A few of the highlights from the SharePoint for Admins session on 5/6/2015. These are not all the announcements re SharePoint from the conference! These are just a few highlights from one session:
The only supported upgrade path will be from SharePoint 2013. SharePoint 2010 content databases will not be able to be upgraded. This is not to say that SharePoint 2010 farms are out of luck, as the content can be migrated via 3rd party tools, though certainly that would involve a different type of effort.
A number of announcements were related to reducing downtime. One example is that patches will now be applied “online”. It was specifically stated that patches can be applied during the day while users are accessing the server. (Office 365 defines being “up” as including times when its read-only, so we’ll see what this really means)
A number of announcements related to increased performance. One relates to the familiar subject of the size limits of the various types of entities within SharePoint. Following is the current plan for 2016:
- Content DBs: Multiple Terabyte content databases will be supported
- Site collections per content database: 100,000
- List Threshold: >5000 (5000 is the current threshold. Nothing more was said about this other than saying that the new limit would be “well beyond” the current limit)
- Maximum File Size: 10GB
Fast site collection creation was announced. Normally, creating site collections takes a noticeable amount of time. The new system will simply copy an existing site collection at content database level. This means that we won’t have to wait for features to be activated, as are already activated in the “master” site collection.
User Profile Synchronization will use a different synchronization mechanism than in 2013. The older mechanism was notoriously difficult to configure. The newer mechanism is vastly simpler, but also does not have the full functionality of the older one. So, synchronizations between Active Directory and SharePoint will run faster, but it would seem that shops that are writing values back to Active Directory from SharePoint will not be able to do so with the out of the box feature. (Does this also mean that there may be issues with using BDC connections as secondary data sources for Profile imports?)
During the installation of SharePoint, we will be able to assign each server one of a few roles, which will then determine what services will be run on that server. There has long been guidance as to what services should be run on each server, but this new feature makes it easier to implement that guidance. (What does this mean for smaller shops who want to run with 1 WFE and 1 App server? That’s doesn’t seem to be included as a possibility, as only one role could be selected on the role selection screen. So there didn’t seem to be a way to make a server to have both the search role and an app role such as excel services.)
Insights and Data
Dashboards for usage analytics are being added. These will provide information about things like daily active users, which browsers are being used, storage space used, storage space used by site template, etc. (This looks nice. SP 2010 had decent capabilities in this area, but 2013 removed them. It looks like the 2010 reports are back with many enhancements)
A large amount of time was spent on the announcements regarding hybrid environments. First, there will be a “hybrid configuration wizard”, which will be a very welcome change. Currently, there are numerous white papers and numerous settings that need to be configured in exactly the right way.
Currently, if a hybrid environment is set up with SharePoint 2013 and Office 365, search results can contain results from both environments. However, the Office 365 results will show up as a “result block” within the on-prem results. In SharePoint 2016, Hybrid environments will support a “unified search index”, which means that search results from both sources will appear as they should: intermingled as to provide a seamless experience.
Another area of improvement to Hybrid is with following documents, sites, or people. Currently, if a user selects to follow a site that is on premise, that site will not appear in their list of followed sites that appears in Office 365. The new hybrid capabilities will allow followed items to be surfaced in both environments.