Microsoft wants to build a synergy between what users and IT (organizations) need – which is how it think real success will come. Microsoft calls the combination of Office 365, Azure and Dynamics, “the most complete cloud”. This is a very enterprise-focused view of course, but it is where Microsoft has had the most success, and still continues to grow quite rapidly.
Microsoft’s goal is to make the workforce more productive, provide business insights, help create new business models and leverage existing investments. NBC was mentioned as an example of Microsoft Cloud users since it uses the Microsoft Cloud to encore and stream up to 1000 live events in real-time – this is a example of new business model cited by Microsoft.
Microsoft also mentioned other businesses such as monitoring of thousands of elevators, which is a good example of how the cloud is combined with the internet of things (IoT).
Designer Paul Smith’s IT department uses Azure to power their disaster recovery. It is also possible to use a 3rd party cold storage (like Amazon Glacier) to optimize the cost of “cold-storage” support (data that is not accessed very often, typically, archives and backups).
Microsoft’s CEO points out that his company does not want to be trapped in any “application pattern”, hinting that other services may be a little too specific (are they? it depends, but there’s quite an offering out there to address nearly any needs).
Microsoft also pointed out that it “loves” Linux, lets customer instantiate about 5 flavors of Linux, and supports most popular languages like PHP, Python, node.JS, Java, C# (of course!) and more.
The point that Microsoft is trying to get across is that its cloud is not Windows-centric, not C#-centric and is not Microsoft-centric. It is possible to use a single Microsoft feature, mingled with other public clouds.
It’s important for Microsoft to put an emphasis on this because there’s still a sentiment out there that Microsoft doesn’t play well with other cloud services. How this may work for each company will depends on their unique needs.
Despite cut-throat competition, Microsoft has been doing quite well in the enterprise space. But there is a lot of room to grow. Microsoft has been pushing startups to use its platform for years, and still continues to do so aggressively.
With $4.4B of (estimated) yearly revenues, the Microsoft Cloud can compare with Amazon’s AWS cloud, which is estimated by some to generate around $5B in revenues in 2014
In each region, Microsoft has about 600,000 servers in 16 massive data centers that can each house two jumbo jets airplanes. Clients such as Milliman, AccuWeather or Heineken use massive amount of computing for their business. Microsoft thinks that in the future, more companies will need this type of scale, and they clearly mention Google and Amazon as the only companies that they see as real competitors.
Inside the data centers, the arms-race continues, and recently, Microsoft has released it;s D server, which was 60% faster than previous versions. Today, Microsoft announced the G-family of servers, which it claims to be “the largest Virtual Machines” in the public clouds, with 32 cpus, 450GB of RAM and 6.5TB of local SSD storage. They run on Intel’s latest CPU generation. It’s pretty amazing that you can instantiate this kind of compute power in a few clicks (mind the price, though).
With obvious massive-data applications like healthcare and others, it is clear that Cloud computing will continue to grow rapidly. When speaking to the Microsoft Cloud team, it seems to me that the strategy is to leverage its core Enterprise services to serve the highest-margin cloud services, while allowing customers to use lower-margin services from 3rd party clouds.
With today’s announcement of the Azure Market, it will make it easier for enterprises to pay for any apps, on any platform. For developers, this creates a powerful incentive to support Microsoft’s platform. For developers, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make their existing apps available on the market, so this seems to be a great move from Microsoft.