What a crazy week at Microsoft Ignite in Chicago! With more 23,000 attendees and about 1,100 sessions, it was definitely on a scale unlike any other conference I’ve attended. There’s a lot going on in this ecosystem right now, so I thought I’d recap a few of the core concepts that really speak volumes to the direction of Microsoft and its offerings.
Hybrid SharePoint: Bringing the cloud to you
One of the challenges with Office 365 and SharePoint Online is security, which for many companies is paramount. There are certain types of documents that can’t live in the cloud. It was clear at Ignite that this message has resonated with Microsoft so they are taking a different approach with SharePoint 2016. Instead of trying to move entire solutions into the cloud, Microsoft understands that hybrid solutions appeal to a wider base and make migrating to the cloud a more gradual and controlled process.
SharePoint 2016 will essentially be similar to SharePoint Online, but with a major overhaul under the hood to enable hybrid scenarios so that documents can live both on-premises or in the cloud. This way, information can be delivered to users in a seamless, unified way.
There will be some new features from Office 365 that will be coming to on-premises in 2016–including Delve–but these will remain cloud-based services that leverage the computing power of Office Graph. The beauty of the hybrid approach is that organizations can choose the pace in which they scale solutions into the cloud. The option to stay completely on-premises with an updated feature set is also still available. It’s up to you!
You can check out the Evolution of SharePoint session here if you want a very high level overview of the hybrid search stuff. The SharePoint 2016 content starts at 30:50.
The future for Office 365 is really all about the power behind Office Graph. The idea behind the Graph is that it can use algorithms to gather intelligence about how users interact with each other and various Office 365 services and make it available through a robust API that developers can use.
The real power lies in Office Graph's ability to be extended. As developers of custom solutions, we can tackle any challenge and create our own custom data intelligence that lives within the Graph as well. This data can then be fed into any system, even one that may live entirely outside of the Office 365. Much more detail about the graph can be found in this session video.
Technology is changing fast and so is the rate in which we are having to invent solutions for new problems. It’s impossible for a single product like SharePoint to solve every challenge. The Graph will give developers a solid foundation for analytics intelligence and then give us the freedom to extend it to do anything we can imagine. We can pull this data into other systems, meaning we can build tailored experiences and move at the pace of each business' and users' needs, instead of relying so heavily on software updates from Microsoft.
Delve, in my opinion, is what My Sites in SharePoint should have been. It is heavily intertwined with Office Graph to better understand users and how they interact with the system.
A user can check their Delve page and see documents or other users they frequently interact with. The system continually learns what is relevant to each user. Given this capability, it’s hard to say what the future has in store for My Sites. For purely on-premises solutions, My Sites may still be relevant, but for anyone moving into the cloud it’s quite clear that Microsoft is betting on Delve. From what I’ve seen, Delve already providing way more value to users.
Visual Studio and Team Foundation
This may be not as glamorous as Graph or Delve, but Microsoft is continuing its commitment to developers and is making a real effort to support many development technologies–not just Microsoft ones.
Visual Studio 2015 (release candidate available now) has made big strides to support front end developers. Default integration of Node, Git, and task runners like Grunt/Gulp remove a lot of barriers for non-Microsoft developers. Mads Kristensen had a pretty good session on this stuff and you can watch the video here.
There was another great session given by Donovan Brown on the future of DevOps and looking at the preview bits for the next version of Team Foundation and the focus on cross-platform release management. It’s a pretty technical session, but the build automation stuff coming in the next version already looks amazing.
All sessions can be watched on the Ignite website here. There are hundreds of videos on there, so plenty of content to choose from.
Plus, here are a couple of other sessions I would recommend:
- Get Your Hands Dirty with the Office 365 RESTful APIs: https://myignite.microsoft.com/#/videos/85ebdd6c-b39a-e411-b87f-00155d5066d7
- What’s New for IT Professionals in SharePoint Server 2016: https://myignite.microsoft.com/#/videos/cfae257c-3695-e411-b87f-00155d5066d7 (This one is a bit more geared towards infrastructure folks, but still an interesting look into some of the changes in 2016)