SharePoint 2016 for IT Pro’s

This is a wrap-up of an Ignite session (hosted by Bill Baer) which provided a very useful insight into what we can expect with the release of SharePoint 2016…..


Cloud investment benefiting on-premises


  • Traditionally, the release of an on-premises version of SharePoint has provided the definition and foundation of the cloud offerings for SharePoint Online and Office 365. But now, the roles have been reversed and MS are taking what they’ve learn from the cloud, and on a hyper-scale, into SharePoint 2016. SharePoint 2016 is a ‘point-in-time’ snapshot of SharePoint Online.


  • SharePoint 2016 is the most durable, robust and tested version ever released due to its presence in the cloud. It’s a comprehensive solution for integrated and connected information.


New management investments:


Hardware (pretty much on par with SP2013 requirements)



Perquisites (Hardware & Software)


  • App Fabric (varying caching capabilities) still a ‘supported’ component of SharePoint despite going out of Windows support next year
  • SQL 2014 minimum database requirement
  • No support for SQL Express and standalone SharePoint installations



Upgrade & Migration

  • New version (16.0.4021.1201)
  • Only upgrade from SP2013 to SP2016 supported – no direct upgrade from 2010. The number of architectural changes in SP2013 won’t allow this version to be bypassed (best upgrade experience)
  • Any SP2013 14.5 Site Collections (effectively running in SP2010 mode, will need to be brought forward to SP2013 before they can be migrated to SP2016. Alternatively, SP2013 sites can be migrated directly to SP2016 or you can use database attach methodology.
  • No significant Service Application architecture changes. Performance Point available in SP2016
  • SharePoint Designer will not be updated for SP2016 –SP2013 version still supported




Identity changes

  • With SP2013 Windows claims, Forms-Based, WSFED, SAML Claims to name but a few, were all made available to provide backwards capability. With SP2016 SAML authentication now treated as a ‘first class citizen’ and OAuth and this will open identity options which weren’t available in SP2013 when it certain scenarios (Business Intelligence)
  • Apps will trust Azure Active Directory
  • Older identity models will be supported (Windows SAML) but just like SP2013 when ‘Classic’ became deprecated, this is the first move away from domain identity and towards cloud identity.





  • With SP2010 & SP2013 all traffic using Port 25 (Alerts, Reminders) was unencrypted. Now, non-standard ports can be leveraged and encrypted using STARTTLS – encryption between SharePoint servers and messaging systems
  • If encryption fails on non-standard port, it will not fail-back to an non-encrypted port – process will fail. All configurable via Central Admin and Powershell



Performance and Reliability



  • ‘Min’ Role

    SP20103 roles were quite agnostic and there were four types of different roles (Distributed Cache, Request Management, Web Servers, Batch Processing). Roles were ultimately defined by guidance in Technet documentation. In SP2016, ‘roles’ have been defined by code – there are effectively three:

  1. User Services. This is a
    Web server receiving any form of request from a user. In SP2013, this request may have to ‘traverse’ a number of layers (Web/App Servers) to meet the request and then ‘traverse’ back up the stack to the Web Server before providing the result to the client – so, potential degree of latency to each request.
  2. Robot Services – any request that NOT initiated by end user (Timer Jobs, Batch processing jobs)
  3. Caching Services – distributed cache

    Any SharePoint request, whether internal or by end user, should be managed by a single role server. Improve performance and efficiency and crucially, avoid the traversing of requests through multiple layers.

  • ‘Specialised load’ role > third-party solution which provides a role within SP Farm > could be a non-standard Service Application. Now we can scale a server on a unit role basis whereas previously, server may had had no identity
  • Single server Farm’ – still need a SQL instance, no SQL Express availability
  • New ‘health rules’ introduced to maintain new ‘min role based rules – detects any deviation away from role to ensure topology compliance is maintained
  • Powershell can be used to provision server roles for scripted build requirements




  • In the past, number of .MSI per update, multiplied when language packs required. SP2016 patching, reduced number of .MSI and .MSP to reduce footprint – so patch is smaller and optimised performance. Execution time faster and with ZERO downtime.

