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Microsoft has just announced that the intranet features provided by SharePoint hub sites are coming to Office 365 subscribers.  These new features may be available as early as the end of this month (March) to a small portion of existing o365 subscribers who are opted into test releases. 

 A full roll-out worldwide will be coming late spring or early summer, with early May 2018 appearing to be the targeted time for full distribution.  The goal of SharePoint hub sites is to bring flexible dynamic building blocks to a company’s intranet, which will enable improved company collaboration and communication.

This update mainly effects an organizations team and communication sites.  Hub sites help companies bring together resources including activities, news, and search capabilities into a portal meant for knowledge sharing.  They are however not meant to be a replacement to existing publishing site portals.  Some featured capabilities include cross-site navigation, content roll-up, enabling a consistent look and feel through themes, and scoped search for content within associated sites.

Existing publishing site portals will continue to be fully supported by Microsoft in both SharePoint Server on-premises and SharePoint online.  Along with this update will also come a new “Sites WebParts” which can be used to identify sites that are associated with a hub site.

The concept of SharePoint hub sites was first announced at Innite 2017.  According to speculation by Microsoft MVP's Roger Haueter and Vlad Catrinesu this new capability will only at least initially be available to Office 365 cloud subscribers and will not be available within SharePoint Server 2019, which is Microsoft’s upcoming on-prem product that is coming out later in 2018.

Hub sites support good governance and provide the ability to better maintain relationships between sites over time.  The creation of hub sites is recommended to be setup by IT developers, although experienced admins will also be able to easily establish and manage hub sites on a day-to-day basis.  Hub sites can be setup to be brand new or existing communication sites can be converted.  Although setting up multiple hub sites is possible, they will not be able to be associated with one another.

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