Over the past year or so I've spoken to some SharePoint customers who have been confused by the SharePoint message coming out of Redmond. Microsoft, in their enthusiasm to promote Office 365 have not really assured customers on the future of SharePoint On-premises. There's been a real lack of any clear message about the product and no roadmap was published. Anecdotally this has led to some nervousness amongst customers, and the question has been asked 'Is On-premises SharePoint dead?'. Asking such a question might sound melodramatic, but believe me - silence from Redmond on any technology often means it's doomed.
Don't get me wrong, I believe there are many positives to Office 365 and Cloud in general. I see Office 365 as a great way to make SharePoint available to smaller organizations to whom On-Prem would not be cost effective. However the shift isn't going to happen en masse quite yet. Just look at Gartner’s comments that for example only 8% of office system users employ any sort of cloud based email at all; here In my part of the world, Switzerland, I find many of the large Enterprises have a 'no cloud' rule. Until certain issues to do with guaranteed up time, connectivity, and state snooping are resolved, that is not going to change here. [Update 4th December 2013 Microsoft have issued a very welcome communication on Government Snooping here ]
SharePoint On-Premises is still how the vast majority of customers use SharePoint and it's still a major cash cow for Microsoft.
I'm preparing for the day I might have to move our farm to Cloud (I'll detail how in future blog posts) but I don't expect it to happen for at least five to ten years if it ever does. Many other customers may take the same view.
With this in mind I'm relieved today to see an official post on the MS Office Blog. Not only does it herald the coming release of Service Pack 1 for SharePoint 2013, but it also states here
" we look forward we'll continue to deliver rapid innovation through our Office 365 service as well as continued future on-premises versions of SharePoint on our traditional release cadence of 2-3 years."
This is gold. We'll continue to get rapid innovations and releases from Office 365, for those that want it. However On-Premises is still alive and kicking, and as organizations we still have the stability of not making major changes to the platform outside of the current 2-3 year cycle we know and love. Big business has the stability of the platform it needs. A message I'd have liked to see at least a year ago, but welcome now nonetheless.