With the new release of SharePoint 2016 upon us, many are wondering what’s new and how can it have an impact on their organizations. Is it worth the upgrade if you’re already on SharePoint? Should you migrate to it if you are on file shares?
To help address these questions, and give a tour of SharePoint 2016, I invited Bill Baer, Senior Technical Product Manager at Microsoft, to discuss his product and answer some questions. For those still skeptical about the interest in SharePoint, there were 8000 people registered to see what’s new in SharePoint 2016.
Unveiling SharePoint 2016 with Bill Baer
If you’re interested in seeing what’s new, as well as hearing some of the questions during the Q&A at the end, as well as Bill’s answers, we’ve recorded the event. It is now available to watch below.
With so many live attendees, the volume of questions received was a lot higher than our ability to answer all of them in a timely manner.
Stay tuned as I pick out all the questions, and take the time to answer them in FAQ format in the coming days or weeks.
There were a lot of great questions, whether they were on InfoPath, Workflows, Hybrid Search, SharePoint Designer, or almost everything remotely close to SharePoint 2016 and its future.
In the meantime, while I get started on putting the hundreds of questions together and answering them, you can also read up on the new features in SharePoint 2016.
The Future of SharePoint live event on May 4th 2016
There’s still a lot cooking up on the SharePoint front, with a lot more to come. I often get asked if it’s worth migrating to SharePoint 2016, or see comments of “not that much that justifies my upgrade”, and I hear you. If I didn’t know, or hadn’t seen, what is going to be shown in the coming months, I would be right there with you.
Don’t miss the online event where Microsoft will finally unveil what they have been working on and what the Future of SharePoint is.
** Our video transcripts are generated automatically. So, while we meticulously review them, some typos fall through the cracks. Please excuse any errors, and feel free to let us know if any pop up. **
Ben:Thanks everyone for joining. And Bill, I’ll let you introduce yourself and let us know about SharePoint 2016 then.
Bill: Thanks Ben, and a special thanks to Sharegate for providing the opportunity for us to share the story around SharePoint Server 2016. Today we’ll take a lap around the product and talk a little bit about some of the development principles that we have thought about as we build SharePoint Server 2016. As always, I’m Bill Baer. I’m a product manager here at our SharePoint product group. My core areas of focus are our server releases, our hybrid, and our migration story.
So today is all about SharePoint Server 2016, and SharePoint Server 2016 is actually the culmination of a number of different milestones that we celebrated this month here in March. Early in March, we actually celebrated the 15th birthday of SharePoint, beginning with SharePoint Portal Server 2001. That affectionate release, which was the genesis block of all future versions of SharePoint. And then on March 14th, we celebrated the RTM, or for those unfamiliar, Release To Manufacturing of SharePoint Server 2016. And at the same time, we also offered the opportunity for our enthusiasts, our partners, and our customers to attend our virtual future of SharePoint event, which will occur on May 5th. And at the end of the presentation, I have a link to that event if you’d like to register today near term, you can visit http://aka.ms/SPLaunch. So it’s going to be a great opportunity to see the direction that we’ll be taking with SharePoint and our vision and strategy as we move forward. So…
Ben: I don’t mean to chime in, I’ll interrupt you because I don’t even know if I’m supposed to say this, so worst case, I’ll get probably a slap on the hands afterwards, but we’ve seen some of the things that are coming, and I think if you are wondering what’s going on with SharePoint, obviously we’re going to be seeing a lot with SharePoint 2016 today, but you definitely won’t want to miss that May 4th or May 5th event where Bill will page because very, very, very exciting things coming for SharePoint. I’ll let you get back to it, of course.
Bill: Yeah, no problem, thanks. And indeed, you’re absolutely correct, on May 4th we’ve got a lot of exciting news to share and to show. So I definitely encourage as many of you to attend that virtual launch event as possible. So with that said, let’s just go ahead and dive right in.
So when we developed SharePoint Server 2016, we really focused on three fundamental development principles for what we would call value fillers internally. And those value fillers are representative of investments in infrastructure, investments in compliance, and investments in overall experiences.
So on the infrastructure side, what we really wanted to do was accrue as much knowledge as we’ve been able to gain from a SharePoint perspective back to our customers on premises. And a great way to think about some of these infrastructure investments is if you look over the course of SharePoint’s history, we’ve always built an on premises product that we’ve brought to the Cloud, which has facilitated SharePoint Online. So great examples of which is in 2004 and 2005, we launched a service that we called Microsoft Managed Solutions. It was a hosted SharePoint service that was built on SharePoint Portal Server 2003.
And then through the 2007 and 2010 releases, many of you may be familiar with our Business Productivity Online Services, or our BPOS offer in Office 365. But our on premises release is really what defined what our Cloud offer looked like. And then we launched Office 365, and in parallel to that launch, we also shipped SharePoint Server 2013, which became the foundation for SharePoint Online and Office 365. But from a historical perspective, we’ve always looked to our on prem product to define what our Cloud offering looks like.
With SharePoint Server 2016, we took a fundamentally different approach, which means we converged our SharePoint code bases. So SharePoint Server 2016 is actually delivered out of our SharePoint Online code branch. And what that means is now we have a converged and unified code branch, which means SharePoint Server 2016 is the most comprehensively tested version of SharePoint we’ve delivered to date because it was born in the Cloud. And we drew from that experience to deliver the product on premises, accruing all of our experience back to our customers on premises.
Similarly on the experiences side, or that particular investment pillar, we’ve also been able to take that same knowledge that drive a lot of the infrastructure investments and make those available from a user experience perspective. A couple of examples of which is in the Cloud, we have the opportunity to collect a lot of telemetry as to how our products are being used. And we can respond by looking at features that may be working well and features that may not be working well. Features that resonate with users and perhaps there’s features that don’t resonate as well with users. So through that educational experience, that telemetry experience, we’re able to bring innovation from SharePoint Online back to our server release.
