Microsoft Shows It Can Play Catch-Up Ball in the Cloud
The ability to use the Windows infrastructure skills to build a path to the corporate cloud was an important, and much needed, message for the attendees at TechEd. Enterprise IT professionals face two challenges—being left behind or left out—in corporate cloud deployments. The ability to build an overarching cloud migration that carries older skills forward while bringing the scale, flexibility and cost benefits of cloud computing to the corporation allows the techies to regain a central position in their company's technology plans. So, what is next for Microsoft? Delivering the products and upgrades championed here at TechEd is at the top of the list. The company must deliver these systems not only from a technology perspective, but also from a business perspective. The company has to figure out how to price the upgrades (there's no free rides on these upgrades) in an era when computing is sold as service and older notions around limiting the number of users or compute capacity are increasingly outdated, and issues around legal liabilities for cloud contracts can make or break a deal. Anderson said the pricing will be available in July. Next on the list is education and resources for technology professionals to get comfortable with building out this computing-consistent environment. The demos at TechEd were fun to watch but were not examples of shipping products ready for corporate deployment.Microsoft at TechEd displayed an impressive capability and determination to play catch-up in the cloud computing marketplace. But it will be the company's ability to maintain pace and outpace their competition that will determine its success. Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008, authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.
In an interview, Anderson said cloud computing is still in a very early stage. That may be, but competitors—notably Amazon—are redefining the rules of corporate computing. Low margins coupled with rapid feature releases pushed out into the cloud is a new game not just for Microsoft but also for industry competitors such as Oracle and IBM as well as for customers used to a more stately pace of product development.