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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

That's a huge advantage to us, because our sales force today spends a lot of time explaining the advantages of the new release and why a customer should go through the upgrade themselves.

When we talk to readers about cloud, management is always an issue; security's always an issue. Can you talk about what Microsoft is doing to address those big worries about cloud computing? We've invested very heavily in both of those areas for quite a number of years. Let me take them separately because I think the issues are somewhat different.

In the case of management, the advantages and benefits that accrue from the cloud largely have to do with changes in the operational environment and the way things are managed.

So, there are some natural advantages from a management perspective. One of the things we are doing is enabling customers to use their existing management tools, like System Center, to help bridge the gap from where they are today into the cloud environment. And so they'll have a consistent set of management facilities and tools and one pane of glass, so to speak, that they can look across both of these environments. In contrast, security is different because you're moving into, in many cases -- particularly a public cloud -- a shared environment. There's a need for an incremental set of security capabilities to be added.

Those are things that we are rapidly advancing. This environment still is nascent. There are still definitely areas where the cloud is not ready to take on all of the applications and services that customers want. I don't recommend [that] a banking customer move their core banking system to the cloud right now. I would not tell any bank to do that at this point, because the underlying facilities and services in the public cloud to handle the regulatory concerns, the security concerns, are simply not there. Five years from now, 10 years from now, I think they probably will be.

Most of the areas where you look at a focused or a finished application, like messaging, for example, we are able to work through and provide the security that's necessary, the regulatory requirements that are necessary to handle just about every industry right now. So, in most countries around the world -- every country is somewhat different -- we are able to handle the needs of financial services organizations, pharmaceuticals, I mean the more regulated industries. We have examples of customers in all of those industries that are using our cloud services.

The cloud is kind of a misnomer. It's more like multiple clouds. What is Microsoft doing to drive interoperability and standardization across different cloud platforms to make it easier for customers to bridge them? There's obviously a number of emerging standards that are going to be important here. They're still emerging, so knowing which ones are important and which ones are not [is difficult]. We're involved in that. I think, in the end, people will say, 'The most important characteristic is that I need the cloud services that I have to fully interoperate. And then I also need to have choice of vendor." Those are probably the two main things. In both areas, we're investing significantly.

 

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