So what’s new in SharePoint 2013 that you should know about?

Following the recent product launch by Microsoft, we thought it would be useful to summarise what’s new in SharePoint 2013.

We see SharePoint 2013 as an evolutionary upgrade from SharePoint 2010, with a very heavy focus on trying (but not yet succeeding) to make the cloud offerings with the fourth coming upgrade to Office365, on a par with the on-premise versions. Cloud is the clearly where the bulk of the future investments Microsoft is making and where new functionality will primarily be introduced, (think Yammer integration – more on this in a future post), but for the short-term on-premise is still the platform that has all the features available and continues to allow greater administrative, business intelligence and integration capabilities.

Gone is the usual ‘pie’ diagram for explaining what the platform offers, (though the same core features from SharePoint 2010 remain). The familiar Microsoft ‘tiles’ you see across many of the other Windows products, are essentially the main themes for depicting and explaining SharePoint 2013 features and approaches.

SharePoint 2013 enterprise content management

 

SharePoint 2013 represents a new way to work together. New social capabilities make it easy to share ideas, keep track of what your colleagues are working on and help you find answers to questions and discover experts you never knew existed. A new and simplified user experience helps you organize, sync and share all your content, find what you’re looking for, and create sites to keep everyone in sync.

Below are a few of the headline feature updates we think you should know about.

What have we lost?

Some features have been depreciated from SharePoint 2010, but we don’t see these as a huge loss as many of these were seldom used. The features the product excels at within the document management space (driven via the underlying Foundation Services platform) continue to be there and have arguably been enhanced with a much improved user experience (more on this below).

The wider SharePoint server platform that utilises foundation at its heart, again remains largely the same in terms of core features. We’re not covering the major differences between the planned Office365 and that of on premise deployment in this post, other than to say they are closer than ever being on a par with each other. A couple of key exceptions we will mention however, these being ‘PerformancePoint Services’ and the ability to extend the new ‘FAST based search’ capabilities now built into SharePoint 2013 search by default, are not available or greatly reduced in new updates happening shortly to Office365 (within SharePoint online specifically). More on the finer details in a future post.

License Changes

The product continues to be split between the ‘free’ offering of Foundation Services (licensed to the Windows server, as well as SQL) and bigger ‘paid for’ SharePoint Server platform (licensed per server on top of Windows, as well as SQL).

There are some big changes in licensing for those wanting to use SharePoint for a public facing web site. There is no longer the external connector license and the ‘SharePoint for Internet sites’ licensing model has gone, with a much simplified structure for allowing external users on to your platform – see this post. There is still the concept of standard and enterprise CAL (client access license) for accessing the latter, but pay attention to the device specific licensing.

Be aware of prices increases from February 2013 for Microsoft licensing of SharePoint in general with circa 30-40% increases in some cases. Our advice here is to speak with your software license reseller for more details, because you may find some specific licensing deals for upgrades from old versions of SharePoint will reduce your fees here. Or contact us for more information.

As ever, licensing remains a bit of a ‘black art’, so do spend time on this in your business case preparation for any potential upgrade or new service.

Core product offerings

Undoubtedly there is a much improved user interface that makes the rendering of pages much smoother, quicker and frankly less ‘clunky’ to navigate and use day-to-day. The ability to drag and drop’ files into the document libraries will be welcome feature for many.

We still see the core features from before around business intelligence, forms and workflow, all of which have had some updates. Though not much in the way of changes for records management or infopath from our early usage.

Web content management has seen some major improvements in the way it handles a range of media content, ability to use external tools to create HTML, CSS and JS styles is a big plus, managed navigation and content by search web part are all new features bringing it up to speed now with many of its peers. With the changes in licensing mentioned above this improves SharePoint’s capacity to be used in public facing web site scenarios.

The new feature of ‘e-Discovery’ looks to be quite powerful, especially for the legal profession, which essentially allows you to create ‘cases’ files by content stored in Exchange, SharePoint and Lync using the powerful search capabilities. So one place for all material on ‘X’ be that in documents or email or conversation can be retrieved and actioned with ‘legal holds’.

SharePoint 2013 enterprise content management

FAST Search

What was a separate server product, (FAST Server Server 2010) has now been built into the core search offering across the platform, bringing a much welcome improvement to search experience. The document preview capabilities, advanced filtering and in general tight integration with Office applications, brings also much improved user experience and faster ways to find the content or source you are looking for. The constraint for single site collection search in Foundation Services remains however, meaning you can only search in that one location each time, and not across all of your site estate.

Search in SharePoint 2013

Mobile

The ability to create a device specific channels of content is now there, (think one web page for your iPad, one for your desktop PCs and also one for your Android or Windows phones),  reducing significantly the costs for providing content that will render properly in these devices. This will we think help in the public facing website and commerce sites. In general however the normal pages load well in most smartphone browsers, with an overall improvement in the support non IE browsers in place as well.

SharePoint 2013 mobileSocial

There continues to be a mysite offering with the server product, but the original product has been augmented with a ‘Facebook style’ timeline, that shows your interactions with others, documents and links within the platform. This is quite an engaging feature something some of our clients were asking for in SharePoint 2010. This is also very similar to the Yammer offerings, a product Microsoft bought last year, so expect big changes in the this space for the next version of SharePoint.

