The year 2016 is coming to an end. And for everyone who predicted SharePoint hybrid as future in past 3 years, the future is here (almost). And enterprises have also learned that the barriers to the hybrid cloud are more numerous than originally anticipated. However, it’s important to do some reflection and introspection on where the hybrid SharePoint implementation is today.
Adoption: Interest and consumption are beginning to ramp up quickly. Enterprises who, earlier had goals to move all in a cloud are now considering a hybrid approach towards using SharePoint. Several migrations to Office 365 initiatives have failed drastically and made their way as the staple diet for discussions at various competition conferences and whitepapers. As a result, IT leaders are making a rapid shift in the direction of public cloud by adopting hybrid cloud for their SharePoint implementation. The combination of private and public cloud gives IT the tools required to help the business innovate and iterate faster at a lower cost.
Governance: The most common policy discussion that required consensus from governance board was data protection vs extending SharePoint over the internet. Just like vim vs emacs, there were always two sides to this discussion whether SharePoint should be served over VPN or should the infrastructure be made available on DMZ for easy access or publish SharePoint over web application proxy. Each side has a stronger business case; right from a sales director citing the pathetic performance of applications over VPN vs a finance controller worried about his excel sheets leaving the very secure boundaries of their internal data center. With SharePoint 2016 hybrid, a third option as emerged as a solution and it is now easy for organizations to determine which content can be made available over cloud vs what remains on premise. The boundaries for content and their availability over search are clearly articulated.
Optimized use of Infrastructure – With 1 TB available with each OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online Site Collections storing TB of content and Videos for storing rich media content, IT managers are now able to establish an optimized storage and compute utilization plan to store low function high storage content on cloud while retaining content that has legal, compliance or business critical applications with security and performance demands can be hosted on an on-premise environment. In addition to this, with the zero downtime patching for SharePoint 2016 and managed releases for Office 365 SharePoint Online, it is easier than before the meet the Service Level Agreements for SharePoint based solutions.
Search – Content findability has always been a challenge for most of the SharePoint Implementations. Even though in SharePoint 2013, enterprises could configure hybrid search, the results weren’t encouraging with multiple search result sets that were not commingled. The relevance was different and so was user experience. With SharePoint 2016, the search has been re-architected and these issues have been addressed.
The hybrid infrastructure does provide best of both the worlds. Combining these two cloud models leverages cost efficiencies and also builds resilience into a solution.
To achieve the Hybrid model and gain some of the benefits listed above, the core architecture for Office 365 and SharePoint On-Premises needs to be understood.
SharePoint 2016 Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure
The core logical design is about connecting your On-Premises Active Directory with the Azure Active Directory that is available. This ensures that accounts are synchronized and licenses from the cloud services can be assigned. Once done then the On-Premises environment needs to be connected through standard network connectivity. Once SharePoint 2016 on-premise is configured with SharePoint Online, the users would be able to manage the following hybrid workloads.
So based on where we are, the future (Hybrid) has already arrived. But where do we go from here? What is the future of Hybrid ? With enterprises moving to Azure to host their SharePoint 2016 farm, will they continue to be true hybrid ? Or the hybrid would no longer differentiate between on-premise data center, public cloud & private cloud, but it would just be a combination of IAAS, PAAS & SAAS based solutions hosted across infrastructures.
And if you are interested in defining your SharePoint Hybrid Strategy, please reach out to me using the contact me page.
As a SharePoint Online user, you would have come across instances where you wanted to share content with external users.
Who are external users?
An external user is someone outside of your organization who can access your SharePoint Online sites and documents but does not have a license for your SharePoint Online or Microsoft Office 365 subscription. External users are not employees, contractors, or onsite agents for you or your affiliates.
What external features sharing are available in SharePoint Online?
Office 365 provides the following features for external sharing functionality to align with your organization’s governance policy at various levels.
- Tenant Level – SharePoint Online provides ability to turn external sharing off at tenant level. This means, no document, site or site collection can be shared externally. Yes, this also includes OneDrive for Business
- Individual Site Collection Level – This provides ability to turn external sharing on or off for specific site collections.
- Authenticated Users Only – This provides ability to turn on external sharing only to authenticated users via Microsoft Account or Work (or School) Account.
- Guest (Anonymous) Users – This is the lowest level of external sharing where all user needs is a guest link to authenticate them to access the content you have shared with them.
Using any of the above method, an external user can (based on access levels provided)
- View and edit documents.
- Perform tasks on sites, list and library. E.g. CRUD operation.
- View and change any additional content on that tenant that has been shared with them.
However, there are actions that an external user cannot perform.
- Create Mysites & manage their profile.
- Perform site collection administrator functions.
- Use Search Centre or site wide search functionality.
- Access features like PowerBI, Data Connection Libraries and eDiscovery
- Visio Services
How to use external Sharing ?
External sharing is turned on by default. If your organizations governance policy doesn’t permit external sharing at all, you can turn it off from here. Else, select one of the option below.
- If external sharing is turned off for the entire SharePoint Online environment, you will not be able to turn it on for specific site collections.
- If external sharing is turned off globally in the SharePoint Online Admin center, any shared links will stop working. If the feature is later reactivated, these links will resume working. It is also possible to disable individual links that have been shared if you want to permanently revoke access to a specific document.
- If you change the external sharing settings for the My Site site collection, these changes will also apply to any existing or newly created personal sites (formerly called My Sites).
