A Cloud On The Horizon


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Recently, there has been a lot of discussion at Microsoft around Cloud Computing. Cloud computing, the consumption of technology services over the Internet, has been an industry ‘hot topic’ for some time now. At Microsoft, we believe this is absolutely the future of computing, and we’re all in.

 

In early March, Steve Ballmer gave a presentation on our strategy for cloud computing. He made it very clear the cloud computing will completely reshape the IT industry as a whole, and that Microsoft will be making some big changes in order to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity. As a Microsoft partner, I would encourage you to read/ watch/ learn all that you can on our cloud computing strategy, as it provides so much opportunity for partners if you’re flexible and willing to adapt to this change.

 

What is ‘Cloud Computing’?

The term ‘cloud computing’ has been around for a little while, but it can be confusing (especially for customers). In my opinion, the easiest way to explain it is to use the analogy of the electricity grid. The National Grid has an infrastructure which allows it to produce and distribute electricity. As a consumer, I pay to consume this service (in general, I pay for the amount I use, or I pay a set monthly fee). I don’t need to worry about who manages the electricity, or how it’s created – all I need to know is when I want to use some electricity, it’s available to me. Cloud computing works in a similar fashion – a company such as Microsoft has the infrastructure (in this case, a datacentre) to provide customers with computing services delivered over the Internet. Customers don’t need to install/ manage/ secure/ maintain hardware or software – they can simply consume the software when and how they wish. Cloud computing services have been around for a while (think Hotmail, XBOX Live service etc) – they now have a brand.

 

Revolution

We really believe cloud computing is the new revolution in the IT industry. Cloud computing provides so many benefits to customers, including:

- Paying for what is used

- More predictable and in most cases lower costs

- A shift from Capex to Opex

- No patching or maintenance required

- Faster deployment of the latest technologies

- Robust, multi-layered security

- Financially backed SLA

- Anywhere access for users

 

We’re not the only ones who believe cloud computing will be huge – Gartner predict that by 2012, 80% of Fortune 1000 companies will use some form of cloud computing service, and 20% of  businesses will own no IT assets.

 

Now is the time to talk to your customers about the value of the cloud, and to think about how cloud services will affect your business. My next post will discuss the benefits of the cloud for partners.

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We’re all in… are you?

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