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Why Upgrade to SharePoint 2016?

Microsoft announced general availability of SharePoint 2016 back in May 2016.  Since then a number of our customers have inquired on why they should upgrade to 2016.  In this multi-part blog series, I’ll try to cover all the new features of SharePoint 2016 and present a case for why you would want to invest in SharePoint 2016.

SharePoint 2016 is not a new release.  Microsoft delivered SharePoint 2016 from SharePoint Online branch of code.  Because it is derived from SharePoint Online release branch, they have addressed many scalability issues making it the most tested version of SharePoint.  This testing has been done over the number of years in the Office 365 platform as opposed to weeks of testing that is usually done with a standard on-premises release.   This makes SharePoint 2016 an extremely high quality and resilient release.

There are three core pillars of SharePoint 2016:

  • Cloud-inspired infrastructure
  • Modern user experience
  • Compliance


Let’s discuss what we mean by cloud-inspired infrastructure.   As Bill Baer,  Sr. Product Manager for the SharePoint pointed out, SharePoint 2016 is first and foremost an infrastructure release.   In the past Microsoft had two ways to do things.  One for on-premises and one for the cloud, and it created many inefficiencies.   Now they have decided to converge code bases to create one unified codebase.

In other words, now there is one way to do everything SharePoint.  Microsoft took the features and capabilities that made sense in the cloud and delivered them on premises.   In cases, where certain capabilities could not be delivered, on-premises are available through a much improved hybrid experience such as Hybrid Search.  We will cover hybrid features in much more detail in the subsequent blog post.

In order to make this happen, Microsoft had to make some architectural decisions when it comes to infrastructure.  SharePoint Team has evolved on how it delivers updates.   Instead of a team working for years on a new release, updates are released in a true DevOps fashion.   Microsoft now delivers updates as a feature pack model that provides cumulative updates to deliver innovations to customers more rapidly.   In addition, innovative enhancements such as zero-downtime patching delivers value without bringing servers down.

All of this is great news for customers as it not only provides them value quicker but also provides them the flexibility to turn features on and off according to their timeline.   It also makes this release of SharePoint “future proof” as all the new innovations can be delivered on-premises easily or consumed through a simplified hybrid experience.

In order to streamline deployment, there are also standardizations on how servers are built and provisioned for scale.   In addition to zero-downtime patching, there is another new enhancement called MinRole which simplifies on-premises server farm deployment.  MinRole allows administrators to select the appropriate server role for a specific server based on preconfigured configurations.  For details on predefined server roles see here.

In addition to streamlined deployments, and performance improvements as a result of that, it is also worth mentioning a number of  improvements in terms of scalability as can be seen in the list below.

  • Search:  2x increase in search items – 500 million items per search server application
  • List Views: 2x increase in list views thresholds (> 5000)
  • Site Collections and sites: 5x increase in site collections and sites. (100, 000 site collections per content database)
  • Content Databases: 5x times increase in content database sizing into TBs instead of GBs
  • File Size: 5x increase in file size limit to 10G per file


With SharePoint Server 2016 hybrid, productivity services in SharePoint Online can be integrated with on-premises SharePoint Server 2016 to provide unified functionality and access to data.

In my subsequent blogs, I’ll cover what does a SharePoint Hybrid solution looks like as well as cover the other 2 core pillars namely modern use experience and compliance.