By Umang Shah
*Source: Ignite 2015
Microsoft provides one of the premiere solutions for enterprise collaboration. If we compare SharePoint’s evolution over the past decade to those of the IT industry you’ll find that they have many similarities:
- Loose coupling/microservice-based architecture: SharePoint started this approach in 2010 with service applications (remember shared service in MOSS?). Since then, Microsoft has been working diligently to decouple as much as possible.
- Mobile-first approach (Cross-platform, device-specific app development): This trend changed the face of IT services, and Microsoft SharePoint embraced it with responsive design and multi-channel support.
- Cloud-first model: Features such as Delve are only possible in a Cloud-first environment, and Microsoft invests heavily in machine learning and research to the advantage of its subscribers. On-premise models are no longer feasible, as they require significant investments of time and resources.
- Improvement in identity management: AAD (Azure Active Directory) is a global active directory. One of the biggest advantages of any enterprise solution is SSO (single sign on), and Microsoft's AAD is a powerful option. Moreover, Office Groups' all-in-one authorization maintenance is a cherry on top.
SharePoint developers are anticipating even more changes. For power users and developers, here are the latest developments:
- SharePoint Community Portal > Yammer: SharePoint Community Portal was one of the most underrated features. It had badges, reputation, and gamification components. Now, with a more modern interface in Yammer it is difficult to find a strong use case for SharePoint Community Portal. Some features of SharePoint Community Portal are not in Yammer but it can be added via Market Place.
- Insights (PerformancePoint/PowerPivot/Report Viewer/Excel Services) > PowerBI: From the beginning SharePoint has focused on BI. It supported reporting service web parts in MOSS, and then acquired Business Scorecard Manager which morphed into PerformancePoint. It also introduced PowerPivot (SSAS) and Power View (SSRS) in SharePoint mode. These are now separate components of Power BI as a service and are available as an independent component of Office 365.
- SharePoint Search > Delve & Hybrid Enterprise Search: Search has been a cornerstone of SharePoint and it continues to evolve. Delve “lets the content find you automatically” based on your personal interaction and permissions (machine learning). Hybrid Search (Office 365’s on-premise search service) is a true hybrid option with a single index rather than two separate indices. Although Delve is evolving, it is still not a replacement for the traditional search center.
- Forms customization from List/InfoPath > PowerApps. InfoPath Form Designer: A rapid form designer found in SharePoint’s older versions that still supports quick editing of list forms and task forms in (Workflow Designer). Eventually PowerApps will replace it, but for now it’s decoupled and can be applied to any data. It also has built-in support across devices with a Cloud-first, mobile-first approach.
- Task Lists > Planner in Office 365: Originally designed to be used in Workflow, a 2013 addition of the timeline allowed for more seamless project management. It remains the preferred option for structured project management, but Planner has a better user interface and seamless integration with other services.
- SharePoint 2010 and 2013 Workflow Engine > Microsoft Flow and Logic apps: Many people have moved on because of a workflow issue. The Workflow engine evolved drastically in 2010, and then again changed in 2013, but decoupling would make it even more efficient.
- Customization (WebPart > client-side WebPart/Sandbox > SP Apps > add in > SharePoint Framework component: Customization has changed significantly in SharePoint. From manually copying all to GAC and web.config changes to structured WSP to APP packages. With the evolution of CSOM API, we are in the era of SPF in which Microsoft decoupled development away from Visual Studio/MSBuild. Also it focused more on a full-stack development model. SPF (SharePoint Framework) is one of the most common buzzwords in the SharePoint environment.
We’ve been helping enterprise companies leverage the power of SharePoint for over two decades. As the Office 365/SharePoint Lead for ISM, Inc., we’re always here to answer any questions you may have regarding your company’s strategy, architecture, and governance for implementation. Connect with me on LinkedIn.