SharePoint 2016: The Inside Story

This small write-up is based on the Presentation made by Bill Baer on “BRK2188 – What’s New for IT Professionals in SharePoint Server 2016” in Ignite Conference ended recently.

In this presentation Bill explained a lot of Enhancements & Improvements in SharePoint 2016, the Public Preview of which is going to hit the market soon. I have compiled the Key Takeaways under different categories as mentioned below-

Release Timeline Milestones

Regarding the release timeline, there are 3 milestones:

  • Q4 2015 – Public Beta (Beta 1)
  • Q1 2016 – Release Candidate
  • Q2 2016 – Final Version (RTM)

Hardware & Software Requirements

Hardware requirements are mostly the same as we have in SharePoint 2013:

  • Memory: For Single Server Deployment Scenarios it should be 16-24 GB. For Multi Server Deployment Scenarios it should be 12-16 GB
  • CPU: For either of the Deployment Scenarios it should be x64 Bits, 1 Quad Core
  • HDD: For either of the Deployment Scenarios it should be 80 GB

Software requirements have got a couple of changes:

  • Operating Systems : Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 10
  • Database Server: SQL Server 2014 or SQL Server 201x (VNext)
  • .Net Framework:5.2 if running on Windows Server 2012 R2 or 4.5.6 if running on Windows Server 10

Other Prerequisites:

  • Windows Management Framework 3.0
  • Application Server Role
  • Web Server (IIS) Role
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5.2
  • Update for the .NET Framework 4 (KB2898850)
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Native Client
  • Microsoft Identity Extensions
  • Microsoft Sync Framework Runtime v1.0 SP1 (x64)
  • Windows Server AppFabric 1.1
  • Windows Identity Foundation v1.1
  • Microsoft Information Protection and Control Client
  • Microsoft WCF Data Services

Deployment Scenarios

Unsupported Scenarios:

  • Deployments on Workgroup is not supported
  • Deployments on Client OS is not supported
  • Deployments with Dynamic Memory is not supported
  • Deployments on Windows Web Server is not Supported
  • Deployments in Standalone mode (Mode with In-Built SQL Server Express) is not supported

Supported Scenarios:

  • Deployments on Domain Controller is supported but recommended only for Development/Evaluation or Small Farms Scenarios
  • Deployment with Single Server Farm recommended only for Development/Evaluation Scenarios

Roles & Services

With SharePoint 2016 Microsoft introduces a new concept “MinRole” that governs the notion of processing a User Request End To End by a specific server. Based on the type of requests, these Roles and Services are broadly categorized under following categories:

  • User Services: All requests initiated by Users fall under this category. For example- Excel Services, User Profile, OneNote, Sync Clients, User Code (Sandbox Code), Project and so on.
  • Robot Services: All Automated, Scheduled Jobs fall under this category .For example- Timer Jobs, Search Applications and so on
  • Caching Services: All requests regarding Cache Management Scenarios and sometimes can hold up Request Management Scenarios as well. For example- Caching Services

MinRole Roles & Services are implemented as follows:

  • WebFrontEnd: This Role falls under “User Services” so this role is meant to serve End User Request. Servers assigned to this role are optimized for low latency. Services complying with this role are:
    • Access Services
    • Business Data Connectivity
    • Central Administration
    • Managed Metadata
    • Secure Store Service
    • State Management
    • Subscription Settings
    • User Code
    • User Profile
    • Visio Graphics
    • SharePoint Foundation Web Application
  • Application: This Role falls under “Robot Services” so this role is meant to serve backend jobs or Servers assigned to this role are optimized for low latency. Servers assigned to this role are optimized for high throughput. Services complying with this role are:
    • Crawl
    • Machine Translation
    • PowerPoint Conversion
    • User Profile Synchronization
    • Word Automation
    • Workflow Timer Service
    • SharePoint Foundation Web Application
  • Specialized Load: This is special type of role to support Random Role Assignments as per business requirements like we have in SharePoint 2013. Recommended for Deployment of Isolated Services like 3rd Party Applications etc. This Role is not accounted by Health Checkup Analyzer as this is exempted in the Product Code Base of SharePoint 2016. Services complying with this role are:
    • Excel Calculation
    • PerfomancePoint
    • Project
    • Search
    • SharePoint Foundation Web Application
  • DistributedCache: This Role falls under “Caching Services” so this role is meant to distributed cache for the farm. Servers assigned to this role can load balance end user requests among the Web Front Ends. Services complying with this role are:
    • Distributed Cache
    • Request Management
    • SharePoint Foundation Web Application


Role Enforcement and Health:

  • SharePoint Health Analyzer has new Health Checkup Rules running on Daily Basis checking for the Topology Compliance
  • This Health Rule will run Daily and scan all the servers in the farm except server assigned to “Specialized Load” Role
  • The Code Base for this Health Rule compares the Service Instances on each server with the Role assigned to it and verify if the server comply with expected Topology recommendations from Microsoft. If Server doesn’t comply with the expected Topology recommendations, in health analyzer we can see the option to fix it directly from there.

