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Upgrades for the SharePoint Online portal

As more organizations migrate SharePoint sites to the cloud, Microsoft has increased at-a-glance dashboard data and analytics to show admins how top-performing content measures up.

Microsoft offered a sneak peek at the newest features in the SharePoint Online portal for SharePoint administrators to attendees of the 2017 Ignite conference. These features will be available in the SharePoint Online portal this year.

One feature in particular, a revamped SharePoint Online admin center, offers a more granular view of content performance data. Although there are some key components still missing that admins will eventually need, it's an improvement over last year's model.

The SharePoint Online portal, which received a complete redesign, is where administrators can manage their SharePoint site collections, permissions and other configurations. The new website includes many enhancements that SharePoint administrators will find valuable as they manage their SharePoint environments.

There are many SharePoint administrators who have already been exposed to the new admin portal as Microsoft has rolled it out to different user groups. While the new admin center is not fully complete, any administrator with access to permissions on SharePoint or global admin rights can preview the site by visiting their existing admin portal and selecting the Site collections list on their main SharePoint site, as shown in figure 1.

Site Collections tab in the new SharePoint admin portal
Figure 1: A preview of the new SharePoint admin site

There are many new enhancements included in the SharePoint Online portal. For starters, the new web admin center provides site visitors with a landing page that gives quick insights into the usage and activities of the sites. This comes in the form of two charts that highlight the stats over a defined period, as shown in figure 2. SharePoint administrators can also expand the timespan and download the data if needed by simply clicking on the details link on the top-left side of the chart and navigating to the details page.

Two charts showing site activity
Figure 2: Activity over time charted in the SharePoint admin center

For SharePoint administrators who are solely responsible for managing SharePoint Online and not the rest of the Office 365 suite, the SharePoint Online portal will provide a dedicated admin center that offers SharePoint-specific details and information, such as the SharePoint Message Center. The message grid offers all the relevant news and messages related to SharePoint, such as new features, enhancements and fixes, as shown at the bottom of figure 2.

In addition, administrators will have visibility into the current health of their SharePoint service, including the ability to help identify any outages or degradation of service.

The new admin center will aid with the creation of new sites using the new modern team site and communication site templates. Previously, it was tricky for SharePoint administrators to generate new sites using new communication and modern layouts, and it required administrators to browse the default SharePoint site using the app launcher, and then use the shortcut to new site creation under the modern landing page.

With the new admin center, administrators can go to the Site management section of the website, and from the new site button, get the options listed in figure 3 to create a new site based on the new templates.

Site options to choose from when creating a new site
Figure 3: Creating a site in the new admin center

There is an additional section that the new SharePoint Online portal provides administrators access to, and it relates to settings for lists, libraries and notifications that can be configured for end users. Figure 4 highlights what the new screen includes. The library and lists settings page will enable administrators to choose the experience with lists and libraries, including the navigation bar, as shown in figure 5.

A list of settings for the SharePoint administrator center
Figure 4: The new SharePoint admin center settings
The navigation bar of the library and lists settings
Figure 5: The library and lists settings in the SharePoint admin center

With the tight integration that OneDrive for Business has with SharePoint, a shortcut has been made in the new admin portal that enables administrators to navigate directly to the dedicated OneDrive admin center. This way, they can control the settings related to OneDrive for Business and the content stored within.

The new admin center interface matches the overall responsiveness and modern user experience that other admin centers throughout Office 365 offer. SharePoint administrators will continue to see more features and enhancements as time goes by.

Despite the improved UI in the SharePoint Online portal and the new functionality being offered, there are still many configurations that were left behind in the old admin portal. Microsoft is still working on incorporating those administration sections into the new portal. Some of the missing admin functions include user profiles, Business Connectivity Service, records management, secure store, apps, sharing, hybrid configuration and access control.

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