Synchronised follow sites
When you click on the ‘follow’ site button, these will sync between on-premises and online; and all will appear in followed sites list. A big boost for ease of use and finding the sites you visit the most.
Cloud hybrid search
Perhaps the biggest new feature within the 2016 release is the general availability of cloud hybrid search for SharePoint On-Premises 2013 and beyond (i.e. 2016) allowing both on-premises and Office 365 content to be found in the same search result. A report by IDC found that people – 1day/8 hours – searching for documents, people and information. Having a single, unified search in place could be one of the biggest time savers for your business.
SharePoint 2016 feature packs
Another update worthy of mention is Microsoft’s plan to make some of the advanced features of SharePoint 2016 available as ‘feature packs’ for 2013 (and possibly 2010) iterations. Older versions of SharePoint will be able to avail of the latest great features—you could have a SharePoint 2013 farm, SharePoint 2016, and SharePoint Online, and with the feature pack you could have a unified App Launcher and navigation system that works with all three farms.
Document library changes
Microsoft have used real-user statistics to determine what buttons people use most from the millions and millions of OneDrive consumer users and the functions they don’t use at all, and simplified the SharePoint document library interface based on these stats. The benefit here is that this could be released in a feature pack so this interface change could be applied to on premises 2013 SharePoint farms – so from a user point of view, the content can be 2013, 2016 On-Premises and Online and the document libraries will all look and feel the same. This makes collaboration easier and there is less user resistance to change.
Bottom line: One of the promises of SharePoint 2016 is the option to stay On-Premises for core content while still benefiting from the advanced and new functionality provide by SharePoint Online. Not sure about a full move online or want to slowly introduce your company to the process? Hybrid is the option for you.
The On-Premises only option
The On-Premises option should only really be considered if you are a company that has a very real reason to stay on-premises and also deep pockets. You will have to be willing to invest in longer ongoing costs, taking care of your own patching, harbouring your own upgrades and maintaining a big server farm.
You will always be behind on the latest features and you’re not going to have the full power of the likes of Delve, Graph, or Office 365 working the way they will together with the Online or Hybrid option.
Bottom line: You need a big bank balance, but you do have complete control on your SharePoint estate and your content.
No one size fits all
Often, when faced with a decision like whether to migrate to a new version of SharePoint or to choose what option is best for your business, contemplating the needs of your employees for advanced collaboration, your budget, as well as the security and compliance necessities of your organisation can be a challenge. Keep in mind is that Microsoft understand the different circumstances that various companies face when contemplating a move, and that’s why they are concentrating their efforts on making a move to both the Cloud and Hybrid versions of SharePoint 2016 as easy as possible.
So if you can’t make up your mind whether to make the move, these advanced features packs may be the perfect bridge to take your collaboration and productivity to the next level without having to commit fully to a large migration of your data, or at least give you an idea of whether a full migration is the right option for your company.
Content and Code can inform your decision
Ultimately, the choice of what version of SharePoint you will deploy depends on multiple factors; but this newest release is a commitment from Microsoft to take the wide variety of circumstances into consideration – a SharePoint for almost every set of circumstances.