A couple of great examples of which is we delivered an intuitive web UX, Touch Web UX, for browsing across multiple devices and screens. We’ve delivered a simple control surface. Those are the options that you see right above document libraries. That simple control surface abstracts the complexity of the ribbon, and we’ve been able to find that more users engage in collaborative experiences when they have that simple control surface available to them within document libraries. Simple sharing is another indication of bringing that experience back to our on prem customers, so we simplified the sharing experience in SharePoint Online and Office 365. And we were able to accrue that back to our customers as well in the experiences side, so that idea of converging code bases allowed us to take a lot of the technical components of SharePoint from an infrastructure perspective and bring those back to our customers, but also the experiences as well at the same time.
And then the area of investment that we made was on the compliance side. So really, this was all about new features and capabilities that drive greater access controls and help you secure information. What makes SharePoint Server 2016 different than its predecessors is in the past you may be familiar with the SharePoint release that encompassed a number of different scenarios, whether that’s social, or business intelligence, or even composites and insights. And what we’ve been able to do with SharePoint Server 2016 is really focus on the fundamentals of what SharePoint has always done well, which is intranet portals and core collaboration. So if you think about what SharePoint Server 2016 is and where that value resides, that Cloud inspired infrastructure, those infrastructure investments, deliver a reliable Cloud accelerated experience to your data center, while at the same time on the experiences and compliance side, we’ve been able to deliver well-known features that we know resonate with users as well as a set of security protocols, data loss prevention, and compliance policies that help you keep your data secure.
Now let’s dive into each one of these pillars in a little bit more detail starting with that Cloud inspired infrastructure component, and talk a little bit about performance and scale, some of our boundaries and limits, as well as some deployment flexibility options that you have with SharePoint Server 2016. On the Cloud inspired infrastructure side, we focused on three subareas of investment. So if you think about those three core buckets, think of those as umbrellas. Infrastructure, experiences, and compliance. And within those buckets, or underneath those umbrellas, there are subareas of investment. On the Cloud inspired infrastructure side, it’s deployment flexibility, it’s boundaries and limits, and it’s performance and scale, the three core principles that drove investment within that particular umbrella.
On the performance and scale side, we took the best of what we did with SharePoint Server 2013 as well as what we’re able to accrue from innovation in Office 365, and pull together those two components to round out that particular release. So for example, on the boundaries and limits side, our search experience get a two times increase in the number of items that can indexed per search service application. So the old boundary and limit that you experienced with SharePoint 2013 was in the 250 million item range, and we’ve extended that boundary to 500 million items with SharePoint Server 2016. We’ve also made a substantial increase in the number of site collections and sites that can be hosted within a given web application. And we’ve extended the scalability of content databases into the terabyte range that we had in the past with earlier versions of SharePoint.
All of these investments allow you to scale more vertically as opposed to horizontally. So we heard our customers loud and clear through user voice and customer feedback channels that one of the key challenges with SharePoint was always the need for horizontal scale, which induced sprawl. And it made difficult high availability scenarios and disaster recovery scenarios, as well as being able to deterministically load and scale test your environments. So really through these investments, we’ve been able to improve the vertical scale aspect of SharePoint to where you don’t need to scale as much horizontally anymore, which provides greater operational efficiency as you manage these environments.
And then, of course, we introduced a higher list view threshold. One of the core areas of feedback we found on user voice is that a number of customers have struggled with the list view threshold that was introduced in SharePoint Server 2013. So we made a number of investments starting with removing the aspect of lock escalation within SQL Server, so when you reached that 5,000 item limit in prior versions of SharePoint, you would have row locks that would ultimately escalate into table locks, thereby blocking all access to any other sites within that particular content database until an operation has been completed against that large list. We’ve removed that characteristic.
In addition to that, we’ve also built in some programmatic aspects as well. So from a user experience perspective, users in many cases aren’t familiar with SQL structure and schema. They don’t understand what induces lock escalation and they don’t understand the concept of adding indices to given columns and row within a SharePoint list. And if you think about what SharePoint lists represent, effectively it’s an abstraction layer to SQL Server. When you’re creating a list, you’re creating a table. And from a proper SQL Server management perspective, you want those tables to have indexes. And that’s exactly what adding an indices is within a SharePoint list. Programmatically what we’ve done is we’ve created a timer job that allows the programmatic management of large lists. And the way that the timer job works is it looks for lists that are reaching that list view threshold, or that boundary, and then it programmatically optimizes that list by adding an index to appropriate columns. It requires no user intervention because it’s all driven by a timer job operation, so it’s more of a preemptive engagement to preventing issues that occur with large lists and mitigating those programmatically as opposed to reactively as you had to do in the past with SharePoint.
On the deployment flexibility side, we’ve added a number of new options to help drive greater efficiencies around the deployment characteristics of SharePoint. A great example of which is one of the first investments that we’ve made is indicative of how we scale SharePoint in Office 365. And through that is our investment in MinRole. So one of the key investments we’ve made from a MinRole perspective is that we’ve taken SharePoint from being a role agnostic server installation to being a role based server installation. In the past, the only thing that determined what a SharePoint’s given role was within a given topology is its placement in the topology or the given roles that you’ve assigned to that particular server, driven largely by documentation that you would have found on TechNet.
With MinRole, we’ve introduced a way that you can scale more programmatically and we’ve accrued all of that TechNet documentation into the code itself. So you now have a role based installation scenario to where you can select a set of predefined out of the box server roles, such as a web front end, an application server, a cache server, a search server, and a custom role. And these roles allow you to create a topology that’s been code optimized for each given role, which means the web front end has been optimized for high performance. The application server role has been optimized for high throughput. So we’ve been able to optimize the code paths and provide a more predictive methodology to your scaling experience.
