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Is Microsoft “years behind” in cloud apps?

Microsoft is associated almost exclusively with Windows and Office. Unfortunately a lot more innovation areas are not well known… Is Microsoft losing the cloud apps?

Let me share with you the perspective that I have as owner of the Microsoft Cloud initiative for Latin America:

  • On March 4, 2010 Steve Ballmer announced that moving forward, the Cloud was the #1 priority for Microsoft. There were no service announcements, but only the aspiration to bring the false perceptions to reality and to lead the "enterprise cloud”. Previously it was not our “top” priority.
  • All industry players and companies agree to three benefits the cloud brings: Agility as #1, a new economic model with no upfront costs as second and finally getting rid of deployment and management functions that do not add value. Secondary benefits include mobile access, lowering carbon consumption and others.

Microsoft is the only Cloud provider that:

1. Provides flexibility to run in-premise or on the cloud.

o Traditional Enterprise IT vendors want to enable the datacenter so that non-IT departments can consume services per hour/terabyte.

o Internet companies want to move “everything to the cloud”. They cannot offer a “dedicated cloud” for specific customizations. Microsoft recommends to companies over 15,000 seats to evaluate dedicated cloud inside Microsoft datacenters. Mode details to follow.

o Only Microsoft – the leader on software business – offers the capability to execute processes in-premise, on private or remote private cloud or on a public cloud.

2. Microsoft is that only company that has solid offers across IAAS, PAAS and SAAS. Sure, you can choose SaaS offerings from multiple vendors, but how are they going to be integrated long term? Sure, you can choose an IaaS provider but how well integrated is it to their SaaS offerings?

o IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service. Microsoft enables enterprises to provide software services and computing/storage per consumption with two main offerings: virtualization and physical+virtual systems management. The competitive offer costs at least 6 times more but the channels makes a lot more money selling it…

o PaaS – Platform as a Service. A new level of abstraction and automation beyond IaaS enables to build custom and commercial solutions for the cloud. Targeting to developers using .NET, Java and PHP among others. If you are building new solutions, you must consider it.

o SaaS - Software as a Service. Microsoft software as a service portfolio is already extensive, but let’s focus on Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Services): It includes e-mail (Exchange online), collaboration (Sharepoint Online), web conferencing (Live meeting) and real-time communications (Office communications Online). Starting at $10 per user per month and down if provides great performance, service level agreements, reliability, control, end user high productivity and great mobile devices support.

3. Microsoft leads the “enterprise cloud” . We believe that the consumer cloud differs significantly from the enterprise cloud. On the first one, Microsoft has over 15 years experience: 600M users, 369M hotmail users… Most IaaS competitors cannot demonstrate they operate at this levels. Let’s focus on the businesses

o Microsoft already has more than 1.4M paying customers. 7 of the top 10 energy companies, 13 of the top 20 telecos, 15 of the 20 top financial institutions and 16 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies already have chosen Microsoft Online. More than 500 government entities, 50% of Fortune 50 companies… Over 40 million paid seats. Other SaaS providers have many “free” customers but limited paying customers.


On Latin America we launched the Microsoft cloud services were made available April 9, 2010. Customers on Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil were running production systems on top of our Windows Azure Platform that same day. We exceeded 10,000 SaaS paid seats on the first three weeks. I’m currently responsible for the Cloud readiness of over 1000 employees in the region – delivering the message and benefits to ALL our customers and partners in the very short term is the next step but… Microsoft already leads the enterprise cloud.


Some frequent questions:

How do I get ready to move to the Cloud? As you do today, needs and requirements need to be understood. The existence of a management and identity infrastructures will be important. Move low risk applications immediately. Activate your developers to Windows and SQL Azure.

What about Cloud security? Nothing connected to the internet can be considered 100% safe. Microsoft relies on third party certifications (SAS, ISO, FISMA…). Read more on privacy. Some leading SaaS providers DO NOT allow third parties to inspect their datacenters.. Security suggestions for software developers.

Do I own my data on the Cloud? Each customer owns and controls their data. Microsoft doesn’t access, modifies or deletes information unless required to do so. Open Data Protocol (OData) and vertical/government specific (e.g.  OGDI) allow for publishing data on a consistent format. Furthermore – our commercial model is not based on advertising or mining of user data.

What if the Cloud is not available? Service level agreements are important, we offer 99.9% and above financially backed plans. Cloud only is NOT “good enough” for many customers.

Does moving to the clouds means immediate savings and higher productivity? Not for all. Many large customers have the infrastructure, people and processes to run their IT at a very low fixed cost. But most do not. In general there is immediate productivity because we offer the same software on-premise now on the cloud.

Will my current application run on the Cloud? We are working to deliver a consistent software development model. Today Windows Azure offers a new layer of abstraction and automated management. Microsoft offers great interoperability HTTP, XML, SOAP, REST for connecting cloud services to in-premise solutions.

What is the licensing model for the Cloud? Another unique advantage is that Microsoft offers licensing that can cover in-premise, on the cloud or hybrid users in a single model. Our customers decide when is the right moment to move to the cloud.