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Yes, Virginia, there will be another SharePoint on premises!

Microsoft announces the plan for the evolution of SharePoint.

microsoft sharepoint logo

In a blog post on February 2, Julia White, Microsoft’s general manager for Office Product Management, defined a plan for the evolution of SharePoint, answering the question that a lot of customers wanted to know: With all the emphasis on Office 365 and SharePoint in the cloud, will there be another version of SharePoint on premises? The answer is yes, and the product has a name – SharePoint Server 2016.

Here are a few of the key messages in Julia’s post:

It’s still cloudy with a chance of SharePoint, but you don’t have to be “all in” – hybrid is where it’s at!

Microsoft has clearly heard the messages from its customers – not everyone is ready for the cloud (at least not yet). As a result, Microsoft is committed to meeting the needs of those customers. The next version of SharePoint on premises will be re-architected to make it easier for organizations to take advantage of the features of the cloud – but at their own pace. SharePoint Server 2016 will deliver great features on premises, but it will also make it easier for organizations to move some capabilities to the cloud in a hybrid scenario.

Portals-in-a-box.

Microsoft is expanding the portfolio of offerings to include “ready to go” portals for common solutions. The first of these “NextGen Portals” was the Office 365 Video Portal that was announced in November 2014. In 2015, Microsoft is planning to introduce new portals focused on “knowledge management and people.” I am anxious to know what this means – employee directory, knowledge base, expertise location? Knowledge management and people mean different things to different organizations, but I totally agree that there are common solutions (or capabilities or “portals”) that every organization wants, so I am anxious to see what this translates to in action.

Predictive search - Hey, Sue, have you seen this yet?

I continue to be more excited about Delve, and Julia made a point of mentioning Microsoft’s continued investment in information discovery by combining information signals and insights from the Office Graph and delivering personalized, predictive search outcomes – based on what you do and who you know and what they do without necessarily having to actually execute a search query.

Blurred lines -- between products.

Julia talks about blurring the lines across traditional Microsoft product silos to provide more consistent user experiences. This concept seems to extend the messaging that was clear from the preview of Windows 10 showcased in January of this year.

Ignite is the place to be!

When can you expect to see all this new SharePoint goodness? Julia made sure to throw a plug for Microsoft Ignite in Chicago from May 4-8. As I wrote last week, the sessions for Ignite are evolving but there are currently 129 sessions about Office 365 and SharePoint so my guess is that this event is where we’ll get the most comprehensive preview of SharePoint 2016. My guess is that the choice of the 2016 in the name is not by accident – it seems to indicate that we are not likely to see the production version launched at Ignite but the capabilities should be locked and the story ready to be told. I’m pretty sure that the RTM version of SharePoint 2013 was made available to enterprise customers around October of 2012, but I’m not sure if any of the old patterns still apply in the new world of Microsoft!

If you want another take on the announcement from Microsoft, my friend Naomi Moneypenny wrote a great blog post with her take-aways that I recommend.

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