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SharePoint 2016 Preview Gets System Center Boost

Microsoft recently rolled out a preview of a new Management Pack for System Center 2012 Operations Manager that supports the newly released SharePoint Server 2016 IT preview.

This Management Pack preview can be used to test SharePoint Server 2016 operations. It monitors various SharePoint Server 2016 components, such as services, server performance, and events associated with SharePoint's use of Internet Information Services and SQL Server.

The Management Pack preview requires having Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 in place "with Full-Text Search feature" capabilities, according to Microsoft's announcement. Support on Windows Server 2012 wasn't described at the download page for the Management Pack preview.

Azure VM Image
Microsoft also announced last week that it made its SharePoint Server 2016 IT preview available via the Azure virtual machine gallery. Testers can grab the image from there if they have an Azure account.

One benefit of using the Azure virtual machine image of the SharePoint Server 2016 IT preview is that it comes with the prerequisites preinstalled. The preview will expire on Feb. 23, 2016, giving testers about five months of testing time.

SharePoint Insights Service
In related SharePoint Server 2016 news, Bill Baer, senior technical product manager on the Microsoft's SharePoint team, described a new "Microsoft SharePoint Insights" service during an IT Unity talk on Friday. The Insights feature uses Microsoft's telemetry capabilities to surface company-specific reports about SharePoint Server 2016 use for review by IT personnel.

Baer said that he had described the Insights feature during his May Ignite talk when he spoke about harvesting telemetry data. However, the Insights feature has been misunderstood as being part of a Microsoft Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). Insights is not part of the CEIP, Baer clarified.

Microsoft uses the telemetry data for "AV testing," but otherwise the Insights feature taps telemetry data to produce a dashboard that shows IT pros what SharePoint features are being used and the actions users are taking, along with a lot of advanced analytics about SharePoint use.

Insights does send the telemetry data back to Microsoft. It's a hybrid experience and assumes that an organization has a cloud-based tenant. The reports don't go into a pool, though. Instead, the reports are sent back to organizations and are "discreet" and "only associated with your organization," Baer said.

In response to a question about whether the Insights service sends Microsoft information about on-premises SharePoint use, Baer said that "today, that's not part of the plan." Instead, the reports are designed for organizations only. "We don't leverage the reports in any way, shape or form," Baer said. At present, there's no rollout date for the new Insights service, Baer said, in response to a question.

E-Discovery
Baer also talked about SharePoint Server 2016's e-discovery capabilities for preventing the disclosure of sensitive corporate information, such as social security numbers and credit card numbers. SharePoint can perform a "proximity scan" of documents to search for such information, based on sensitive info types.

The sensitive info types have to be implemented using SharePoint 2016, Baer said. Microsoft has prebuilt 51 sensitive info types into the product "out of the box," he added. This e-discovery capability is also available in Office 365 services. Microsoft is working to make it work across both cloud and premises.

The e-discovery capability has a lot of flexibility, Baer said. It all depends on how a query gets composed. It uses the Keyword Query Language syntax. It's possible to create a policy to delete sensitive information in documents based on assignment type, he explained.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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