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Microsoft's cloud strategy

John Gallant, IDG Enterprise, and Eric Knorr, (Computerworld US) | Oct. 11, 2010
In-depth Q&A: Microsoft's Bob Muglia details cloud strategy

How are you helping customers make the transition?

We're helping customers across virtually all of these workloads in the sense that we're providing world-class messaging and collaborative services that we deliver with our SharePoint Online and our Exchange Online. We're able to move customers that are on premises [into] those products, but also effectively move customers from other environments.

Some legacy customers are coming from, say, a Notes environment, [where] the cost of ownership in running that is a bit higher -- significantly higher, actually -- than, say, an Exchange installation is. The economic case for moving from an existing on-premises Notes installation to a cloud-provided Exchange and SharePoint is a very easy business case to justify. That's one set of examples.

In the creation of business applications, we're working to make it simple for people to take their existing applications that they've written, many of which are running on Windows Server today, and help move them into cloud environments -- whether it be a private cloud or a public cloud like Windows Azure.

How do you define private cloud?

The definitions of cloud have been something the industry has really struggled with. I think, first of all, it's helpful that the industry is really clarifying itself, saying that cloud is IT as a service, providing IT as a service. That by itself is a fairly big step in getting clarity. Then, I think the real question is where is the cloud running and is it dedicated to an individual customer? I think of a private cloud as something that is running inside a customer data center and is dedicated to their own business applications. Then you have public clouds, which are shared across multiple organizations. Windows Azure is an example of that. We have shared examples of our Exchange and SharePoint Online services, but we are also offering dedicated SharePoint and Exchange where we run it and, yet, it's dedicated to a customer.

What do you think IT leaders should be doing differently or better in the way that they're moving toward or viewing cloud?

The most important thing is that customers begin to understand how cloud could be used to solve their business needs. Again, we are having that conversation with virtually every customer with workloads like messaging and collaboration. That's relatively universal. I'm not going to say to every customer, 'You should all move to the cloud right now,' because it may not meet their business needs. But I do recommend that every customer evaluate it for those sets of workloads.

When it comes to business applications, customers are in a different state of adoption. Some are really aggressively looking at applications that they can move into a cloud environment. Some are relatively aggressively looking at how they can build their own private clouds. And there are a number of organizations that are still more nascent there. What I would recommend that every organization do is take a look at their business applications pick at least one to move to Windows Azure in a public cloud. I was talking to a large financial services organization not that long ago that has about 4,500 applications. And my feedback to them was, 'Choose. I know you've got all these regulatory issues. You're global, all these things. [But] there's one of those applications that you could move to a public cloud. Choose it and really begin and start working on that.

 

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