At Ignite in September 2017, Microsoft announced that it would be releasing a new version of SharePoint — SharePoint 2019 - sometime in 2018. The preview version, according to Microsoft, would be released in the second quarter of 2018 followed by a general release later in the year. While the release of SharePoint 2016 — the current version of SharePoint — was characterized by discussions as to whether the 2016 edition would be the last on-premises edition or not, there is no such discussion this time around. SharePoint 2019 will be very much an on premises edition of the platform with hybrid capabilities enabling users to move between the online version and the on-premises version.

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What Microsoft Said About SharePoint 2019

To be clear about this, Ron Grzywacza, a SharePoint Premier field engineer at Microsoft had this to say in an official blog post about the upcoming version, “SharePoint Server 2019 is a comprehensive solution for connected information work that preserves structured processes, compliance, IT investment optimized for the way people work through an easily-managed and integrated platform.” While it was not certain that the following elements will appear in the new edition when its finally unveiled, Grzywacza describes the following addition as "big bets."

  • Next-Gen Sync Client support
  • Modern UX throughout the product
  • Flow / Power Apps integration
  • Other SharePoint Online innovations

In fact, Benjamin Niaulin, a Microsoft MVP and product manager at Montréal, Canada-based Sharegate spent a lot of time at last year’s Ignite going through the many slides and announcements that were made during the conference and put together a roadmap for SharePoint online that, to date, has been right on the money. 

Keep in mind that Microsoft had also indicated at its Ignite conference in 2016 that upgrades to SharePoint would appear in the online edition first, then would be pushed into the on-premises edition.

Everyone Wants Hybrid Capabilities

Even with all this, though, unlike the case with previous editions, little has leaked about what the on-premises version will look like once it emerges later this year. However, when we asked people what they hoped would appear, the response was just about unanimous. Everyone wants more hybrid capabilities.

Peter Yared is chief technology officer and co-founder of San Francisco-based Sapho. “We have seen a surge of IT investment in SharePoint employee portals over the past year as companies want to engage employees from a central and consistent location. Microsoft is aggressively pushing their customers to shift to the cloud and consolidating numerous on-premises SharePoint servers into a single cloud instance... a great play,” he said. At Sapho we have deepened our SharePoint integration because of repeated customer requests, and have added features for transactional capabilities such as, giving employees the ability to complete approvals from their various on-premises and SaaS systems in their employee portal hosted on SharePoint Cloud.

Christian Buckley, founder and CEO of Salt Lake City-based CollabTalk, as well as a Microsoft MVP, said Microsoft has underestimated the interest in hybrid SharePoint and he is hoping that the new edition will make hybrid solutions easier. “I am most looking forward to additional support for hybrid scenarios. Over the past couple years, I think Microsoft underestimated the number of organizations that are currently managing, or are planning to move to a hybrid solution,” he said. “Companies have a wide range of reasons for moving to hybrid, and I’m glad to see that instead of pushing organizations to the cloud before they are ready, they are supporting an expanding set of scenarios that will allow companies to leverage the newest features but continue to benefit from existing infrastructure investments.”

Learning Opportunities

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More Governance and Compliance

Vancouver, Canada based Colligo focuses on making it easy for end users to collaborate on content that is governed, particularly for records management and retention applications.  According to Barry Jinks CEO and founder of Colligio, many of Colligo’s customers are looking to move more and more of their data to the cloud. But much of it remains, and will remain for the foreseeable future, on-premise in SharePoint. For SharePoint 2019, he is looking forward to any announcements and capabilities in the governance and compliance area. “Our goal is to assist our customers to govern the data wherever it resides, so as they move more data into the cloud, we are looking for ways to help them govern that content in hybrid environments,” he said. 

“We are particularly interested in extensions, in SharePoint on-premise, of the released and announced capabilities that are currently available in Office365, such as classification of content using labels and enforcement of retention policies based on that classification. Providing that capability would enable organizations to transition all or part of their data seamlessly to the cloud,” said Jinks.

Stronger Intranet Options

For people running intranets on SharePoint, Sam Marshal is hoping that the modern experience is brought fully to SharePoint2019. Marshall is the owner of UK-based ClearBox Consulting and has specialized in intranets and the digital workplace for over 18 years. Communication and hub sites would be great. Ideally all the legacy web parts will be updated too, and publishing sites refreshed, but that feels less likely. “In the ideal world, Microsoft will recognize that internal social media is just ‘normal’ now. SharePoint on-premises users have been left with the much-neglected Community sites after the focus moved to Yammer and Microsoft Teams. It would be great to see some improvements there, but I wouldn’t even bet my lunchtime sandwich on it happening,” he said.

More Help Transition to Cloud Models

Going to the cloud is a necessity, no longer a luxury. If an organization means to survive in today's digital workplace and changing needs from our customers, they are looking at moving to the cloud, according to Simon de Baene, co-founder and CEO of Sharegate. “However, not everyone will jump with both feet right away and so my guess is we will see a SharePoint 2019 that will help with that transition. My guess is we will see a SharePoint 2019 that brings us closer to the cloud. A modern SharePoint look and feel so users can go back and forth between on-premises and Office 365 without seeing too much of a UI clash and more hybrid solutions,” he said.

What Lies Ahead

Whatever Microsoft releases later this year will undoubtedly offer a lot for both on-premises and online users of SharePoint. Organizations have been asking for hybrid capability since the last edition of SharePoint and Microsoft has, hopefully, been listening.