In addition to that, MinRole also provides a set of out of the box compliance reports. And those compliance reports will notify an administrator when a server falls outside of its specified role, which means a web front end has a preset set of services that get installed on it when you select that given role. And MinRole will notify the administrator if any service violates that characteristic of that particular role.
And then the custom role still facilitates the ability to leverage a role agnostic installation option. So for customers who like greater control over their SharePoint topologies, you can leverage the custom role. The custom role, of course, is a tradeoff between having the compliance tooling and performance optimizations being built into the server for the sake of being able to scale it as you would of SharePoint Server 2013.
And then we’ve also introduced zero downtime patching. So for customers who have highly available environments, you can now patch without incurring downtime. The reason for that is because we’ve rewritten all of our upgraders to be online operations, which mean when you run PSConfig after installing an update, you don’t incur the downtime that you used to incur. So now you can truly deliver that three nines experience with SharePoint Server 2016. And aligning to those same investments, we’ve also minimized the footprint of our patches as well. If you think about what an update was composed of in earlier versions of SharePoint, we would deliver a cumulative update that was measured in gigabytes, relatively the same size as the product that was being applied to. With SharePoint Server 2016, we’ve minimized the scope of an update, which means there’s fewer patches that are involved in a given update, and those patches have been optimized to be online operations. So now you can truly experience a zero downtime patching experience with SharePoint Server 2016.
Now let’s move into the reliability bucket. So on the reliable side, we focused on a number of different investments starting with our innovation and Project Server all the way down into the core infrastructure components, which include both Windows and SQL Server. Project Server is now a native integrated component of SharePoint Server 2016. It’s in fact built into the installer. So no longer do you install Project Server separately on a separate set of servers and then establish bindings to SharePoint Server 2016. That work has been configured for you because Project Server is just a native experience inside of SharePoint Server 2016, which means it gets installed when you run the SharePoint Server 2016 installation. You still have to license Project Server for use in your organization as you would have in the past, but we’ve natively embedded the server into the product. If you think about the way that we manage social in the past, our idea was to enable you to cultivate content and conversations within the same core product experience. Project Server now is integrated into SharePoint so you can cultivate the aspects of project and portfolio management with the content that associated with it in one native integrated scenario.
We also enable you to take advantage of Windows Server 2016 and the new features that it delivers, from virtualization management all the way down to storage concepts, such as REFS, and some of the networking aspects and innovations you’ll find in the WinServer product. On the SQL Server side, you can leverage the enhanced AlwaysOn availability groups that delivered through SQL Server 2016 with SharePoint Server 2016 as well, in addition to its BI capabilities that it delivers natively out of the box.
Now we’re going to dive a little bit into what we talk about when we call this one component Cloud Accelerated innovation. We’ll talk about OneDrive for Business, the Office Graph and Office Delve. We’ll talk about Team Sites as well as Operational Insights that are available as part of a hybrid experience through SharePoint Server 2016.
So for OneDrive for Business, we’ve continued to innovate on our hybrid scenarios with OneDrive for Business, but we’re providing you a best of both worlds approach, which means you can maximize ROI on your existing investments while taking advantage of innovation in Office 365, particularly around OneDrive for Business. The OneDrive for Business scenario is a selective redirect scenario, which means if you are in a highly regulated vertical, such as life sciences, and you have researchers that deal with highly sensitive data that are confined to a single location, but you also have a remote sales contingent that doesn’t have a fixed office that needs data mobility, you can selectively redirect a user’s OneDrive for storage to facilitate that scenario. In being that SharePoint Server 2016 allows you to establish an audience for OneDrive for Business. That audience can be redirected to Office 365 for data mobility and your researchers can remain on prem with OneDrive for Business to facilitate that data sovereignty and that data sensitivity need. So really it’s a best of both world approach. It’s enabling data mobility for those who need it with OneDrive for Business and Office 365, while enabling OneDrive for Business on prem for those highly regulated scenarios. So you get an option to leverage both sets of technology across both on premises as well as Office 365, while still delivering a seamless user experience across both of those as well.
And those same principles apply in the space of search. So on March 14th, we also announced general availability of our Cloud search service application, or Cloud Hybrid Search. And effectively what Cloud Hybrid Search does is it unifies your indexed metadata into the Office 365 index, which means as you crawl your data on premises, the metadata associated with that crawl that would traditionally be stored in your on premises search index, is actually stored and unified in your Office 365 search index. That means when users execute a query, they’re returned a monolithic results set, or a single entity, so they can apply deep refinement characteristics to it, and they can also specify deep queries into that content and rationalize that data as a single entity.
In the past, our hybrid search experience was based on federated search, where you executed one query but that query was federated to two locations. And ultimately, you’re returned two result sets that couldn’t be refined together because there was no affinity between those two result sets. Now it’s a single result set. It’s a single entity that you can leverage. And the benefit of the Cloud Hybrid Search experience is it also enables you to take advantage of newer Office 365 innovation in respect to intelligence, and machine learning, and predictive analytics. By that, the Office Graph and Office Delve. Those experiences are now applicable to your on premises content as well with Cloud Hybrid Search. Because the index has been unified, the Office Graph can take advantage of that index metadata. And subsequently, the Office Delve experience will enable you to deliver contextually relevant results back to your users because of that integration with the Office Graph. And in addition to that, you can now also take advantage of experiences on mobile devices. We shipped an Office Delve app across multiple platforms. But that Office Delve app was limited to use with Office 365. But now if you enable yourself for a Cloud Hybrid Search experience, you can take advantage of that Office Delve application on mobile devices and have it be inclusive of your on premises data. So it really opens up the benefit of leveraging applications that we designed for Office 365 for your on premises users.
