As a Gartner research analyst, Craig Roth’s main goal at Microsoft Ignite was to judge the SharePoint Server zeitgeist.
“To be clear,” remarks Roth, “since Office 365’s announcement at SPC13 Microsoft never said they weren’t dedicated to continuing its on-premises version. But they didn’t do a lot to say they were either.”
Roth says vendors often don’t talk two full versions out, but they also don’t often push a competing product either.
“And when one of those products gets a huge amount of push and messaing that makes users of the old product feel like dinosaurs, I can understand how many of the clients we talked to felt they would be hurt by staying on premises,” he adds.
“That didn’t have to be the server product being discontinued – it could be lagging investment, punative pricing, or hobbled functionality.
“So it seems Microsoft has realised they needed to turn up the volume on their Server messaging.”
And in the opinion of Roth, they did. For example, Julia White, General Manager, Office Division Product Management, Microsoft even said: “We’re deeply committed to Server”.
“So there you have it,” Roth claims, “server lives.
“Whether it was simply a misunderstanding, a head fake to see how many customers they could get to duck over to the cloud, or backtracking is a matter of debate.
“But the result is the same: SharePoint Server 2016 will be a real version; more than just patches to the old one. They outlined a set of improvements, many driven by what they’ve learned from managing it themselves at cloud scale.”
So what about SharePoint Server 2019/2020? “Mum’s the word,” Roth adds.