In many of the conversations that I have with customers to date, I’m often asked how SharePoint is going to evolve in regards to Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. As we move into 2016 and get closer to the next on-premises server release, I wanted to talk about how the cloud enables us to bring not only SharePoint, but all of the Office technologies together.

SharePoint began as a document management collaboration solution, primarily focused on team sites. As the product has evolved over the years there have been new experiences added such as client portals, business intelligence (BI), a powerful intelligent search platform powered by FAST Search, and much more.  SharePoint in the cloud with Office 365 and Azure allows you to take advantage of all the new Office technologies such as Office Delve and Office 365 Video alongside email with Outlook, instant messaging with Skype for Business and the traditional SharePoint workloads, while maintaining core IT and Dev capabilities for management and extensibility across all these experiences.

These new experiences are built around collaboration – bringing teams together, mobility – being truly productive using any device, intelligence – contextual, relevant and personalized information, and integration – the blending of experiences across Office 365 and blurring the lines across traditional product silos.

To illustrate this, let’s take a look at some of the innovations within Office 365:

Search – Going beyond traditional enterprise search, Office Delve is a new way to discover relevant information and connections from data across Office 365, as well as provide predictive search capabilities. Delve personalizes content based on insights delivered from the Office Graph, helping people connect with the right information at the right time.

Files – In addition to the general purpose document libraries in SharePoint, OneDrive provides users with one place to easily store, sync and share personal files across devices—with security, reliability and manageability squarely in place for IT. OneDrive ultimately removes the need for personal file servers and local hard drives while enabling easier sharing and collaboration across the organization.

Team Sites – Within Office 365, we have the opportunity to expand the concept of team sites. In doing so, we can bring together team content traditionally kept in SharePoint, along with the broader set of information across Office 365 including email, instant messaging, tasks, contacts, personal files, social feeds and more. This integrated team experience across Office 365 offers simplified permissions for the user and complete management, governance and extensibility models, making it a win for IT and for users.

BI – With Power BI Microsoft took forward the vision of creating a “ready to go” solution that users and IT can get up and running in minutes. Built on top of Office 365, Power BI provides an integrated analytical platform in the cloud that connects to your important information from where it lives via the Excel interface users know.

Social – Social is evolving from a standalone newsfeed to immersive experiences across Office 365. As part of Office 365, Yammer makes it easy for users to participate in the conversations that matter most, quickly go over ideas within a team and scale impact across the company. To help users work in new, more dynamic ways, Microsoft has integrated the Yammer experience alongside Office documents and videos, as well as common line of business applications such as Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com, and offer mobile access across platforms.

I understand the cloud doesn’t happen all at once, but I’ve seen a growing demand for SharePoint Online and Office 365 from our customer base. I also recognize that our customers have a range of requirements that make maintaining existing SharePoint Server deployments the right decision for some. Office 365 and SharePoint Online allow for flexible pricing options that give you predictability and flexibility for all or part of your organization. Microsoft’s vision for Office 365 and SharePoint Online is complete business productivity and you can begin to see the benefits of this vision almost immediately after your Office 365 implementation.