We also delivered a new Team Sites hybrid experience. So it’s a connected experience that enables aggregation of your team site gestures across both Office 365 as well as SharePoint Online, and we’ll demonstrate some of these in a moment so you can have a better look at what those are. We’ve also recently started talking about one of our newer hybrid experiences that we’ll be enabling for our customers, which is more of an IT administrative hybrid experience. To date, our hybrid experiences have largely been targeted at our information workers, or at the users of the platform itself. But we understand IT has needs as well, and we’re working on an IT hybrid experience that enables you to submit your anonymous activity and usage data to Office 365, and then rationalize that data via the Office 365 Protection Center, which means you can submit your anonymous auditing activity to Office 365 and then use the auditing and recovery options of the Office 365 Protection Center to rationalize and work with that data. So you can be provided with advanced insights against your on premises content, such as who created a sharing link? Did they retract that sharing link? Who accessed a given document? At what point did they authenticate?
So think of the Office 365 Protection Center as being a dashboard that exposes the audit logs that you used to have to work through an Excel workbook to try to rationalize in Notepad in the past. So it really delivers a graphical user interface to rationalize your auditing activity on premises. And then in addition, you can take advantage of the Office 365 Management API, the Management Activity API, to deliver your own custom solutions against that same set of data.
So let’s go ahead and take a look at some of these Cloud Hybrid, or Cloud Accelerated experiences that I just talked about. So first we’re going to go ahead and take a look at a demonstration of some of the hybrid experiences. So as you can see here, I’m in SharePoint Server 2016. A couple areas to point out that would be new for those that haven’t 2016 is when I talked about some of our experiences, I talked about that simple control surface that really abstracts the complexity of the ribbon in document libraries. And you can see that here on the screen. So directly above the documents within the document’s document library, you can see that simple control surface. And that simple control surface has a number of options associated with it. I can create new files and folders, I can quickly upload content, share content, I have additional management options via the dropdown menu, and I can quickly sync and content that I’d like to sync within a given document library.
You’ll also notice on the top left of the page, we’ve introduced the app launcher that you may be familiar with from Office 365. So in Office 365, the way that you would leverage different scenarios in the service is by virtue of the app launcher. Similarly in SharePoint Server 2016, we wanted to deliver as seamless global navigation experience that integrated with Office 365. So by selecting the app launcher, I have a list of options available to me. That is inclusive of both application on premises as well as applications in Office 365. So as you can see, I have Video, and Delve, and Yammer, all indicative of Office 365 experiences. And I also have OneDrive in sites, indicative of experiences that representative of on premises applications. The app launcher itself is extensible as well to the extent that you can build custom tiles in Office 365 through the administration center and have those be exposed via your on premises app launcher as well.
In this case, we’re going to take a look at the site’s hybrid experience. So by selecting the Sites hybrid experience, you can see that I’m redirected to Office 365. And within Office 365 I have visibility into gestures across both sites on premises as well as sites in the Cloud. So as you can see, I have my Contoso Intranet site on premises that I’m following in addition to my SharePoint Online site in Office 365 that I’m following. I also have recent site activity that’s inclusive of site activity on premises as well as in Office 365. But I also gain the benefit of intelligence. So the recommended sites option in Office 365 is driven machine learning and analytics through the Office Graph. So I now have that predictive analytics and machine learning intelligence applied to my content across both on prem and online. So I get intelligent recommendations based on those aspects of Office 365 via the hybrid sites experience.
The hybrid sites experience is also further enriched by our new Cloud Hybrid Search experience. So for example, I can search for a term such as marketing, and then I can execute the marketing query, and I have a result set that inclusive of both content across both on prem and Office 365. So as you can see here, the marketing search results include content from Contoso.com, as well as Contoso.com marketing, which are my intranet portals on premises, but I also have content that’s stored in OneDrive for Business and Office 365. That is indicative here, or visible here, through the Asia Q3 Marketing Overview document. So as you can see, it’s a single result set that I’m able to execute a single search query to return results from. I can now modify, and rationalize, and refine that data, again, as a single entity, as opposed to the federated query model.
From here, I also talked about how the search experience lends itself to machine learning. So coming back to the app launcher in Office 365, I can navigate to Delve. Within Delve, I can execute the same marketing query, and through that, I can actually return contextually relevant results based on content stored both on premises as well as in Office 365. So here if we look at the first two sets of results, I have my intranet portal result, Contoso Intranet, in addition to the document that I just showed you that’s stored in OneDrive for Business, the Asia Q3 Marketing Overview document. So now I have the power of delivering contextually relevant results based on analytics and machine learning back to my users through the hybrid experience. And as I said earlier, you can also now take advantage of mobile applications on premises against that same set of data by virtue of configuring it for hybrid.
So coming back to the center of gravity, which is our app launcher, I can move into the app launcher again and navigate into OneDrive for Business. So here I am in OneDrive for Business. And again, this is a selective redirect scenario, meaning that I can choose which users are redirected to Office 365 for OneDrive for Business. Some may be more appropriate for on premises storage, others may be more appropriate for Cloud storage. So I can selectively determine who gets which storage mechanism via Office 365 or even on premises. So as you can see, I now have the new OneDrive experience as a benefit as well.
So that was a quick tour of what the hybrid experiences look like in SharePoint Server 2016. Now we can talk about some of those investments that align to that intuitive pillar of value that we delivered in SharePoint Server 2016. So on the intuitive side, we’ve made a number of different options available to our customers to drive greater insights and the ability to manipulate data more efficiently. So from a digital media perspective, in the past SharePoint was designed in a world that was largely based on the concept of documents. Documents were the preferred mechanism for the dissemination of information within an organization. And market trends have changed and technology has changed. And one of the things we’ve seen is more and more people are using digital media to disseminate knowledge within an organization, whether that’s through images or video, or even audio files. So one of the first things that we did was we increased the file support for the size of a file that can be stored in SharePoint Server 2016. SharePoint has been defined by a two gigabyte storage boundary as related to the maximum size of a file that you could upload. The key change that we made is we increased that limit to 10 gigabytes inside of SharePoint Server 2016, enabling you to take that digital media and bring it to SharePoint. And subsequently, the other investment that we made is now you need to be able to use that media as if it were text based media as in the past, such as a document or a PowerPoint presentation, which means in a document library if you upload a video or an image, you could actually preview that inline within the context of a document library now in SharePoint 2016.
