybrid scenarios where you can host data, both in the cloud and on premise and still give your users a consistent and intuitive SharePoint environment to work in. Check out this TechNet article to view some of these scenarios.
In conclusion, with this upgrade, my opinion of SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online has shifted from one of healthy skepticism to one of excitement. If you are able to upgrade, there are plenty of improvements in SharePoint content management alone that justify the effort and expense. When you combine those improvements with the ability to leverage Groups, Teams, Flow, and PowerApps, etc., I think there are compelling business reasons to migrate. I can’t wait to see what the SharePoint Professional community whips up.
Check out a few of our success stories on our Tribridge SharePoint page and contact us to find out if you are a good candidate for upgrading or migrating into the Cloud.