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CMSWire's Hits of 2015: SharePoint and Office 365

10 minute read
Derek Walter avatar

Can a business survive without Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365? Debatable, based on the interest stories about these products generate each year.

In 2015, we saw the release of two SharePoint 2016 previews, which have received generally positive reviews to date. Want to know something specific? Odds are we have you covered: 

We have a wide base of knowledge to share about how you can make the most of SharePoint within your organization.

A Sample of Popular Posts

Here’s a collection of the more popular ideas about SharePoint and Office 365 from CMSWire writers.

1) Microsoft started off the push for SharePoint 2016 early, teasing a number of the new features. David Roe took a detailed look with Microsoft Leaks Offer a Glimpse of SharePoint 2016. Tweet to David Roe.

Julia White, general manager for Office product development, outlined some of the directions Microsoft will be going in the medium term. Microsoft, she said, will continue to build and develop the on-premises version as long as people are using it. She added that the new on-premises version this year would be “the most secure, reliable version to date allowing organization to take advantage of cloud innovations on their terms.”

2) With the newest version of SharePoint bringing in some excitement, it meant the appeal was gone for Yammer. That’s what Chris Wright found with SharePoint is Back, Yammer ... Not So Much. Tweet to Chris Wright.

So soon we shall have SharePoint 2016. Microsoft posted a pretty in-depth blog just before Ignite on what to expect in terms of features. It is focusing on three areas: improved UX, cloud-inspired infrastructure and better compliance and reporting. There is a lot of good stuff from Office 365 being included, and much better support for the Hybrid deployment model.

3) Few people were as down on Office 365 as Joe Shepley, who wrote Office 365 is a Disaster Waiting to Happen. Tweet to Joe Shepley.

Microsoft is in the midst of a full court press to get organizations on O365, especially moving share drive content to O365. As part of this, it's doing quick hit, fixed fee projects to migrate shared drive content to O365 -- whether a simple cut and paste to OneDrive or a slightly more advanced lift and shift to SharePoint.

4) Others were not so dire when it came to making predictions about Office software. David Roe offered 4 Directions For SharePoint and Office 365 in 2015. Tweet to David Roe.

Microsoft will continue to build and develop the on-premises version as long as people are using it. White said that because many enterprises still run their businesses on-premises and behind the firewall, even if hybrid is increasingly attractive, the new on-premises version this year will be “the most secure, reliable version to date allowing organization to take advantage of cloud innovations on their terms.”

5) Sometimes you have to give things up in order for it to get better. That may be the case with SharePoint 2016, as Todd Klindt looked at 5 Things We Lose in SharePoint 2016 Preview. Tweet to Todd Klindt.

I guess Microsoft assumes that SharePoint is so darn popular now they don't need to give it away for free. Previous releases of SharePoint Server included SharePoint Foundation, a free edition of SharePoint that included most of the core functionality and architecture provided by the commercial editions of SharePoint.

6) Office 365 has a tremendous amount of tools for different elements of your teams. Bill Ryan wrote more about this with his piece, Building a Digital Workplace with Office 365. Tweet to Bill Ryan.

Microsoft continues to update Office 365 to enhance the collaboration capabilities and extend the reach of the platform to mobile devices. The platform offers several ways to engage with coworkers or collaborate on documents with the key element to the entire suite being the tight integration with the Office platform.

7) Maybe we need to look even further ahead when it comes to the future of SharePoint. That’s what Edmund White did with 3 SharePoint Paths for the Next 10 Years. Tweet to Edmund White.

Office 365 will still be a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering 10 years from now, as it is today. But the on-premises SharePoint platform will always offer a more flexible, customizable and controllable experience for administrators and developers. Certain workloads may never be able to leave the on-premises environment.

8) SharePoint customization doesn’t need to be as scary as it sounds. Follow the advice from Kevin Conroy with Don’t Be Afraid of SharePoint Customization. Tweet to Kevin Conroy.

Big consulting companies you’ve heard of -- with names like Accenture and PWC -- have built thriving businesses around customizing platforms like Oracle and SAP. You don’t hear those companies telling you to stop customizing their products the way Microsoft did. They embrace the understanding that they make powerful platforms -- and there is always room to customize to further enhance the power.

9) Trying out the beta version of software can be a good chance to get a feel for new features and where the pesky bugs lie. We got a good preview from Todd Klindt with Cancel Your Plans: SharePoint 2016 Beta is (Almost) Here. Tweet to Todd Klindt.

For the past couple of years, we IT pros really haven't known what our place in the world was going to be with SharePoint. But I feel like in the past couple of months I've seen the future. At least for me, as an IT pro, part of that future is identity.

10) Microsoft’s Ignite Conference lit up some controversy with a sudden decision to relocate the event from Chicago to Atlanta. Noreen Seebacher and David Roe tried to get to the bottom of it with Microsoft Relocates Ignite 2016 from Chicago to Atlanta. Tweet to Noreen Seebacher and David Roe.