Again, the simple control surface is another area of innovation we were able to accrue back from the Cloud, but we’ve also introduced the concept of site folders and site pinning. So if you’re using OneDrive for Business on premises in SharePoint Server 2016, your followed sites are actually shown inside of your OneDrive for Business web UX. So if you follow a site, you can effectively pin that site to your site folder menu in OneDrive for Business. And that enables quick access into the content within that particular site. It’s an abstraction layer into a document library.
We’ve also introduced fast site creation, so the speed at which sites can be provisioned. It’s much faster in SharePoint Server 2016, particularly in a OneDrive for Business scenario. We’ve introduced simple sharing in a new mobile touch web UX. We’ve also introduced durable links. Durable links is a great concept that enables links to become resilient in the effect that in the extent that where content is renamed or moved, the link that you originally associated with that particular document remains valid. That’s empowered through integration with Office Online Server.
We’ve also introduced a better search experience through the extent of scale. And then we’ve also introduced new developer experiences, so we continue to support full trust code. We continue to support our add-in model, but in addition, we also added for example in our beta release, we introduced the files API that you’re familiar with in Office 365 in preview form into that particular release.
So let’s talk a little bit about some of the work that we’re doing on the security side. So we’ve talked through the first two value pillars, really talking about some of the experiences and some of the Cloud inspired infrastructure aspects of SharePoint Server 2016. And now what I’d like to do is take a little lap around the security aspect, or that compliance aspect that we talked about. And it’s really establishing a fine balance between enabling collaboration, while at the same time enabling security around the content that revolves around the collaborative experience. And that’s what we call people-centric compliance.
So some of the investments we made on that side is around data loss prevention, a new concept we call classification IDs, policy templates, as well as document fingerprinting and encryption. So I’m going to go ahead and demonstrate some of these concepts to familiarize those that haven’t seen them before with how those work in the context of SharePoint Server 2016.
So here we are in the Compliance Policy Center. This is new to SharePoint Server 2016. One of the new things that we’ve been able to do is introduce a centralized facility through which you would apply compliance policies in SharePoint Server 2016. In the past, we had a document center. We also had an EDiscovery center. And those were two distinct facilities through which you would perform EDiscovery or document management. Now in SharePoint Server 2016, we’ve unified those into a single Compliance Policy Center, which means all of the compliance policies that you’d like to associate with your content stored in SharePoint can now be manipulated universally across your SharePoint farm. The Compliance Policy Center enabled insights into document deletion policies, as well as data loss prevention policies, in addition to in place hold policies.
Deletion policies effectively allow you to create and manage deletion policies that you can use to delete documents after a specified period of time. So in a highly regulated scenario, to where I only want to retain data for a specific amount of time, I can effectively create independent policies associated with specific types of content and programmatically have that content deleted from my environment based on a schedule, based on that document’s created date, its modified date, plus any given number of days. And I can apply those policies very discreetly to individual site collections. So it’s not a universal policy unless I want it to be. So I may want to treat some site collections differently than others based on their content types or based on the information they contain, or even their use case scenario. So I’m able to create a specific document deletion policy and apply it to a very distinct site collection.
The same applied to OneDrive for Business. If I want to handle OneDrive storage in a different way than I handle SharePoint team sites, I could create yet a separate policy to address those particular scenarios. I can similarly create an in place hold policy as well. So perhaps I don’t want to delete the content, but I don’t want to enable further modification of that content. That’s an exceptional use case scenario for litigation holds. If I’m under a litigation hold, I can actually create these in place hold policies. So instead of trying to aggregate, locate, and then isolate content that I need to establish for a litigation hold, I can actually hold that content in place and I can apply those policies again universally or I can be very discrete, and then I can apply them to discreet libraries or discreet SharePoint team sites, or even OneDrive for Business. So I can take a similar approach with deletion policies as I can in place hold policies, and I can manage all of those through a centralized facility.
And then probably one of the more interesting and compelling aspects is we deliver new data loss prevention policies. And what data loss prevention policies do is just like deletion policies, and just like in place hold policies, I can actually take advantage of creating policies specific to data loss prevention scenarios. And that’s what I’d like to show you here through this particular demonstration. So what we’re going to do through the Compliance Policy Center is we’re just going to select data loss prevention policy management, or DLP policy management.
As you can see here, I have a centralized facility through which I can create those policies. It’s just like creating a new list item. So I’ll choose new item and I’ll apply a name for my policy. In this particular case, I’m going to call it Contoso GLBA. And the reason for that is because what I’m going to create today is a Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act policy. So I’m going to go ahead and select that policy, and as you can see through selecting it, it gives me an indication of what this policy applies to. So in this particular case, it help me detect the presence of information that’s subject to GLBA, which includes Social Security number, and credit card numbers, in addition to US bank account numbers, individual tax payer identification numbers, and Social Security numbers. Furthermore, I can actually establish a trigger. At what point do I want this policy to trigger? Perhaps I want it only to be triggered if there’s nine instances of offending information within a given document. So I can establish a boundary through which triggers my policy.
I can then alternatively send incident reports. So in this particular case, if there is a violation of policy, how do I want to address that? I want to address that proactively in my particular environment. So in the event a policy violation occurs, I want to send an email to my compliance manager at Contoso. I can also notify my user’s via Policy Tips. If you’re familiar with Outlook on the desktop, you’re probably familiar with Policy Tips. Policy Tips apprises you of when sensitive information is being created within an email exchange or within content itself. So this is new to SharePoint as well. So I’m going to notify my users in the event that they save or edit content that has sensitive information that’s in violation of this particular policy. Scrolling down, I can actually block access to the content if I’d like to. And some organizations users deal with sensitive information. And there may be a necessity to store that information in SharePoint. So what I can do through this policy is I can block access to the information. However, for people who own the content or have last modified the content, I can actually enable them to override the policy, so they can continue to work and collaborate against it. That’s the concept around people-centric compliance. Balancing the need for security with the need to enable your users to collaborate.