- Sharing settings on the –my site site collection (e.g., https://contoso-my.sharepoint.com) will apply to the OneDrive for Business sites for all users of the organization. You cannot selectively manage sharing for a particular user’s OneDrive for Business site.
|If you want to
||Select this option
||For this result
|Prevent all users on all sites from sharing sites or content with external users.
||Don’t allow sharing outside your organization
||· Users will not be able to share sites or content with users who do not have licenses to your Office 365 subscription.
· External sharing cannot be turned on for any individual site collections.
|Require external users who have received invitations to view sites or content to sign-in with a Microsoft account before they can access the content.
||Allow external users who accept sharing invitations and sign in as authenticated users
||· Site owners or others with full control permission can share sites with external users.
· All external users will be required to sign in before they can view content.
· Invitations to view content can be redeemed only once. After an invitation has been accepted, it cannot be shared or used by others to gain access.
|Allow site users to share sites with people who sign in as authenticated users, but you also want to allow site users to be able to share documents through the use of anonymous guest links, which do not require invited recipients to sign in.
||· Site owners or others with full control permissions can share sites with external users.
· All external users will be required to sign in before they can view content on a site that has been shared.
· Site owners or others with full control permissions can share documents and opt to require sign-in, or send an anonymous guest link for documents.
· When site users share a document, they can grant external users either view or edit permissions to the document.
· External users who receive anonymous guest links can view or edit that content without signing in.
· Anonymous guest links could potentially be forwarded or shared with other people, who might also be able to view or edit the content without signing in.
External user sharing can be very useful but at the same time can take a toll on your governance process because.
- There is no global way to see list of all the sites which an external user has access.
- There is no global way to see list of all documents that have been shared externally.
While you can’t do this in SharePoint Online, you can use the Compliance Search feature in the Compliance Centre to do both of these things, by using the ViewableByExternalUsers property in a search query.
To summarize, external sharing is very effective way to collaborate with users outside your organization. Classicisation of content by providing policies and guidelines should help you leverage this feature to the best of its abilities. If you are interested in establishing governance for your Office 365 implementation, feel free to get in touch with me through my contact me page.
As a SharePoint user, do you ever wish to have a seamless navigation across the sites and content repositories on your SharePoint site? As a SharePoint Administrator, do you want to accelerate end user adoption with easy and intuitive navigation bundled with quick search? SharePoint is a popular content management system used by more than million users worldwide. And as the enterprise adoption has increased, so are the complexity of content repositories within SharePoint. End users and Administrators are always lookout for add-ins and solutions to simplify their user experience and increase user adoption. Thus FlyView for SharePoint Enterprise should be your solution of choice for seamless navigation across sites and content repositories.
In this blog post, I would review the product and its capabilities by installing and configuring this product on my own SharePoint Online site.
FlyView for SharePoint is an Aurora Bits product for Microsoft SharePoint platform that helps users with improved productivity by reducing the time they spend navigating and discovering content. FlyView for SharePoint is a unique and innovative tool as it can create a lighting fast, global navigation menu at run-time for any SharePoint site. The FlyView Enterprise for SharePoint is installed on SharePoint server/site collection in SharePoint Online, 2016/2013/2010 and displays a dynamic site menu when a user logs in, enabling the users to explore the entire SharePoint Site without having a single mouse click. It supports all major browsers such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Firefox etc. The solution will create Breadcrumbs and Navigation in your browser. The term enterprise in the product clearly shows the focus of the product team to be used within Enterprise SharePoint installation by eliminating browser dependency and focusing on standardized methods.
FlyView Enterprise for SharePoint appears on the top left section of the browser after the menu and by default show the root site. I have seen absolutely no difference in page load time with or without using this add in.
As I hover over the root site, it quickly displays the sites and other content repositories within the root site, and as you hover in the sub sites, it would expand the content repositories with them. All this was pretty fast and seamless. The icons next to the content repository names provides clear demarcation between subsites, lists and libraries.
The navigation quickly allows you to navigate from the highest level of content repository (site collection) to lowest level (content). And it doesn’t restrict you to default view. You can have option to select the view you want to see.
Pinning allows you to handle multiple content by pinning them on the screen. When you click on the blue icon next to a document, you can pin the content or mark as favorite. Pinning the content on the screen allows you to multi manage content properties. Very helpful.
Last, but not the very least is search. This is not your traditional enterprise search for content. But search for content repositories as depicted in the example below. I am trying to search for a payroll for November 2015 which by my naming standards is saved in “Nov15” folder.
FlyView Enterprise for SharePoint allows you to view your history and content marked as favorite by hovering over the FlyView icon on the top left. This would allow you to create your own shortcuts to document by marking the content as favorite and review the history.
In a nutshell, this product shows very promising features that can both accelerate user adoption and increase productivity. The product team has meticulously identified end users pain point with respect to navigation and content search. If you would like to see the product in action, feel free to choose from the following.
- You can visit Aurora Bits site for more product details.
- View the FlyView Enterprise for SharePoint product demo video.
- Download a demo of Trial version of FlyView Enterprise for SharePoint.
- Request a live preview of Contoso site from here.
I would conclude my review with few pointers from my side that should answer any questions you have
- Security – FlyView Enterprise for SharePoint uses logged in user context. It does not save any access credentials.
- Content Access – FlyView Enterprise for SharePoint cannot manipulate or delete your content or changes any SharePoint configuration.
- Performance – FlyView Enterprise for SharePoint is lightweight and performs well given the reasonable number of Sites, Sub Sites and content.