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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

IBM says they're running these clouds, but it's their services organization that's running these things and building these things. That's really an outsourcing. It's a hosting sort of circumstance and an arm's length thing. It's my own engineering teams that are running the clouds. It's my engineering teams that are getting called when there's a problem. It's my engineering teams that are dealing with and understanding what happens when you're running a service, day-in, day-out for a customer. I can't even imagine how a provider can deliver a cloud service unless they're operating that way. To be fair, Google operates that way, an Amazon would operate that way. The consumer service companies have that experience. They know that. But they don't know the enterprise. They don't understand the needs that the enterprise has in terms of the complexity of their environments, the lifecycle associated with their applications. You see things with these consumer services guys. They release something and customers build apps and they say, 'Oh, we're going to change that API in the next version completely.'

And customers have built and made investments. We've come to learn what sort of expectations an enterprise customer has. It's that balance of understanding what it means to run these services at scale and actually have your engineering teams live with it, and understand the complexity and the expectations in the enterprise.

What other big shifts is Microsoft focused on with major corporate customers around collaboration, mobility, business intelligence?

There are some great things that are happening. We see a strong emergence of a wide variety of devices and connecting those sets of devices. Obviously, we're highly engaged in building those things. We're excited to see Windows Phone 7 launching this fall. That's really a huge step and I think we'll start to see a lot of success there.

You mentioned business intelligence . I think that's an example of one of the major opportunities that emerges in this sort of this crunch time where we have this combination of business systems and sensors that are being deployed. I was just in China not that long ago and the utility companies are going to have smart meters sending this massive amount of data back associated with the usage of electricity. There's a massive amount of information that's coming into these systems. How can we actually make use of that and put it in a form that people can digest and actually make better business decisions?

Our view is that [BI] is something that needs to be democratized and made available to everyone, every person who is working with information. Other folks are building these complicated, high-priced tools where there's a lot of training required. Our tool for business intelligence is called Excel. It's a tool that people really know. We took a massive step forward this spring with Excel 2010 and the power pivot capabilities that we put in there for people to analyze and work with business data. So now Excel can work with, essentially, information of any size, data sheets of any size, hundreds of millions of rows, with some very, very strong visualization technologies. People can view the data and pivot it in different ways. The path of innovation on that stuff is unbelievably exciting.


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