So I number of different options I can leverage within SharePoint to facilitate those needs. So we’re going to go ahead and save our policy real quick. So let’s just save this policy, and now as you can see within the DLP Prevention Policy Center, I have my new policy created. The next step is assigning this policy. So I’m going to go to policy assignment. As you can see, this new policy has been created, but it doesn’t have affinity to any give site collection in SharePoint at this particular point in time. So I’m going to go ahead and choose a site collection. In this case, we’re going to execute a search query. So a lot of these things are search driven. So I’m going to go ahead and type Contoso.com and search. And as you can see here, I have a number of options available to me. Contoso Intranet, Research, Policy Center, In Place Hold Center and eDiscovery. I’m going to go ahead and choose my Intranet site. And I’ll save that, and now I can manage those site policies.
So what policy do I want to assign to this particular site collection? In my case, it’s the only policy I have available. We’ll select it and save it. We’ll save the policy assignment, and now let’s have a look at the user experience.
So what we do from DLP perspective is all search driven. It all takes a dependency on your search index. The reason is is because the way a sensitive information type works in SharePoint Server 2016 is it’s driven by the context indexed metadata, which means that the search that discovers the information and policy subsequently is applied to the information based on search discovery. So in my particular case, a search will execute and then it will discover content that meets these criteria. This is all driven by a concept we call the sensitive information type. A sensitive information type is effectively a way of abstracting a complex query away from you. And you can leverage those inside of SharePoint Server 2016 eDiscovery scenarios. Think of a DLP policy template as an abstraction layer to those sensitive information types. So if you want to use them more granularly, you can use those in the context of eDiscovery. If you’d like to use those out of the box in more of a GUI driven approach, you can use those through policy management. And what a sensitive information type is, is it’s effectively a proximity scan combined with pattern matching driven through regular expressions. And that enables the discovery of information that is in violation of that particular sensitive information type.
Now DLP policies, on the other hand, you can actually extend those as well. So you’re not just limited to the scope of the out of the box policies we deliver. You can actually take advantage of those through a simple XML schema. So if you wanted to create, and define, and upload your own policy, you can do that with SharePoint Server 2016.
So this is the end user experience in my DLP policy scenario. As you can see here in my document library, again, simple controls at the top of the document library. And then as traditional, I have content stored in that library. You’ll notice though the icon related to these last two documents changed. No longer is it an Excel document and a Word document. Now I have a warning indicator next to the document itself. That warning indicator indicates that this content contains sensitive information in violation of the policy that I’ve applied to my environment. So I can click on Clinical Trials. As a user, I might be curious as to why I can’t access this particular piece of content. That’s where Policy Tips come in to drive the people-centric compliance approach. So I can click on the Policy Tip and it actually tells me what the issue is with that particular piece of content. In this particular case, that content contains US Social Security number information, which is why it’s been blocked for access. Now if I discover information in my environment that I feel is violation of policy that hasn’t yet been picked up by search, and the policy itself applied, I can actually report the item to the compliance administrator that I have specified in the policy creation and policy assignment steps that you saw a moment ago. And as you can see, here is the indicator as related to the policy I created. So in my case, I decided to allow access to the item for the owner and the last modifier, as well as the site owner.
So as the site owner, I can actually resolve the violation itself. So if I need access to the content as the site owner because I have a need to store sensitive information, I can override the policy because when I created it, I enabled it to do so.
So to wrap up some of the things that we looked at and allow sufficient time to be able to get to the Q&A because I have noticed that some questions are coming through, the way to think about SharePoint Server 2016 is one, it’s that comprehensive solution for connected information. And by that what we mean is it’s people-centric compliance, it’s your ability to integrate natively and seamlessly with Office 365 experiences, and it’s the ability to deliver security solutions that don’t impede collaboration, but instead promote collaboration. It’s also been optimized for the way that work based on our experience running SharePoint at scale as a component of Office 365 through SharePoint Online. And it’s going to meet the needs of the evolving business as well. SharePoint Server 2016 is going to be a foundation for the future, and it’s really the first step in a broader SharePoint journey as we carry forward with our vision and strategy.
With that said, to learn more about that vision and strategy, and SharePoint Server 2016’s relationship to how we’re going to bring SharePoint forward into the future, I definitely again encourage you to register for our SharePoint virtual launch event. It’s going to occur on May 4th of 2016. So we’re just a few short weeks away from that event. There’s a lot of exciting information that we’ll be sharing throughout that event, so I definitely encourage our enthusiasts, our partners, and our customers to attend that event. There’s a link here on the screen that you can take advantage of, which is http://aka.ms/SPLaunch. Definitely go out and register for the free event and watch that online coming May 4th. And then think about SharePoint’s relationship to how we move forward with SharePoint. You’ve already seen some evolutionary steps and really deriving a lot of its capability from our experience in Office 365 and delivering greater hooks into Cloud services, whether that’s through Azure, through our virtual machine templates that you can find in the marketplace, all the way down to the hybrid innovation that we’re going to be delivering now and in the future as we move forward with that release.
So learn about 2016, you can always visit our sharepoint.microsoft.com team site. You can visit our root node, our TechNet documentation center to explore SharePoint Server 2016 from a technical or implementation based perspective. And then we have some additional IT pro documentation that’s more designed for implementing specific services related to SharePoint Server 2016. So events… yeah.