SharePoint social featuresSharePoint 2013 social

Offline working

Finally, the offline story has also changed. Gone is SharePoint Workspace and  in its place is SkyDrive Pro – not to be confused with the ‘free’ offering ‘SkyDrive’ from your Outlook.com account. This essentially is a tool which not only takes your SharePoint My Site ‘My documents’ folder entirely offline, it will also synchronise any other document library of your choosing. But unlike the Workspace product it will not sync normal lists. Note: SkyDrive Pro comes with Office 2013 or Office365, and will also work with Office 365 & SharePoint 2010 libraries (Workspace will continue to work with SharePoint 2013 sites). Here is how the SkyDrive Pro and SkyDrive windows app look like within your windows explorer.

SharePoint 2013 Skydrive Pro

Note: The ‘SharePoint 2013 icon is the ‘SkyDrive Pro folder, above my ‘Outlook SkyDrive’ icon shown on the image opposite.

Underneath the SkyDrive Pro icon are the folders I have synced from my Office 365 or SharePoint 2013 sites. All accessible from windows explorer, so it very easy to use. The ‘Personal Document’ folder, is actually my SharePoint 2013 ‘My Site/My documents’ folder.

Summary

The above are just the headlines of what is an exciting upgrade from Microsoft. As usual, if this raises any questions, feel free to post below or get in touch for more information.

Sources

Materials sourced from ©2013 Copyright SPC012 event in Las Vegas November 2012 or ©2013 Copyright WorkShares Ltd

 

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Introduction to the changes (simple view)

New licensing along with an updated product from Microsoft have recently been released. The below three images offers a very simplistic view of the key SharePoint 2013 licensing changes from that of the previous version.

Core SharePoint features

SharePoint 2013 licensing

For intranet scenarios

SharePoint 2013 licensing

For Extranet and Internet facing scenarios

SharePoint 2013 licensing

Conclusion

The clear change here is firstly the inclusion of FAST Server technologies within the core platform, (previously a separate server/costs), and secondly the removal of the additional licensing for internet facing sites (previously a separate set of licensing for non-staff accessing your environments.

It’s now a much more attractive platform to license for public facing web sites. As always, consult your software license vendor for the latest details and pricing. Pay particular attention to deals that might be available for upgrades from older versions of SharePoint.

If this article raises any questions, feel free to post below or get in touch for more information, as we know how daunting licensing SharePoint environments can be.

Sources

Materials sourced from © Microsoft 2013 SPC2012 event in Las Vegas November 2012 or ©2013 Copyright WorkShares Ltd

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The 2013 Nielsen report

Nielson’s 10 best intranets in 2013 annual report came out recently. It makes for an interesting read and the mix of entries in the top 10 continues to prove the wide appeal in general of Microsoft SharePoint as the preferred platform of choice, across differing industries, (Microsoft SharePoint accounts for 70% of the winner’s platform choice).

Top 10 best intranets in 2013 using sharepoint

Key findings of the 10 best intranets in 2013 report

  1. The trend of utilising external help for some or part of the process to design and launch a new intranet continues, with some 8 out of 10 of the winners using third parties to assist them. We think a balance mix of internal and external resources is a good thing, as it helps ensure the business needs are applied with an optimum solution via the technology being used. The obvious point here is that the skills and experience of a particular platform, are often not available internally.
  2. Involvement of content authors was deemed to be a clear lesson learned from the feedback obtained, which is not surprisingly as ultimately they will and should play a significant part helping you implement your adoption strategy in our view.Top 10 best intranets in 2013 using sharepoint
  3. Mega menus, video channels, personal profile pages and personalised home pages all featured high in future trends. Together with combining feeds from the social platforms of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, which shows the growing influence of external social mediums inside an organisation.
  4. Something we’ve also seen and is reported on is that companies are not specifically interested in developing a mobile specific version of their intranet. We think this is partly because most modern smartphone devices are able to handle content design for normal PC browsers, so therefore reducing the need for a specific device related channel to be created. It’s also frankly an additional cost that has questionable value for an intranet type application. Who really needs to view their full intranet on their phone? Whereas specific solutions, perhaps those on a public facing web portal may do very well offering mobile device focused user experience. Also, it may be sufficient for RSS feeds to be enabled on particular types of content (News and Announcements for example) so that a user can view via a mobile device instead.


In summary

The report speaks positively about the impact and upward trend of Microsoft SharePoint and its use by many of this year’s entries. As the entries would have all been done with SharePoint 2010, and with the many improvements in the latest version just released (SharePoint 2013), it’s pretty clear that SharePoint will feature highly again on the top 10 best intranets report this time around next year.

Maybe some of the SharePoint 2013 based solutions we are involved with right now will be on the nominees list!

Do get in touch if your organisation would like to hear more on how SharePoint 2013 can be used within your organisation, be that to upgrade from an existing SharePoint environment and or to introduce a completely new capability using its new features.

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