Since we last wrote about SharePoint 2016, Microsoft – on January 20th – announced the release candidates (RC) for SharePoint Server 2016 and Project Server 2016, which are now available for download. This will be the final release of both the SharePoint and Project platforms in preview form before the full release in spring 2016. The Release Candidates have benefited from over 5,000 downloads of previous previews and the feedback gathered from these customers has helped to make these RCs high quality and largely feature complete. In fact, we don’t expect much change from now until the full release.
In this post we’ll take a look at what kind of updates and changes Microsoft has made from the Beta 2 versions, highlight some of the new available features along with other important details, and what it might mean for your enterprise.
Based on Microsoft’s latest Cloud capabilities and innovations, SharePoint Server 2016 is designed to make the most of your company’s ability to maintain crucial content and custom applications On-Premises, while also boasting performance via Office 365 with new, built-in Hybrid Cloud capabilities.
Microsoft puts it like this: “SharePoint Server 2016 is our most reliable, scalable, secure and high-performant server release ever.” But what does this mean in practice?
The RC for SharePoint Server 2016 focuses on the value added for both front and back end operators; IT admins, developers, as well as you and your team – the frequent, front end operators of the platform.
With the continued debate over what deployment option is most viable for your company, Microsoft has made it easier to devise a plan that suits you best. Your IT team can get the most out of On-Premises and Office 365 in combination if that proves the optimal fit. There are new features for the On-Premises solution, such as new access features, compliance features and new document library accessibility.
Enhance your security strength
SharePoint Server 2016 has improved its compliance and security features by simplifying configuration and administration, making it easier for your IT team to monitor access to sensitive corporate data by centralising authorisation and audit management. Plus, the platform supports a TLS 1.2 connection encryption by default.
Unified development experience
SharePoint Server 2016 supports a broad ecosystem across On-Premises and the Cloud, standardising set APIs and allowing you to boost developer productivity. Using simple yet effective API improvements you can make creating specific solutions easier, with the potential to reach a wider number of users.
Improved mobile access
SharePoint Server 2016 is designed with a working on-the-go philosophy behind it. There is improved mobile access to content and applications across multiple devices and screens, with a well thought out and consistent User Interface (UI) which makes moving from one device to another smooth and simple. Along with the improved UI, this iteration of the platform has simplified file storage and document collaboration, making it easier for your team to get more done whether in the office or on the road. With the Hybrid facilities via Office 365, even more productivity advantages can be accessed through Delve, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business.
Project Server 2016: bigger, better, more powerful
Along with the updates to the SharePoint Server 2016 RC, there are also new and improved features for the corresponding Project Server 2016 RC. Essentially, Project Server 2016 will have expanded capacity and resource management, which will enable greater transparency between both project planning and line planning.
What Microsoft has attempted to do with the new Project Server 2016 is create the foundation for better, more transparent resource management across your project management office (PMO). By documenting approvals and rejections between line and project managers, this will improve communication and resource management.
Speed up decision making
Heat maps, in Project Server 2016, are designed to enhance the decision making process in resource management and boost productivity. The ability to quickly see an overview of over- or under-allocation of resources at a glance makes the managing of large numbers of resources much easier to organize, as well as reducing planning time and bottlenecks.
Manage multiple timelines
Another new addition to the 2016 iteration of Project Server 2016 is the ability to work on multiple timelines for projects and display them in an intuitive and convenient way. Projects can be separated into main/entire projects as well as other tabs for sub-projects containing additional and important details. This allows managers to quickly distinguish between different stages of a project, while keeping a project overview at hand without it getting in the way and causing confusion.
Similar to the SharePoint Server 2016 RC, Project Server 2016 is designed with the potential for Cloud-integration. Mobile access is improved so that project managers can avail of working and managing projects on-the-go from multiple devices, as well as the enhanced collaboration for your entire team we have now come to expect from Office 365.
We can expect a few tweaks here and there between now and the full release in spring 2016, but the Release Candidates look likely to be operating as close as one can get to full power.