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Thursday, September 3, 2015
Will Microsoft Exchange Be a Cloud-Only System?

Those who are currently previewing the Microsoft Exchange 2016 beta version are concerned with a very important question: is this just a move toward a cloud-only system? After all, Microsoft has not been shy about promoting cloud-based computing, and many business owners who use SharePoint on premises have lived in dread of the day that the entire system migrates to the cloud without any on-site options. However, most experts believe that, for the time being, Microsoft has no plans to force anyone into the cloud and probably never will remove on-site configurations completely.

The "Cloud First" Strategy

Detractors have been particularly vocal in pointing to Microsoft's so-called "cloud first" strategy. They claim that Microsoft's ultimate goal is to move everyone to the cloud so that eventually its programs can be completely cloud-based with no hybrid or on-site options. Even though Microsoft itself has repeatedly denied this allegation, the rumor persists.

The launch of SharePoint 2016 should put these fears to rest, at least for the foreseeable future. Microsoft was quick to note that the entire preview is in hybrid form, with both on-site and cloud-based search capabilities. In fact, one of the key features of the new SharePoint 2016 is its hybrid search capabilities, which allow integration between cloud-based and on-site data for users of either type of system.

But the cloud . . .

Nevertheless, some people are insistent that Microsoft is determined to make its program completely cloud-based. For example, they claim that there are features in the cloud version of SharePoint that are not available to on-premises users, such as Office Graph and Delve.

The new launch proves that this is not the case. In fact, Microsoft has gone out of its way to incorporate both Office Graph and Delve into its hybrid system and actually created a way for on-site users to instantly make data available to Office Graph so that it can then be incorporated into search results that include cloud-based data as well. Hybrid, rather than cloud-based, could be said to be the future of SharePoint, at least for the time being.

Whether Microsoft migrates completely to the cloud will probably depend more on the overall picture of commercial data storage in ten years than its own preferences. If customers choose on-site, Microsoft will probably continue to provide that option as long as necessary.

Contact C3IT for more information on integration of Microsoft SharePoint with your on-premises system.

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