Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (File photo)
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says the software giant is "all in" when it comes to cloud computing and he's relying on Bob Muglia, president of the nearly US$15 billion Server and Tools Division of Microsoft to play the hand in this high-stakes game. Muglia controls key data center products like Windows Server, SQL Server and System Center, as well as the Windows Azure platform-as-a-service (Paas) offering that is a key underpinning of the company's cloud strategy.
In this interview with IDG senior editors, Muglia talked about how customers are making the move to cloud and what they need to be doing right now. He also staked Microsoft's claim to leadership in the emerging cloud market, talked about the Windows Azure private-cloud appliance and explained what customers can learn from the City of Los Angeles' challenges using Google Apps.
How do you envision customers making the transition to the cloud?
The thing about the cloud is that it really is the delivery of IT as a service and customers being able to adopt services to run their business. It's happening at somewhat different paces based on the workload. We see some workloads like e-mail collaboration that are moving very, very rapidly towards the cloud.
Virtually every customer that we're working with on e-mail is having a conversation about [whether it] is time for them to move those workloads into a cloud service. Many are choosing yes. We're being very successful with our business productivity online services and helping customers make that transition with those workloads.
Some are saying, 'Well, maybe it isn't really the time for me. Maybe I have some regulatory issues. Maybe I feel like I run the operation efficiently myself and it's not my business issue at the moment.' But it is a conversation that is happening almost everywhere, and it is a set of workloads that is moving very, very rapidly. We see other workloads like CRM probably moving pretty quickly because of the distributed -- geographic -- nature of the force of people that work with CRM.
There are other business applications that are very well suited for the cloud. I think about an application that requires significant amounts of computing horsepower for a period of time, but then may not require it all the time, like high-performance applications, simulations, modeling, things like that. Or they're areas where you're reaching out and connecting to your supply chain or to your partners -- your sales partners and distributors.
Those are also good examples of business applications that need to be built. They're not standardized apps like e-mail, but they are business applications that are well suited to the cloud.
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