Microsoft Ignite 2016: The Signposts Are Everywhere!

When KnowledgeLake asked me to attend Microsoft Ignite 2016, I jumped at the opportunity. I have spent the last several years monitoring the progress of the “Microsoft Message” at SharePoint Conferences and as the years passed, I have generally seen small evolutionary changes. But when I last attended one of these mega-conferences, the message was very different and very loud, cloud would one day rule the world. But how Microsoft would take us there was as muddy as the Mississippi river. That has changed now as the directional signposts are everywhere you look in the Microsoft stack.

Signpost #1 – The Interstate: Microsoft FastTrack

Microsoft FastTrack is an Engineering led initiative at Microsoft to on-ramp large organizations to Office 365 as quickly and efficiently as possible. The goal is to help organizations merge onto the interstate headed to Office 365 by moving primary business processes and workloads to the cloud as quickly as possible. This process starts with a migration of existing content “usage” to Office 365. This typically involves a migration from on premise Exchange and SharePoint to Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. But it may also include migrations from Box, file shares or even Google Calendar.

This is a noble idea but there are a ton of caveats baked into FastTrack. There is heavy reliance on internal IT Staff to take care of a lot of pre-requisites before a move can take place. IT shops are often overloaded and they are thinking about a move to the cloud because they don’t have enough time to maintain existing systems. I hope Microsoft can continue to streamline guidance for customers and help them. Also, customizations will hinder a FastTrack engagement. FastTrack is meant to move content quickly. But an on premise SharePoint environment with any level of customizations will quickly toss up road blocks to what is otherwise a free FastTrack migration. These engagements will probably require some level of consulting from Microsoft Consulting Services or from another provider of Migration Services like KnowledgeLake.

Signpost #2 – The Highway: The Wonderful World of SharePoint 2016 OR 2013 Hybrid

Last year, I attended SPTechCon in Boston. This conference was kicked off with a keynote from a Microsoft Product Manager who set the record straight on the cloud story. From 2014 to 2015, Microsoft had pushed cloud so hard that they were getting backlash from customers who weren’t ready. It was the first time I heard there would actually be a vNext of SharePoint (2016). Microsoft pulled back on the reigns and began investing in ways that would ease customers into the cloud in a more comfortable way. The concept of Hybrid on premise / cloud really began to take flight.

That direction has evolved into a strong proposition for many organizations. The interesting thing isn’t that SharePoint 2016 is really good at hybrid. One of the biggest takeaways was that SharePoint 2013 is ALSO getting really good at hybrid! Basically, if your organization is on SharePoint 2013 already, Microsoft wants you to feel comfortable sticking with it! They are back-filling a large number of the SharePoint 2016 improvements into SharePoint 2013 to ensure the hybrid story is just as good as SharePoint 2016! This alleviates strain on IT resources and ultimately, gets you dipping your toe into all that Office 365 has to offer immediately.

Signpost #3 – The County Road: A-la-carte and the Ever Expanding Office 365

Microsoft is continuously innovating the Office 365 product suite. Powerful new feature sets like the Office Graph, Delve, Sway and Planner have been added to existing core services. Microsoft is adding features and functions to Office 365 so organizations don’t have to fill in gaps with custom code solutions. It’s all about value proposition and ROI. It’s clear the plan is to get customers to see so much value in each of the individual components that eventually, the benefits of moving their organization’s workloads into the entire Office 365 suite will be obvious.

Microsoft Cloud at Your Own Speed

The bottom line is this: Microsoft has heard you. You don’t want cloud crammed down your throat and you don’t want to feel that if you stay on premise, your organization will be left behind. The result is the Microsoft Cloud story isn’t scary anymore. It is there to use in a way that’s comfortable to YOUR organization. Yes, all roads are leading to the cloud. But you don’t have to worry about deciding between getting hit by a bus when you merge onto the interstate or watching from the bench as the train leaves the station. Microsoft will meet you where you are with Office 365 and Azure.

 

Unsure Where to Go Next? Contact KnowledgeLake!

We love addressing the toughest business challenges associated with managing documents for organizations. If you are unsure of how to take your first step in adopting Office 365 or SharePoint Online, call us…we have the experts that can advise you on your best path to the Microsoft Cloud.
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