Ben: Thank you very, very much for that. Wow, I think it’s the first time for me to have so many live, you have a couple thousand live attendees asking questions. So I want to thank everyone that’s been asking questions. I took a lot of questions and notes. I want everyone to know that I’m going to go through every single question. If I don’t have the answer, I’m going to bug Bill or I’m going to Bob…I want to thank Bob Fox actually for helping answer many of these questions. I want to tell everyone that I am going to take notes. I’m going to try to answer as many as possible, and I will put them in the blog post afterwards, so look for that when that will be released. The recording of this webinar will be available a lot sooner than me going through all of these questions.
So Bill, a couple of question that I took note that maybe we can go through those first because the Q&A is very difficult for you to go through in front of everyone right now. So I have a couple of questions. I think the one I’m going to ask right away because it’s been on a lot of people’s mind, and I get that as well in conferences. So if we’re not looking into these improvements necessarily for the performance or the legal aspect with the compliance stuff, is it worth someone to migrate to SharePoint 2016? Should they, there’s an event call The Future of SharePoint that’s coming, and yet SharePoint 2016 is here, what would you tell someone that’s looking at all of this like this, right now they’re on 2013 of or they’re on 2010?
Bill: Yeah, I think if you’re on 2010, there’s probably more justification to move forward than in any other particular scenario. And the reason I say that is the justification is that thing called support life cycle, which is really why you need to start thinking about if you’re a SharePoint customer, bringing your SharePoint investments forward per the support life cycle. So you probably have more of a pressing need if you’re a SharePoint 2010 customer to come forward.
Also a lot of the key investments that you’ve seen today are based on the premises of SharePoint Server 2016 as well. Now on the hybrid side, we do as much as possible to back port those to SharePoint Server 2013. So again, if you’re a SharePoint 2010 customer, it enables you to, one, respond to the window of your support life cycle by really modernizing your infrastructure and bringing it forward into a more long term supported state. But beyond that, it also enables you to take advantage of innovation that didn’t exist in 2010 that we didn’t deliver until 2013. So a lot of capability in 2013. So if you thought about it a little more holistically, and you’re on SharePoint Server 2010, you can find a wealth of reasons to be on 2013. And if you can find a reason to be on 2013, there is definitive reason to be on 2016. And let me explain a little bit what that really means.
If you think about the life cycle of 2016, and you think about the life cycle of SharePoint Online, SharePoint Online established the foundation for… SharePoint 2013 established the foundation of what is SharePoint Online. Subsequently, SharePoint Online became a foundation of SharePoint Server 2016. So there’s a common heritage or a common genesis block, which is SharePoint Server 2013. So if there’s value in 2013 for you, there’s definitive value in 2016, because 2016 is indicative of all the greatness of 2013, as well as the greatness of SharePoint Online. So it’s really that two birds with one stone approach.
And from a migration perspective, obviously if you want to move to 2016 from 2010, you’re thinking more along the lines probably of migration as opposed to upgrade, because it’s going to be a double hop upgrade. We don’t support the N minus two scenario, meaning you can’t upgrade directly. You’d have to make a pit stop at 2013. And my recommendation depending on the complexity with 2010, I would definitely look at it through the lens of migration as opposed to the lens of upgrade.
Ben: And while we’re on the migration, just going to sneak in another question while you continue. There was a question that if you migrate from 2010 to 2013, you have the 2010 mode available so you can have sites still running in 2010. Is that available in 2016, having sites running in 2013 mode?
Bill: Yeah and that’s interesting because we don’t support the same concept of what we call deferred site collection upgrade. So for those unfamiliar, deferred site collection upgrade enabled you to run your SharePoint sites in a backward compatible mode with 2010. So if you’re on 2013, you could effectively deliver a 2010 user experience. 2016 doesn’t have a concept called deferred site collection upgrade. What it does have is it allows you to defer the upgrade of sites. So we have three upgrade approaches with SharePoint 2016 from 2013. You can attach your content databases and have the databases and the sites upgrade concurrently. That’s the default experience.
Alternatively, you can attach your content databases and defer the upgrade of the site collections themselves until a later date. And the difference between deferred site collection upgrade and this approach is deferred site collection upgrade allowed you to create backward compatible sites, whereas 2016 doesn’t allow you to create a supported backward compatible site. But it does allow you to retain your sites in a 2013 until you selectively upgrade them to 2016.
The third upgrade approach is one of my favorites. It’s called first run upgrade, or first browse upgrade, which means you can attach the databases to 2016 from 2013, have the content database itself upgrade, but then trigger the actual site upgrade when a user visits the site. And that’s an approach that we take in Office 365. So if you think about Office 365, it’s effectively been running SharePoint 2016 for some time now. And it started with SharePoint 2013. And how did we get to the point to where the sites became 2016? Well it happened relatively transparently because we leveraged that first browse upgrade experience, which means the user visited the site, and upon visitation, the upgrade itself was triggered.
And the reason we’re able to do that is because that common genesis block of SharePoint 2013, they all share a very similar family in respect to code. And those similarities mitigate a lot of the issues that existed with upgrade in the past. So there’s a lot of great opportunity there to come forward.
Ben: Perfect, and I do for that question about is it worth migrating? I think we’re in a tricky period of time, and if you’re wondering whether you should to go SharePoint 2016, I’d say definitely go and attend that live event, The Future of SharePoint, which is a couple of weeks, because I think it will definitely help you grasp a lot more of what’s going on with SharePoint. So definitely, I think there’s great, great value in going to SharePoint 2016, and you may not know everything, because not everything has been shared at the moment. So since we don’t have that much more time, I’ll just…there’s been a lot of questions about workflows as well. What’s going on? Is there’s a new type of workflow engine? Can we continue doing our SharePoint 2010 engine workflows? What’s going with the workflow story? I tried to talk. There was a lot of InfoPath, so I’ll spare you that. I’ll try to talk about PowerApps a little bit as well.
