Microsoft's software-plus-services strategy, which covers areas ranging from on-premises software to full-blown public and private cloud services, is nowhere more evident than in the company's approach to the federal sector.
Microsoft's "Software + Services"
strategy-delivering bits to customers in a variety of ways, from on-premises
software to full-blown public and private cloud services-is nowhere more
evident than in the company's approach to the federal sector.
Perhaps it is because of federal rules, regulations, procurement policies
and whatnot, but in the federal sector, Microsoft's strategy, which many have
criticized as blurry if not over-hyped, becomes as clear as a cloudless day.
At a FedScoop Cloud Computing Shoot Out here on Dec. 8, Susie Adams,
Microsoft's CTO for the federal sector, and
Yousef Khalidi, a Microsoft distinguished engineer and member of the founding
team that created the core of Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud platform, helped
deliver some of that clarity.
In back-to-back conversations with eWEEK, Adams and Khalidi laid out the
Microsoft plan to deliver software across the "full spectrum," from
on-premises IT to the cloud-including private cloudlike environments-and to
take the lessons learned in doing so and parlay those back into the product and
"We're taking our learnings from the process of building Azure and
putting that back into the Windows Server product and our other
technology," Khalidi said.
Moreover, "We fundamentally don't believe that private clouds are going
to go away," Adams said, noting that certain
agencies with sensitive information and workloads will never want to see that
stuff in a public cloud environment.
Although Windows Azure is a public cloud technology, "We have dedicated
offerings-dedicated clouds [if you will]," Adams
said. This consists of a dedicated network pipe, computing services that
Microsoft runs, and the customer "manages who gets access and we run it
This dedicated model has been around in the federal space for about two
years, Adams said. Meanwhile, Windows Azure has been
around as a technology preview for a year, "and we have several federal
customers using it in preview mode," she said.
A Windows Azure appliance?
But what will Microsoft do to deliver Windows Azure for private cloud
"I can tell you what we won't be doing. We have not announced an Azure
appliance," Adams quipped. "We'll take the
learnings with the move to the cloud and include those changes in the products
we ship-so our customers and partners can do private cloud environments."
As examples of the "learnings" from the move to the cloud finding
their way into Microsoft products, Adams cited Exchange
and Windows Server.
"Exchange 2007 was not built from the ground up to be multitenant, but
after the lessons we learned in working in the cloud space, we looked at what
we should do with Exchange 2010 and we built it from the ground up to be multitenant.
And the same goes for SharePoint and all of our other platform products. And
with Windows Server we added another piece to this that allows it to be
elastic," she said, speaking of the AppFabric technology Microsoft
announced at its Professional Developers Conference in Los
Angeles in November.
Regarding the evolving programming model for the cloud, she said, "We're
trying to take it up a layer ... so developers can write their apps using PHP,
Python, Ruby, Java or whatever. That's really the value of platform as a service
and that's where Azure's value is. The government sees the value in traditional
infrastructure as a service and they see this as a way to add innovation."