Microsoft Rolls Out Office Graph at SharePoint 2014 Conference

With the 2014 SharePoint Conference in Vegas wrapped up it left in its trail many new features, capabilities and updates that the SharePoint customer base must now consider or incorporate. Many are long awaited expansions of the integration of SharePoint and Office 365, many are further moves towards more robust cloud-based services.

One example is the availability of Service Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2013 for download. SP1 is reported to have several improvements to the web-based content management and collaboration tools valued by their enterprise customer base. One feature is aimed at making it easier for on-premise deployments to get started in the cloud. To quote the “Office Blogs”, “With SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1, you can connect your on-premises SharePoint 2013 servers to the cloud and to turn on OneDrive for Business or Yammer as the first workloads in the cloud and run those alongside existing SharePoint investments.”

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“But we [Microsoft] wanted to go one step farther. So today, we are introducing a new very attractive priced OneDrive for Business Standalone offer. If you aren’t already using OneDrive for Business – now is the time to take your first step to embracing the cloud.”

Jeff Teper, Corporate VP at Microsoft showcased the larger picture piecing together these many new features and integration dynamics in his keynote address to the roughly 10,000 customers and partners in attendance.

“Today, the world has become a giant network where connections make information more relevant and people more productive. Most companies, however, are not working like a network, which we believe is vital for their ability to improve collaboration and respond to customers, competition and market changes,” Teper said. “The new Office 365 experiences powered by cloud, social, mobile and big data technologies enable people and teams to find the right connections and most relevant insights to get more done.”

One new tool rolled out was Office Graph, a new Office 365 intelligence fabric that remains unseen to the user but is constantly analyzing content, interactions and activity streams and mapping the relationships using machine learning to intelligently connect and surface the most relevant content to each user.

Office Graph will be the pathway that provides a whole new set of user experiences including a feature code-named “Oslo” which Microsoft describes as “A new application powered by the Office Graph and code-named “Oslo” was previewed onstage. It uses personal interactions and machine learning to surface a view of the most relevant, timely information for each individual using Office 365 across SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, Yammer and Office.”

Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst, Constellation Research commented that “Many organizations struggle with bringing together their content creation, collaboration and core business applications. Today’s Office Graph and ‘Oslo’ announcements describe an integrated future that could greatly improve the way Microsoft Office 365 users will get their work done, with easily discovered insights about important activity across their organizations that personally affect or may be interesting to them.”

With SharePoint still having one of the largest user bases in the industry it appears from the conference they are going forward with expanding the power, reach and mobility of these platforms. For current SharePoint owners successfully employing these new functions and educating an end-user-base in their use may require outside expertise to aid them. For smaller businesses this can be a costly proposition but it need not be if they work with companies who have North American based project managers but lower cost experts and outsourced personnel that can be called upon to make necessary changes to current deployments of SharePoint.

Without a doubt Microsoft is flexing all of its cloud muscle and is building a bridge for on-premise users to maximize their current investment in SharePoint by providing tools to connect them to critical cloud services. With this being a pivotal year, companies considering the enhancements shouldn’t take too long to begin catching up, given the speed with which these technologies are evolving.

Author’s Note: This is an article written for a client in the IT and Application Development industry.

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