Is Cloud really only the way forward for SharePoint?

Liam Cleary

September 12, 2016

4 Min Read
Is Cloud really only the way forward for SharePoint?

For those of us still using an On-Premises SharePoint environment, we might have asked ourselves whether cloud is the only way forward. 

Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint, outlined the vision in this great statement:

For more than a decade, Microsoft’s customers have relied on SharePoint to power teamwork, to automate business processes, to create business applications, and to build company-wide intranets. As a core part of Office 365, SharePoint provides content management and collaboration capabilities that are seamlessly integrated with the other applications people use every day to create and coauthor documents, meet and work with their teams, brainstorm, analyze, and make decisions. SharePoint is also integrated with the powerful cross-suite capabilities of Office 365, such as Office 365 Groups, the Office Graph, and governance controls for security, privacy, and compliance.
Our vision for SharePoint Online in the cloud and SharePoint Server on-premises extends into a connected extensible hybrid experience in which users can take advantage of the powerful features of both SharePoint Server on-premises and the innovation we are delivering in SharePoint Online. Device-independent collaboration and file sharing through Microsoft OneDrive for Business, coupled with intelligent intranets driven by modern team sites, publishing and business applications on your desktop, and mobile device lead the charge in providing new ways to work.
SharePoint Server also delivers cloud-born innovation through hybrid capabilities and experiences that span, integrate, and unify on-premises farms and Office 365. With hybrid search, we have delivered an improved user experience that unifies the index, query results, and search experience across Office 365 and on-premises farms running SharePoint 2016, SharePoint 2013, and even SharePoint 2010. Hybrid search also makes on-premises content available within Office Graph– powered applications such as Delve.
Hybrid OneDrive provides businesses with a stepping stone into the Office 365 experience, pa

For those of us still using an On-Premises SharePoint environment, we might have asked ourselves whether cloud is the only way forward.

Based on the Microsoft marketing and buzz around the internet it seems that cloud is the way to go.

So is that really true?

Well in reality the choice to use cloud or not comes down to what you need as a business. SharePoint historically has had some level of feature parity for previous versions of SharePoint On-Premises and older versions of Office 365, albeit it running in Tenant mode in the cloud. Of course there were more capabilities when using the On-Premises solution purely based on it not being limited by the tenant approach. However over the time the gap between the two has gotten bigger and bigger and does not seem to be stopping right now.


When announcements were made for SharePoint 2016, many of us hoped that this gap would actually be closed a little, but instead, though great investments were made, the gap seemed to get bigger. The core focus areas for SharePoint 2016 were based around three areas: User Experiences, Infrastructure and Compliance. With investments in these areas, this does make it compelling to stay On-Premises, but if we break down the “User Experiences” investments, you will quickly realize that to use some of the great experiences, then cloud has to be used combined with the On-Premises to get what is needed.

To learn more about SharePoint Hybrid 2016, you can visit here:

If you want to walk through some training then you can watch the webinars I recently gave or read the related blog post.

So Hybrid seems to be the way that cloud might actually ensure that SharePoint lives on forever. However with some recent announcements for SharePoint Development, such as the SharePoint Framework release, we can see that some of the gap is going to be closed bringing “like-for-like” feature set. With Microsoft announcing that feature packs will be available for SharePoint 2016 bringing features back to On-Premises will mean that we don’t have to jump into the cloud. The SharePoint Framework has also been rumored to be coming to On-Premises SharePoint 2016, which would bring some of the new Office 365 UI capabilities once again shrinking the gap.

Now of course there are some core features that just won’t make it back to On-Premises, such as Groups or things like Power BI, and that comes down to the complexity behind those features.

So the question would be, is cloud the only way forward, based on actually breaking down the announcements we can see that no it is not the only way forward. On-Premises SharePoint is here to stay and better features are making its way for us to use. 

If we look at the Office 365 roadmap you will get a sense of what might make its way back to On-Premises:


The future looks good and cloud is not the only way forward!! 

About the Author(s)

Liam Cleary

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