SharePoint 2016: A technical view

Chris Redman takes a look at the technical changes and performance improvements to the new 2016 SharePoint release.

Chris Grosberg, recently took a look at the key new features of the upcoming SharePoint 2016 release. In this article, I'll be looking specifically at the technical improvements, which are likely to be of interest to technically-focused IT professionals.

As Chris said, this new release of SharePoint sees fewer drastic changes compared to what we’ve seen in previous main releases, such as the UI refresh and Workflow rework in the 2013 release. Instead we see SharePoint 2016 as the release that will allow organisations to better align themselves for a hybrid solution with Office 365 or SharePoint online.

However, looking under the hood, there are some interesting technical and performance improvements to report on.


Compliance and Data Loss Prevention

SharePoint 2016 now includes the Compliance Centre functionality as featured on Office 365. This helps administrators retain control over content by defining policies that are applied against the environment. The In-Place Hold policy allows administrators to preserve content, whereas the document deletion policy allows content to be deleted on a time basis. For example, a basic rule can be defined to delete content in OneDrive for Business sites after a set amount of years.

Data Loss Prevention capabilities introduce the ability to define rules and policies to protect sensitive data such as payment card numbers and NI numbers from being shared within defined sites. Any documents breaching a policy rule will be blocked from view by users, and an email sent out informing the author of the issue.

SMTP Connection Encryption

STARTTLS encryption can now be used for outgoing mail, which means improved security for emails sent by SharePoint. Additionally, the SMTP service can now be configured to run on a non-default SMTP port number.


Zero Downtime Patching

Microsoft have promised that patching SharePoint 2016 servers will be possible without taking them offline, which is music to the ears for anyone involved in patching SharePoint environments. The patching process should also be simplified in general with much smaller sized patches and install files.


SharePoint 2016 introduces the MinRole feature. Essentially this allows a role to be defined to each server in the farm, such as ’Front-End‘, ’Application‘, ’Search‘ etc. SharePoint then acts as a marshal and will report any instances where a service is running on the wrong type of server role.

When a server is introduced to the farm and assigned a role, SharePoint will start all the services required to fulfil this role. This approach allows for farm administrators to concentrate on what services are enabled at the farm level, rather than each individual server. This leads to much simpler deployments as SharePoint automatically configures the additional servers. It also means that misconfigurations are highlighted to administrators.

Miscellaneous & Performance

Fast Site Collection Creation

The Site Collection creation process now works more at the database level by making use of Site Master Templates. This means there are fewer round trips between the SharePoint and SQL servers, which results in much improved Site Collection creation time.

Increased boundaries and limits

Some smaller changes which will affect SharePoint users more directly include:-

  • Filenames on SharePoint 2016 now support the previously restricted &,#,{ and} characters
  • SharePoint Server 2016 now supports the uploading and downloading of files larger than 2GB
  • Indexes on list columns are automatically managed, meaning performance is improved and the default 5000 items view threshold will be avoided
  • Limits are also increasing for the maximum number of site collections in a content database. The content database maximum size is also expected to increase to somewhere in the TB range, rather than the current 200GB.

System Requirements

Hardware requirements are unchanged from SharePoint 2013 – a relief considering the existing monster requirements! However, Operating System requirements have changed; SharePoint 2016 requires Windows Server 2012 R2 or the upcoming Windows Server 2016 – something to factor in to any upgrade costing.

Do you have any questions about SharePoint 2016? Drop me an email at or give me a call – 0345 094 094 5.

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