Bill: Yeah, so on the workflow side, and I’m glad you’ve been able to address some of the questions around workflow, particularly in the space of PowerApps and some of the newer technology that we’ve delivered via the Cloud, some of which you may have seen if you’ve been watching some of the build sessions that have occurred, and that are occurring this week. But on the workflow side and on the forms side, one of the decisions we made with SharePoint Server 2016 was to carry forward InfoPath forms services as well as extend support for the InfoPath 2013 client to align to the life cycle of SharePoint Server 2016, which means you can leverage that same InfoPath client and leverage it against SharePoint Server 2016.
You can still use Workflow Manager and Workflow Foundation, so those concepts are still supported in 2016, and obviously, we’re introducing new scenarios in the Cloud, and we’re thinking about how we can enable you to take advantage of concepts such as PowerApps against your SharePoint on premises installation. So those are things that we’re thinking hard and long about as we deliver this new innovation in the Cloud. As much as possible, we want to enable our customers to take advantage. We’ve taken that approach through hybrid. We think about some of the new apps and services in a very similar way.
And one question that I did want to get to is from Kurt Mackey down at the bottom of what I can see. It’s related to how the hybrid search functionality works. And without diving deep into the architecture in the interest of time, effectively the Cloud hybrid search experience is based on SharePoint’s traditional fast search experience, meaning the only key difference is we add a managed property to the content. And that managed property is called is external content. It’s a Boolean value, and that Boolean value is either true or false, one or zero. When you implement Cloud hybrid search, you create it just like you would any on premises search service application. You just specify the Cloud hybrid search parameter. By doing so, we add that is external content managed property to your documents, we set its value to true, we pass it through an Azure component, and then we store that index in Office 365. So the same index that you already have as an Office 365 customer, we just append it and merge in your on premises content. But it passes through an Azure facility which helps from a content processing and queuing perspective, and that enables us to keep up with security crawls as well as continuous and incremental crawls that you may execute on premises.
So don’t think of it too differently than you would a traditional search service application that’s localized. It’s the same foundational technology. It’s a new managed property, which triggers a flow that drives the metadata through Azure, and ultimately merges it with your content stored in the Office 365 index.
Ben: Excellent. Quick question, I think you can answer actually pretty quickly. You talked about the new file size that we can…and a customer actually from here that have some large files. What is the new limit for this on SharePoint on premises and the one on Office 365 whether we know it’s coming or not?
Bill: All right, so we’ve taken a very similar approach with document upload limits, and we’ve recently announced supportability of 10 gigabytes in our Cloud based offering. And that same is applicable to SharePoint Server 2016, which means we’ve extended the boundary there by a 5 time increase to 10 gigabytes as well. So the boundaries effectively parity across both the Cloud and on premises service. Now the difference between the on premises service versus Office 365 is you have greater flexibility with the on premises boundary. By that I mean the 10 gigabyte boundary that we’ve established in SharePoint Server 2016 is not a definitive threshold. What that means is we support 10 gigabyte uploads with SharePoint Server 2016. Size value to any value beyond 10 gigabytes. So you’re not actually constrained at 10. From a supportability perspective, 10 is our boundary, however, we enabled you to programmatically extend that setting as well.
Ben: That definitely should be interesting. Now I know that you have to go, and I know a lot of people have schedule obviously. I want to remind everyone that all of these questions, I’m going to sit down, I’m going to go through all the questions. I’m going to answer everything that I can. I’m going to try to bug people at Microsoft to answer the ones that I cannot, and do a nice blog post. So check back sharegeeks.com/blog very soon. The recording will be available a lot sooner. As soon as we can get it up, we will. So just last question before we go, I saw a couple of questions on the mobility of SharePoint 2016. Is there going to be a mobile app and/or is there a mobile view of SharePoint 2016?
Bill: Sure, so from a 2016 perspective, we did introduce what we call the touch web based UX. What that experience is is effectively when you visit a SharePoint site or library on a small screen, we’ll respond to that by delivering what we call a mobile view. And what it is is it’s more of a tile based view of your content within a site. So it’s not necessarily responsive in the extent that the page itself will preserve its layout and respond to the device, we actually present you with a new mobile view that enables you to work on a mobile device that’s touch-friendly in a more tile based experience.
Now on responsiveness, we made a decision to enable our customers more flexibility when it comes to responsive design. And one of the key challenges that’s always been with SharePoint is the extent of its extensibility for using a bunch of redundant words all in the same sentence. But at the end of the day, SharePoint has always been defined by its extensibility. And much of those extensions is related to branding itself. It’s customization of the master page, it’s applying your own visual elements to deliver a specific brand to your organization through SharePoint.
Now unfortunately, it’s hard for us to predictively determine what customizations could be made because there are so many against a SharePoint site. So it becomes inordinately difficult to respond to those customizations and make everything responsive. If we make a page responsive, the customer’s custom web part may not have been delivered responsive. So it induces some challenges because there’s a lot of unpredictable nature to customization. We don’t have all the variables and we don’t have the scope of what our customers do. So the way that we opted to do some of the work with 2016 is one, provide this mobile view that I just talked about. Number two, on SharePoint patterns of practices, we actually release a project that we originally created for Office 365 that you can extend to SharePoint 2016, which delivers responsive design. You can take that project as is and make your out of the box SharePoint sites responsive, or you can fork that project and build it in a way enables your…
Ben: As their own.
Bill: Right, exactly. That’s the open source approach. It allows us to address both the out of the box market as well as that market who have made customizations to their sites. So you can really address both sets of customers’ needs.
Ben: Yeah, I saw that be very, very popular. So if you’re interested in mobility or responsive design, check out what’s been released recently to make…I think it even works for SharePoint 2013, is it possible?
Bill: It does.
Ben: Awesome, so definitely check it out. Again Bill, thank you so much. I think you have like seven hours of meetings and work, so thank you very much for your time. We really appreciate it. Again, thanks for Sharegate for putting this on and we’ll get back to you with all these questions. Thank you, thanks everyone.
Bill: Great, thanks.