God is dead, SharePoint is dying
Fifty years ago, Friedrich Nietzsche prononced this famous statement, I doubt he would have something to say about SharePoint if he was still alive but I like the formula! Many customers and folks wonder about the future of SharePoint and especially, the on-premises version and I must admit that there are good reasons to be worried.
Microsoft has been very vague regarding the future of SharePoint and seems to focus only on Office 365, Azure and Mobile. I think that they take the right path, since in this highly connected environment, it would be silly not fo focus on Cloud and Mobile. We can still blame them for being quite reserved in their communication regarding SharePoint. The word "SharePoint" is being neglected for the past 2 years and I'm afraid its golden age is behind more than to come. However, it still breathes and it will be hard to kill the beast.
SharePoint on-premises is probably close to extinction although Microsoft doesn't have a replacement for it nor any other companies. The on-premises version has been very criticized (for good reasons) but the swiss-knife-like side of it along with its rich APIs is quite unique on the market and still responds to customer needs.
Nevertheless, I think that the move to the cloud is inevitable no matter how many years are still to go and we, as SharePoint consultants should not be afraid of it because SharePoint online is nothing else but a subset of SharePoint on-premises and who can do the big things can do the little things as well. If I were a customer today, considering SharePoint for a new deployment, I'd definitely forget about the on-premises version and would consider only the online one. If it's not suitable for your needs, go look for something else and forget about Microsoft if you're not Cloud minded.
SharePoint on-premises is dying, it still breathes but it's dying. It was a nice product overall but has been penalized by its complexity and paradoxally by its wealth. Having worked in several infrastructure and applicative departements, I've seen how hard it is to setup and maintain large farms (or multiple-farms) environments. Moving to the 365, you don't need to worry about that anymore, just focus on functionlity. Of couse, this will take the food off the tables of SharePoint IT pros but that's life and it makes no sense to "resist", they should just look forward and think of recyling. For developers, the story is a little different, there is still hope, APIs are just moving to 365 & Azure, not such a big deal after all!
I can't come with evidence on what I say here but let me tell you that if you stick to the on-premises version, you'll sink with it! So, what should we all do? Moving to SharePoint online? I'd say yes probably but even the future of SharePoint Online isn't that clear. Microsoft keeps speaking about Office 365 and carefully avoids to use the word "SharePoint". It might be a wrong impression of mine though...That said, 365 rocks overall, whatever the future of SharePoint Online could be...Now that Microsoft has caught the "agile" virus, we can expect many features on a short term basis. Hopefully, the "agile" term will not transform to "cow boy mode".
So, what's the purpose of this post after all? Well, if the message isn't clear yet : forget SharePoint on-premises and move now or never to 365!