Upgrade & Migration

  • Upgrade from SharePoint 2010 (UI Mode 14 or 14.5) and SharePoint 2015 (UI Mode 15): Upgrading to SharePoint 2016 will only be supported from SharePoint 2013. If you’re still using SharePoint 2010 or a previous version, you’ll first have to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 and your site collection will have to be converted to 15 mode before you can upgrade to SharePoint 2016.
  • Upgrade via Database Attach: The upgrade is done via the database attach process, so nothing new here.
  • Migration: You can also choose to migrate content from a previous version of SharePoint using one of the available third party software applications.


Small Patch Size with no downtime:

  • Patches and updates will have a smaller footprint and will not require any downtime.
  • As with most of the new features, the new patching process was developed for SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2016 will now benefit from the lessons learned from managing SharePoint in the cloud.
  • In SharePoint 2013 an update is comprised of 37 packages and an additional 18 packages for each installed language pack.
  • In SharePoint 2016, an update is comprised of just 4 packages, plus 1 extra package for each installed language pack.

 Boundaries and Limits

In SharePoint 2016, here are the main improvements on different thresholds values:

  • Content Databases: Supports content databases with TBs (specific number is not yet defined). In SharePoint 2013 Size should not be more than 200GB per content database.
  • Site Collections: Supports 100,000 site collections per content database. In SharePoint 2013 this limit was 10,000 site collections per content database.
  • List Items: List item threshold will be over 5,000 items although no specific number is not defined yet.
  • Max File Size powered by BITS Protocol + Cobalt Protocol + Shredded Storage: Max file size is now 10GB and there won’t be character restrictions. Earlier it was 2GB in SharePoint 2013 with character restrictions. This file size is supported to be Uploaded or Downloaded is powered by combination of BITS Protocol (which is newly introduced in SharePoint 2016), Cobalt Protocol and Shredded Storage.
  • Search Indexing: Search index can now scale to to hold upto 500 million items which was 250 million items in SharePoint 2013’s search index

Performance and Reliability Enhancements

Some of these improvements were brought to SharePoint 2016 which is expected to support a four-9s availability level (99.99%):

  • Server role optimizations
  • Zero downtime patching strategy
  • Improved distributed cache reliability
  • Traffic management with intelligent routing and server health checks

Major Performance/Reliability/Flexibility improvements that can be seen in SharePoint 2016:

  • New File Management Protocols: SharePoint 2010 introduced the Cobalt protocol. With Cobalt, when a document is being edited and the user saves it, only the modified portion of the file is sent by the client application to the server, greatly reducing the amount of data transmitted between client and server. However, the server still has to fetch the whole document from the database and merge the existing content with the user changes before saving the whole document back to the content database. SharePoint 2013 brought the Shredded Storage mechanism which allows documents to be stored in small pieces in the content database. Because documents are already “shredded” in the database, the server does not have to fetch the whole document to merge the original contents with the changes, which reduces the server processing overhead. SharePoint 2016 adds BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) protocol which will improve upload and download speeds and resiliency.
  • “Fast Site Creation“– A new Site Collection creation process: The new site collection creation process leverages the Copy method to clone a pre-configured site collection template at the content database level. This process avoids the overhead of feature activation since the features are already activated in the source site collection.
  • SMTP Connection Encryption: With the implementation of new “STARTTLS” connection encryption that supports sending mails to SMTP Servers on default or non-default ports. Earlier with till SharePoint 2013, only Default Port (25) was supported for SMTP Communications but now it is possible to choose any available port with the new “STARTTLS” connection encryption
  • User Profile Service: In SharePoint 2016 Bidirectional Synchronization has now been improved by removing built-in FIM Services and adding support for External FIM Service. 
  • Integrated Project Server: SharePoint 2016 included built-in Project Server with licensing controlled through Server/User Licensing


  • Support for ODF Format: SharePoint 2016 included support for ODF Format in Document Libraries where documents can now be saved in ODF Format and then can be edited in with program of choice.

 UI Improvements

SharePoint 2016 looks and feels mostly like the current version of SharePoint Online (in Office 365), but a few improvements were made to the UI, namely:

  • Authoring Canvas: New Authoring Canvas, a new and modern way to create content for a web page using a Sway-like user experience
  • Durable Links: Support for Durable Links which allows documents to be moved while keeping the URL intact, because it is based on a resource ID

Cloud Accelerated Experiences

One of the most touted new features of SharePoint 2016 is the support for cloud accelerated experiences or, in other words, the ability to surface features that are only available in the cloud, using a hybrid scenario:

  • Compliance: Compliance and data loss prevention (DLP) across cloud and on-premises. Sensitive Data can be Identified, Monitored and Protected through deep content analysis.
  • Cloud Search Service Application: Cloud search service application which unifies the on-premises and cloud search indexes and provides support for Office Graph / Delve experiences on-premises. As per plan this service will be available to SharePoint 2013 also by the end of this year
  • Distributed team sites: Distributed team sites across SharePoint 2016 and Office 365
  • Hybrid deployment: Hybrid deployment automation guided by UI-based configuration


  • SharePoint 2016 is still a year away which means some features are liable to change, improve and could be some more to be added by the time RTM Version is released next year.
  • Hybrid scenarios are easier than ever to deploy

Hope you find it helpful.

2 thoughts on “SharePoint 2016: The Inside Story

  1. Pingback: SharePoint 2016: The Inside Story | Implantação de Sistemas, SharePoint, Human Change e muito mais!

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