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Microsoft Gets Aggressive with Cloud Strategy

Microsoft Gets Aggressive with Cloud Strategy
By Jennifer LeClaire

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When you combine Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud with its operating system, Microsoft’s virtualization software, development tooling and growing set of application services coming from the SaaS world, it creates this lifecycle-complete circle of software and services for enterprises and channel partners, said analyst Brad Shimmin.
 


Redmond is going deeper into the enterprise cloud. Microsoft on Monday announced its next wave of enterprise products and services aimed at helping companies tap into cloud computing opportunities and overcome IT challenges.

Part of the company’s stated goal is to drive enterprise cloud adoption. The new products complement Office 365 and other Microsoft cloud services, and also include hybrid infrastructure and modern applications.

A Hybrid Approach

Microsoft will roll out Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 on Oct. 18. The technology works to help customers build IT infrastructure that delivers continuous services and applications across clouds.

Redmond also said the new products will help enterprises create datacenters without boundaries using Hyper-V for high-scale virtualization, high-performance storage at lower costs, built-in, software-defined networking, and hybrid business continuity. The new Windows Azure Pack runs on top of Windows Server and System Center.

Building on these hybrid cloud platforms, enterprise customers can use Visual Studio 2013 and the new .NET 4.5.1 to create modern applications for devices and services. Also rolling out on Oct. 18, the new Visual Studio 2013 Modern Lifecycle Management solution promises to help development teams, businesspeople and IT managers to build and deliver better applications, faster.

New Azure Pricing

In a move that turned analysts' heads, Microsoft will offer Enterprise Agreement customers access to discounted Windows Azure prices, regardless of upfront commitment, without overuse penalties and with the flexibility of annual payments starting Nov. 1.

“Discounting prices with no penalties for overuse tells me that Microsoft understands the value of Azure,” Brad Shimmin, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, told us. “Microsoft is betting big on that service as a means of supporting what I would assume is going to be the future of their sales channel: ISV-savvy channel partners that build services on top of Microsoft’s suites of cloud solutions.”

The company also announced a strategic partnership with Equinix to provide faster Azure connections to the cloud and a new Windows Azure U.S. Government Cloud. Meanwhile, Microsoft is pushing big data buttons with the release of a second preview of SQL Server 2014 next week.

A Truly Complete Solution

The new version offers industry-leading, in-memory technologies at no additional cost, promising customers 10 times to 30 times performance improvements without application rewrites or new hardware. SQL Server 2014 also works with Windows Azure to give customers built-in cloud backup and disaster recovery.

“Azure, when you combine it with their operating system, Microsoft’s virtualization software, development tooling and growing set of application services coming from the SaaS world, creates this lifecycle-complete circle of software and services for enterprises and channel partners,” Shimmin said.

“Enterprises can go totally Microsoft in the cloud and know that as they go down the road those investments are going to pay dividends. It will be money well spent and not a risk because Microsoft is obviously creating a very solution-complete view of cloud development,” he said.

In announcing the new products, Satya Nadella, Microsoft's executive VP for Cloud and Enterprise, addressed some of the concerns for enterprises as they implement cloud computing. Nadella says it's key to work with vendors that (1) offer best-in-class software-as-a-service applications, (2) operate a global public cloud that supports a broad ecosystem of third party services, and (3) deliver multi-cloud mobility through true hybrid solutions.
 

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