    All of the upgrades now run ‘online’ as opposed to ‘offline’ which subsequently led to the stopping/starting of services. Now, you can effectively patch SharePoint during the middle of the day! This ability to patch online comes from SharePoint Online with agreessive SLA’s which need to be adhered.


Distributed Cache

  • Improved reliability and performance
  • New feature which switches off the NTLM authentication between SharePoint and the Distributed Cache cluster which previously caused failures and delays – authentication overheard as the constant chatter with Active Directory. New transport layer mitigates against these delays.


Boundaries & Limits

  • New scalability by virtue of SharePoint Online thresholds
  • Increased content DB size (likely to be into the TB’ as opposed to GB)
  • 100,0000 site collections per content database
  • List threshold increased to 5,000 items
  • 10GB upload max file size
  • Search increased x 2 > 500 million items in Search scale




Fast Site Creation

  • End users don’t generally have self-service Site creation which from a SP perspective is a heavy-lifting operation (provisioning and enabling of features/services) .Now using SPSite.Copy at Content Database Level you can rapidly enable site creation.

    In the background, we’re replicating SQL rows from a ‘master’ template from point A to point B – and thus bypassing code and feature activation



User Profile Service

  • No longer ‘baked’ into SP
  • AD synchronisation rejuvenated (old 2007 SP way!) or use external replication via FIM installed on a separate server outside of SharePoint. No more FIM!



Project Server

  • Project Server now part of the conventional SP Content Databases – more of a consolidated approach

db’s into Content Database

  • Project Server still needs to be licensed independently even though it is embedded into SharePoint




Durable Links


  • In early versions of SharePoint, if you sent out a link/URL to an item, and then renamed or moved the item to another location, the link become broken and unusable. This is resolved in SP2016 with resource-ID based URL’s, which work on endpoints.

    New files when uploaded are provided with a ‘resource link/site ID’ and an affinity – so, regardless of whether the file is moved to, either a new Site Collection, the affinity is maintained.

    Or, if the file is renamed, the underlying link doesn’t change because the file is marked with a resource ID and an affinity – it doesn’t matter where the new URL is.




  • Unified compliance portal across online and on-premises
  • Document fingerprinting, item-level encryption (available via hybrid connectivity – also compliant with Exchange and Skype for Business)
  • Azure RMS for SP on-premises and Online (with single item encryption)
  • EDiscovery hybrid offering across both online and on-premises



Cloud Search Service Application

  • New Service Application which will be shipped later this year as part of SP2013 (and fully embedded within SP2016). This will unify cloud and on-premises search indexes – single entity for Search. This will allow you can search from Cloud or on-premises into single results pane.

    Brings the power of Office Graph/Delve to on-premises (*Delve is not deployed on-premises’ – you leverage the capabilities via the new Cloud Search Service*)




Extranet Site Publishing

  • Publish internal sites to Internet (Extranet hybrid scenario – for people struggling with Federation options like ADFS)




Team Site Improvements


  • Hybrid team sites > allow you to follow a site whether it’s on-premises or online. One unique panel across both environments  



Scenario Picker

  • Hybrid deployments were complex to implement (with Search, BCS). Scenario picker is an automation wizard for implementing hybrid experience – far cry from 15 pages of Powershell










SharePoint Evolution – Ignite 2015

It’s official; SharePoint is not dead, not by a long way!

Bill Bear, senior SharePoint product manager announced at Ignite that SharePoint 2016 will be the ‘most robust, most secure and most tested‘ version of SharePoint to date. The cloud, and SharePoint Online, has been designed and architected to such a scale that this has pretty much laid the foundation for the next on-premises release.

