inflating a hot air balloon
Microsoft's current mindset about SharePoint hybrid is one of coexistence with related technologies. PHOTO: Mikel Iturbe Urretxa

The year and a half between the inaugural Microsoft Ignite conference in 2015 and Ignite 2016 shed new light on the debates surrounding SharePoint on-premises versus cloud. 

During that period, Jeff Teper returned to oversee the combined SharePoint and OneDrive organizations as corporate vice president. His role, and the combined entities he oversees, is significant because it not only unifies the content lifecycle, but it also gives the OneDrive team the opportunity to test new features with its many consumer sided users before introducing them to business users. 

Combining these two teams demonstrates Microsoft's new vision of hybrid. 

While SharePoint hybrid describes a specific set of functionalities, I’d like to use a different term to describe Microsoft’s current mindset: coexistence. I’ll use the “Four Pillars of SharePoint” to help demonstrate how Microsoft is unifying SharePoint on-premises and online.

four pillars of SharePoint

Designing for the Full Content Creation Lifecycle

The simple and powerful file sharing pillar focuses on the individual user’s experience. 

By designing for the full content creation lifecycle, Microsoft is moving to unify the OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online experience. The lifecycle starts in our personal file location and transfers to a centralized repository once the initial edits are completed. 

In OneDrive, users will be able to see all files that have been shared with them across SharePoint – creating a more seamless connection between the technologies, and very soon will be able to actually move files between systems.

Mobile Becomes a First Class Citizen

After mobile appearing as an afterthought for many years, it has finally reached first class citizen status in Microsoft's design decisions.

Workers expect to have access to their content anywhere from any device, and Microsoft has committed to building not only responsive libraries and lists, but also adaptable publishing pages. 

These new features are not only built for migration but take into consideration the variety of uses – from simple document drop off, to knowledge management repositories heavily invested in metadata. 

Baking Security In From the Start

Security permeated many of the presentations and releases at Ignite 2016

Microsoft is trying to build in trust when designing new features. While much of this evolution on security has taken place behind closed doors, development teams have been laying the foundation to secure our content. 

In the short period of time between the launch of SharePoint Server 2016 and today, we can see a rapid advance towards coexistence. The limited set of advancements included in the on-premises release will soon receive an upgrade with the release of Feature Pack 1 scheduled for November. That release will put unified auditing at our fingertips.

Open and Connected Platform: The Pillar of Hybrid Technologies

A key component of coexistence not only rests in the technology, but in the changing skill sets needed to develop inside of Office 365. 

A dedicated team has designed the SharePoint Framework to follow client-side development best practices, be backward compatible and support open source tools — quite amazing when compared to my beginning days in 2006. 

SharePoint Server 2016 is “born from the cloud” and shares code with Office 365. So instead of being a wholly separate technology, they are connected. While connecting on-premises to the cloud requires some technological steps, Microsoft has already shown how end-users can seamlessly traverse the two infrastructures, coexisting in both places at once.

SharePoint is back to being an infrastructure — an infrastructure that spans on-premises and cloud technologies allowing businesses to determine and deploy the best scenario for themselves. The cloud will always have more features and functionality — it’s just not possible for individual organizations to provide processing power needed — but Microsoft's plan rolling forward is clear – coexistence.