Update on SharePoint 2016 and Excel Services

As I wrote about in September of this year, SharePoint 2016 will no longer contain the Power Pivot Gallery. That functionality would be included in Office Online Server, which wasn’t out yet. Later that month Office Online Server was released, and a lot of the questions regarding how Excel Reporting Services were going to be made available were known.

Office Online Server: The Location for Excel

For those of you unfamiliar with the Office Online Server, it isn’t a new product. It was released as Office Web Apps Server in 2012, and was designed to support creating and editing Office documents without having to load SharePointAndOfficethe applications to desktops. The server provides the capability for Office documents to be run via a browser, decreasing the need to update desktops. Most people continued to load office to workstations anyway. Microsoft continued to pound away at the application, which is meant to be the location to go to view Office Applications. Fast forward to 2016, and Microsoft decided that Office Online Server would be the place to go to view all Office documents, meaning they were removing Excel Services from SharePoint, as they already had a product that would do that.

Viewing Excel Reports via SharePoint 2016

Another preview of Office Online Server was released last week, meaning a lot of the details of how Excel Services will work is now known, and you can download Office Online Server yourself to try it out. Office Online Server is a completely separate application from SharePoint, and as a matter of fact it should not share space on a server with SharePoint installed. SharePoint 2016 is designed to work with the Office Online Server, so it will support viewing Excel documents. You will need to establish a trust relationship between the two servers to authenticate them via certificates, which is a lot easier than setting up Kerberos. Of course you can also set up SharePoint to view SQL Server Reporting Services reports as well so you can store all of your reports in one place.

What to do to Prepare for an Upgrade to SharePoint 2016

If your organization is looking to upgrade their versions of SharePoint 2016 and you want to view Excel Reports, go requisition another server for installing Office Online Server as you will need it to support viewing Excel or any other Office Document. SharePoint 2016 has been streamlined to manage files and their content, and is pushing other features to other products. One of the reasons for this is SharePoint has been modified to support content whether it be onsite or on the cloud. As part of Microsoft’s new realization that there are some people who aren’t going cloud, it merges some of the SharePoint Online functionality into the new release and is working on providing better support for SharePoint in the future.

So go ahead and upgrade to the latest SharePoint. You will still be able to access everything in Excel, not through SharePoint, with Office Online Server.

Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur


How 2016 Releases of SharePoint and Excel Impact Power BI

There has been a lot of news recently from Microsoft on the upcoming changes to Power BI, Excel and SharePoint. Some of the changes may impact your decisions regarding report distribution.

SharePoint 2016 has no Power Pivot Gallery

Within SharePoint 2016,  Excel Services have been removed from the SharePoint Server.  The Excel Services didn’t go away, they were moved to the Office Online Server Preview, which means if you want to continue rendering Pivot Tables and Power View via the PowerPivot Gallery, you won’t be doing this from SharePoint. If you are wondering how you are going to be able to view Pivot Tables and Power View reports in Office Online Server Preview, you have a lot of company. Office Online Server Preview is not out yet. What Microsoft is saying right now with the Preview Release of SharePoint 2016 is Excel Services are not there, and if you want to use Excel Services, you will be waiting until there is a Preview of Office Online Server. If you are thinking of upgrading next year to the latest version of SharePoint, you will need to wait to see how to do that and still support Excel report distribution.

Decreased Excel Power

Excel2016 cchangesMicrosoft is eliminating the rampant use of the word “Power” when it comes to Excel tools.  I want to stress that none of the tools have been removed, just renamed. Power Query has been renamed “Get and Transform”. Power Map is now called 3D Map. Only two power words remain, Power View and Power Pivot and the use of the word Power has diminished with both of them. Power View is still there and called Power View but you have to add it to the ribbon to see it. The Data tab now contains the familiar Manage Data Model icon to open up the Power Pivot Window, which you will have to enable the add-in to make it work. The add-in is found in the Data Analysis Add-in group with no reference to Power. A number of new features have been added, especially when it comes to visualizations in Power View, which now has Sunburst, Waterfall, Histogram, Pareto, Box & Whisker and TreeMaps.

Forecasting is Back

Forecasting in Excel 2016I really liked the forecasting Feature in Power BI Office 365, which I wrote about when was disabled in December of 2014. Now it is back in Excel 2016. It works like it did before by looking at historical information in the past and using those trends to predict future values using variables to help you adjust the value for different conditions. This feature provides a simple way to view possible outcomes, which I think is going to be a very popular feature.

Power BI Decision Process

Next year’s releases are going to provide a lot of changes which may impact what your organization may elect to do in the future. A lot of these changes were rather predictable, such as Excel 2016 containing the new visualizations found in Power BI, but others such as the changes to SharePoint, may be a surprise. Since I do not work for Microsoft, I have to guess like everyone else what the changes will be, but I don’t think it is a big stretch to guess that Office Online Server may be cloud based. SharePoint 2016 product announcement describes the product as a Cloud-hybrid, and I am guessing the hybrid part may see your Excel documents on Office Online Server in the cloud. If this is a big deal to your organization, you may want to read the information about this really closely. I know I will and will be writing about them here.  Please feel free to subscribe to my blog to get the latest updates.

***For updates on this topic please see my more recent post Update on SharePoint 2016 and Excel Services

Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur