Respected Exchange MVP Tony Redmond commented on the layoffs: "What's really upsetting is that subliminal message that Microsoft is no longer interested in providing the very best technical information to its customers." I think it goes deeper. I think the company is saying, "The technical information our customers need revolves around the cloud-based future we are outlining for you."
These and other subjects will be my focus next month at the MVP Summit at Microsoft headquarters. We'll have a chance to ask the hard questions about the future of on-premises server solutions vs. the cloud. I'll personally ask questions about the concept of "built-in vs. bolt-on" expressed at the Microsoft Exchange Conference this past year. On-premises Exchange has always been respected as a solution despite the fact that bolt-on third-party tools have been necessary to make it better, whether they're backup-and-recovery tools, monitoring tools, and the like.
With Office 365 and Exchange Online, it seems like Microsoft is trying to provide an all-in-one solution that covers any and every need. It may get there eventually, but I think folks are mistaken if they don't realize they must consider bolt-on solutions for certain enterprise-grade features, if only for the time being.
To be truthful, it's premature to toll the bell for on-premises Exchange. A full 85 percent of Exchange use is on-premises, with the other 15 percent made up of hosted offerings, Office 365, and others. But with a solid pricing proposition and Microsoft putting out new features almost daily (or so it seems) that require all the many pieces provided through Office 365 (Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Yammer, OneDrive, Office Graph with Delve, and so on), it's hard to imagine the percentages won't flip in the next three to five years.
Which will you be building: walls or windmills?
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