Microsoft and The Cloud

Observations from Microsoft Tech-Ed 2010

I have spent the better part of this past weekend reviewing material from this year’s Tech-Ed conference which took place in New Orleans last week. In this post I offer my take on what seems to be Microsoft’s emerging position and strategy concerning cloud computing.

Certainly there is the Azure Platform as we have already discussed. To me, however, there seems to be much more to it both in their latest product offerings as well as in their own internal IT infrastructure. Since Microsoft tends to make and shake up markets it is usually worthwhile to pay attention to the directions they are taking.

In the opening keynote Bob Muglia, President of Microsoft Server and Tools Business, re-introduced the notion of “Dynamic IT”. According to Muglia Dynamic IT, which is all about connecting developers and IT operations together with systems, processes and services, has been at the core of Microsoft’s long term (ten year) strategy since 2003. Now, seven years later, Microsoft sees the cloud as a key component in the Dynamic IT vision. At a very fundamental level Microsoft views the cloud as delivering “IT as a Service”.

Microsoft sees five “dimensions” to the cloud:

  1. Creates opportunities and responsibilities
  2. Learns and helps you learn, decide and take action
  3. Enhances social and professional interactions
  4. Wants smarter devices
  5. Drives server advances that, in turn, drive the cloud

It seems to me that, to a greater or lesser degree, they are now offering products and services that address all of these dimensions.

Among the leading cloud providers Microsoft is uniquely positioned to extend their existing product line (servers, operating systems, tools and applications) into the cloud. Microsoft is hoping to leverage its’ extensive installed base into the cloud. In my opinion Microsoft’s ability to enable hybrid cloud solutions, especially those involving on-premise Windows deployments, is second to none. Now, with the availability of AppFabric for Windows Server 2008 this is even more so the case.

Will Microsoft succeed with this approach? Or will the market move away from the software giant in favor of open source solutions? What about Google, which, by comparison, is starting from a relatively clean slate in terms of an installed base? Obviously it is too early to tell.

One thing is for sure: cloud computing is real and it is here to stay. However it is likely that in the relatively near future the term “cloud computing” will fall into disuse. What we now know as cloud computing will probably just come to be what we will consider as best practices in IT. Competition in the industry will move the technology forward and consumers will have many choices. I expect that Microsoft technologies will continue to be a viable choice for corporations in the years to come.


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