This is a far cry from the Microsoft stance even a year ago when the SharePoint community were warned that on-premises would remain behind the curve with its flagship, Office 365, taking the lead in terms of new features of functionality. Now, it would see that all of the ‘cool stuff’ (like Delve) is being released to on-premises too. (Delve is not deployed on-premises – you leverage the capabilities via the new Cloud Search Service*)

Personally, I’m fully expecting SharePoint’s identity to change in time and the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ approach, which was once its strength will soon become history – and this is positive in my opinion. SharePoint quite simply, does ‘too much’ and lacks a genuine identity. All of the individual components are evidently being de-coupled and branded/marketed individually – and this will evolve further.

Even the traditional stance of ‘installing all of the bits’ has gone with the installation of SP2016 as admins now have the option of determining which roles to install and thus, reduce the server footprint.

Here are the key announcements points from the ‘Evolution of SharePoint’ session (with some personal opinion along the way)

  • SharePoint 2016 is being developed around three principles:
    • The overall user experience
    • Extensibility
    • SharePoint Management

  • Office 365 remains the fastest growing commercial product in Microsoft’s history – the annual turnover is around $6.3m. 80% of the Fortune 500 companies have purchased 0365 in the last 12 months
  • Microsoft have admitted that many of the hybrid options with SharePoint 2013 were not appealing, especially when it came to a full migration to the cloud, but the new designs with SP2016 have been largely designed to mitigate the migration pain-points (two examples were given; BCS and Search).

    First and foremast, SharePoint 2016 is a Cloud Inspired Infrastructure with an emphasis on encouraging hybrid. There’s also be tighter integration options with Exchange and Lync.

  • Delve (Office Graph) is coming to SharePoint 2013 on-premises, potentially later this year (pretty major announcement) So, all of the clever machine-learning capabilities behind Delve and Search are not just for 0365 customers. Included in Delve is a new People ‘About Me’ profile section and also new apps for both Android and IPhone (with Windows phone planned for 2015 too)

    However, having spoken to a couple of well-placed individuals, there appears to be some reservations whether Delve is a feasible on-premises solution. Not only does Delve/Graph require significant compute power, the complexity of the interconnections which bridge the ‘relationships’ and the need for machine learning capabilities, leaves you pondering how all of this could be packaged into a data centre deployment? Whatever happens, Delve’s reputation and appeal is growing and the service has already evolved from what I first witnessed as SharePoint Conference in Vegas last year. For me, Delve’s main asset is the way it can potentially display all of the relevant content you require (and more) which is currently held in varying types of company silos.

  • Baer admitted that One Drive for Business isn’t ‘where we want it to be’ – and this is a core focus for MS over the forthcoming months, including more viable options on the mobile front. In addition, there appears to be improved personal file sharing solution on the horizon.
  • Evolution of SharePoint Portals. Microsoft have identified the need to provide reusable portals for ‘ready to go’ experiences. These common portals are the thinking behind the headline ‘next generation portals; two of which are the Office 365 ‘Video portal’ and the new ‘Knowledge Portal’ (codename ‘Infopedia’)

    The Video portal is very much of hybrid thinking with the embedded page ‘videos’ held within Azure Video services. The Knowledge portals will pull together the concept of ‘boards’ and microsites into a single experience with ‘table of contents’ style navigation.  

In conclusion, it appears that MS have finally got the message that a fully-fledged Cloud migration is not an option for many a company and now they’re seemingly happy to ‘nudge you’ along the way – that really is a turnaround in stance over the past 12 months in my opinion. They’ve also taken their foot of the gas in terms of promoting Yammer at every conceivable moment and it was hardly mentioned during Ignite 

Expect the unexpected with SharePoint and when it arrives in preview this summer and then in Beta during Q4, but the early indications are that this is a serious step-up in class from SharePoint 2013 and while there’s remains a big appetite for SharePoint, MS will continue to invest and deliver.