SharePoint 2016 Search Explained – Agnes Molnar

by | Aug 31, 2016 | Reviews, Search

One of the many mysteries about Microsoft SharePoint is that there have been so few books to guide search managers in how to get the best from the application. There were a few on SP2007 search and two excellent books on SP2010 by Mikael Svenson et al (Microsoft Press) and Mark Bennett et al (Wrox) but both are out of print. As far as I am aware there are no books of equivalent depth on SP2013. I have difficulty in understanding Microsoft’s search strategy. On one hand they have some of the best information retrieval researchers in the world working within Microsoft Research and yet if you want to search the Microsoft Research site then the results interface is terrible. Some features don’t work at all. Agnes Molnar is the author of some of the SP2013 briefing papers published by BAInsight and has rightly gained an excellent reputation for her work on search implementation, especially SharePoint 2013 so I welcome her initiative in writing SharePoint 2016 Search Explained

Of course no sooner do organisations come to understand one release of SharePoint than Microsoft announces the next release. It’s actually worse than that because I know of a number of organisations who have a SP2013 intranet but retain the SP2010 search application because of its exceptional power and performance. With the gradual withdrawal of official support for SP2010 organisations are now looking beyond SP2013 and considering SP2016, Office 365 search and hybrid search. Writing about search is not easy because there are three potential readerships, namely developers/integrators, search managers and business managers. Agnes starts out with a general introduction to enterprise search and then provides a description of the technology behind SharePoint 2016, Delve and Office 365. The book concludes with a short section on content quality and the future direction of SharePoint search.

The transition from SP2010 to SP2013 search has caught many organisations by surprise. So many have told me that they are using FAST Search without any idea of what FAST Search was. In some respects SP2013 search is an advance on SP2010 but in other respects (such as the content processing pipeline) it is not. In particular it is now more optimised for searching SharePoint content and less so for wider enterprise search. This why BAInsight has been so successful over the last few years as it offers technology and development routes that are now not offered by SP2013. What is missing from this book is a consideration of the implications of moving from SP2013 (and indeed SP2010 search on SP2013) to SP2016.  Issues of cloud vs on-premise vs hybrid are for the enterprise architects to consider – search managers just want to be certain about how the user experience can be enhanced.

It’s not until I started to write the second edition of Enterprise Search I realised how much was missing (or was less than accurate!) from the first edition, published in 2012. The second edition, published in 2015 was almost a total rewrite even if some of the chapters looked similar. In fact the second edition took me longer to write than the first edition.  I know Agnes is planning a  second edition of her book now, ready for the wider-scale release and adoption of SP2016. Her insights and experience will be invaluable. Buy the first edition in any case as it will give you a good sense of the opportunities and challenges ahead and watch out for the second edition in due course.

Martin White

 

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