7 things CIOs should know about SharePoint Server 2016

Here are top seven things you need to know about what writer Jonathan Hassell calls the last great on-premises application.

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A release candidate of SharePoint Server 2016 has arrived as a New Year’s present for us all. And with the release to manufacturing (RTM) of the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship collaboration product expected sometime this year, it appears to be a good opportunity to step back and survey seven things every CIO should know about SharePoint Server 2016.

1. SharePoint Server 2016 might be the last version of SharePoint designed to run on premises

You can even tell in the messaging for this 2016 release that the cloud is where Microsoft sees SharePoint living, in that the software giant claims SharePoint 2016 is a version of SharePoint baked with all of the knowledge and learnings and improvements that Microsoft has been able to integrate because of running SharePoint … in the cloud. Put simply, SharePoint has been cloud-first for a few years now, but we very well may be entering the stage of “cloud only.”

Microsoft always plays the “we do not talk about future releases beyond the version we are currently working on” card, but it is somewhat telling that the roadmap beyond SharePoint Server’s 2016 release this year is so muddy. It is abundantly clear that Microsoft is pushing everyone to sign up for SharePoint as a service, and regardless of how many features are in the 2016 release that are designed to make coexistence with Office 365 and your own on-premises servers more manageable and functional, you simply cannot argue with the fact that Microsoft sees SharePoint Online as SharePoint’s future – with a strong possibility of SharePoint Online being the exclusive way to use new versions of SharePoint. You should plan accordingly.

2. There will no longer be a free version of SharePoint for smaller shops or departmental use

Historically there has always been a free edition of SharePoint, called SharePoint Foundation or Windows SharePoint Services or some such that was available at no cost to install and had a reasonably complete set of features for a free product. It lacked some enterprise functionality like advanced database support, identity management integration, Excel Services (more on that in a bit), and others, but it was a credible solution for limited document management and collaboration needs.

The availability of such a free version let smaller businesses and branch offices use the benefits of SharePoint without having to be tied into a complete enterprise deployment and pay tens of thousands of dollars. Even small departments at places like universities hosted these free versions of SharePoint because of their autonomy. This is more – if you want SharePoint, you either pay Microsoft to host it for you via Office 365, or you pay for a license to SharePoint Server 2016.

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