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BOSTON -- The cloud. SharePoint.

Wait, what? Not me. Not us. Not anytime soon, if ever.

That captures some of the sentiment we heard here among the nearly 1,000 people at the SharePoint Technology Conference at the Boston Park Plaza hotel.

David Maldonado, an analyst programmer at the University of New Mexico's health division (pictured with co-worker Erin Youtzy), came up with a few words to answer the cloud proposition in SharePoint: "HIPAA. Personal information. Health records."

Staying Put

For those reasons, the SharePoint environment in his organization will remain on-premises.

And therein lies the challenge for Microsoft, if its so-called "push to the cloud" is true: getting everyone onboard to SharePoint Online when there are compliance and security issues to contend with like at Maldonado's organization.

So what is Microsoft's long-term vision with SharePoint on-premise and the cloud? We caught up with Jeremy Thake, technical product manager for Microsoft, after his keynote this morning to find out.

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The sense we get? For Microsoft, moving SharePoint users in the cloud is more a "nudge" than a "push" from the Redmond, Wash., giant. Don't get them wrong. Microsoft is actively promoting the cost and other benefits of SharePoint Online, and Thake admitted that.

There still remains, though, Thake told CMSWire, many reasons for Microsoft to invest in on-premise capabilities.

"We're running a service, and I think we've been very clear on the fact we're pushing our new features into service first," Thake said. "But we've also openly said we've all been putting a lot of effort into SharePoint vNext which will come out within next year's window. We will be releasing new features that have been available in SharePoint Online in there."

In other words, on-premise users can still get some of the benefits of SharePoint in the cloud.

"In staggered timeframes," Thake pointed out.

Cloudy Times

But some things are just made for the cloud, right?

Take Microsoft Office Delve for instance, the new offering Microsoft rolled out earlier this month and promised users to provide them with the right information at the right time without needing to look for it. 

"With Delve for instance ... there's just way too much going on," Thake said. "And I don't think IT pros would want to try to keep that up and running. So Delve is always going to be in the cloud, much like Yammer is. But there's nothing saying that from a hybrid scenario we can't plug into those things that were available in the server."

Learning Opportunities

Microsoft is not trying to move everybody in the cloud. In fact, Thake pointed to a colleague's comment about on-premise SharePoint.

"We're going to continue to ship those major versions of SharePoint as long as there's demand," he said. "We know there's a significant amount of customers available on SharePoint servers. And part of it is we need  to satisfy those guys. What we are seeing is customers are seeing the benefits of Office 365 and people are moving. Three years ago when I joined Avepoint (his former company)customers weren't really that key on it. But SharePoint Online is really coming up now."

People sitting in SharePoint 2010 will start to consider SharePoint 2013, and 2013 users will consider the move to SharePoint online, Thake said.

Not Just Yet

We definitely heard some of that from the user crowd here at the Boston Park Plaza. But not all are ready for the cloud deployment.

"I think it really comes down to a lack of knowledge about where the opportunity is," Robert Cushman, senior IT manager for Praxair, Inc., told CMSWire. "When Microsoft presented it to us it sounded like there were some advantages but there was a cost to it. If everything is working on-premise, then we're going to stay that way until the cost can be justified."

Praxair, a 26,000-employee engineering company, uses SharePoint 2010, which has "been very stable for us," Cushman said.

"We've had very few problems with it," he added, "even though it's a complicated environment with a lot of add-on tools and custom applications. Our customer base is used to the environment."

Cushman said the organization may bypass 2013 and jump to the next version. 

Eric Riz, SharePoint MVP and the executive vice president of Concatenate, a software firm based in Toronto focused on maximizing SharePoint, told CMSWire it isn't a "must" to move to the cloud.

"Organizations must assess their strengths and choose the right platform for them," he said. "For example, government agencies who have data concerns will likely always be on-prem customers."

Missing Out?

And although the University of New Mexico's Health division will not be moving to the cloud, they can see the benefits.

"One of the benefits we can see is more user acceptance for SharePoint," said Erin Youtzy, database administrator for the university. "We have a hard time with that. If it were more of an integrated feel with everything, we could definitely see more user acceptance."