Microsoft hasn't said anything for the record and has not responded to CMSWire's request for comment. And while no one in the Microsoft IT community has any definitive information to share, there is plenty of speculation. CMSWire contributor Vlad Catrinescu, author of the Absolute SharePoint Blog, suggested several reasons why Microsoft may have canceled or postponed the event.

11) It’s inevitable there will be lots of comparisons between SharePoint and Yammer. Rich Wood took this head-on with The Yammer vs. SharePoint Governance Taste Test. Tweet to Rich Wood.

When embracing enterprise social on the Microsoft platform, it's important to understand the differences between modern, cloud-based social collaboration and the collaboration characteristics of older, document-first systems, like many legacy SharePoint environments. If you’re used to thinking of “governance” in a SharePoint context, it can be a difficult transition — even an unnatural one — into governing a Yammer network properly while still encouraging user engagement.

Learning Opportunities

12) The transition to Office 365 was a difficult one for some. Thomas Vander Wal tries to shed more light on some of the struggles with Phenomena. Tweet to Thomas Vander Wal.

A few reasons are behind this shift. But being able to see who is (or isn't) using a service provides a new measurement, and adds to the awareness that things have shifted from the standard, “of course your job uses Microsoft Office.” So why this change, now?

13) Despite some mixed reviews, there are still plenty of features with SharePoint that you can get behind. Jennifer Mason offers some of such strengths with From Build It and Go, to Ready to Go with SharePoint. Tweet to Jennifer Mason.

Over the years, our customers have built incredibly rich, dynamic portals. Now we’re expanding the portfolio and delivering new ‘ready-to-go’ Portals that historically would have taken customers weeks, if not months, to build. NextGen Portals, by design, are intelligent, collaborative, mobile and ready to go.

14) The only thing more exciting than a new beta release? Beta 2. That’s what Microsoft sent out in November as Vlad Catrinescu discussed with Guess Who's Coming to Thanksgiving? SharePoint 2016 Beta 2 #ESPC15. Tweet to Vlad Catrinescu.

By 2020, the world will have over 44 zettabytes (44 trillion gigabytes) of digital data, and most of it will be unstructured data such as emails and documents. And Microsoft sees SharePoint and OneDrive as the best platforms for enterprises to manage this huge amount of data.

15) Microsoft is making a major push to make it easy to integrate your data into the company’s cloud. Mike Ferrara goes into details with What’s New with Office 365 Compliance Center. Tweet to Mike Ferrara.

Microsoft wants your data. And it wants it so badly that it’s making it very easy for you to migrate bulk content into Office 365. One of the drivers for this is essentially the desire to gain competitive advantage for some of these compliance features. If your data is sitting on-prem, then obviously you’re going to have a tough time getting accurate data with Compliance Center.

16) Many businesses are sticking with SharePoint, despite any seeming limitations. John Mancini dove into Businesses Committed to SharePoint, Despite Stalled Deployments. Tweet to John Mancini.

Despite only 11 percent of businesses identifying their SharePoint projects as successful, 75 percent of respondents said they still have a strong commitment to making the platform work. There has been a doubling of take up in the cloud 365 version, and nearly 40 percent of users continue to adopt multiple add-on products to fill in gaps and extend functionality.

17) A new API for SharePoint shows a lot of promise for getting outside content into SharePoint and OneDrive. But there’s a lot to unpack, according to Steven Pogrebivsky in Demystifying the New Migration API for SharePoint. Tweet to Steven Pogrebivsky.

From an Office 365 customer standpoint, the most prominent reason for using the API will be speed. During his presentation, Microsoft's Simon Bourdages alluded to a five-time increase over traditional methods. Our testing had a wider range of results, which I will touch on a little later, but the bottom line is that under all circumstances the new migration API performed better than legacy methods.

18) While SharePoint is generally easy to set up and get going, it takes some effort to learn how to manage all that information properly. That was the experience of Jed Cawthorne in Keeping SharePoint In Check with Information Governance. Tweet to Jed Cawthorne. Tweet to Jed Cawthorne.

In my experience, both as a consultant and SharePoint "user,” the biggest problems with SharePoint were ease of deployment and ease of use. It was (and remains) far too easy for IT to set up a SharePoint site (or site collection with multiple sub-sites) and hand them over to a business group that has no expertise in information governance or information management.

19) If you’re still hanging out with SharePoint 2013, there’s still plenty to learn. Joelle Farley offers some insight with More SharePoint 2013 Search Tips for Power Users. Tweet to Joelle Farley.

As a power user of SharePoint you may wonder how to make the most of all of the search features in SharePoint 2013. We covered Continuous Crawl, Content Search Web Part and Query Rules previously, so let's take a deep dive into Search Schema and the new Refinement Panel.

20) Transitioning to a fully cloud-hosted environment is a tricky matter. According to Rich Wood, it can feel like this: SharePoint Partners: Transform and Roll Out or Crash and Burn. Tweet to Rich Wood.

Third-party software vendors who make their living integrating with SharePoint and augmenting its functionality had an obvious path forward: 1. make their own solutions cloud-ready, and 2. diversify their offerings to avoid banking on feature sets Microsoft might build into the platform. Many have done so. Others, conspicuously, have not. The web is already littered with early casualties of Office 365.