Microsoft bets the farm on the cloud

Microsoft head-honcho Steve Ballmer says almost the whole company will soon be working on cloud stuff. Speaking at UW, he outlined how the softies are being fueled by fluffyness. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers read between the lines.

By Richi Jennings. March 5, 2010.


Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention Your Devo Color...     Joseph Tartakoff kicks off:

On Thursday CEO Steve Ballmer said Microsoft was “betting our company” on the cloud. About 70 percent of Microsoft ... works on cloud-related projects right now; that figure will reach 90 percent within a year, he said. ... “We’re all in,” he says. “This is the bet for our company.” ... The “cloud” has always been a source of tension at Microsoft; Ballmer refers to ... Ray Ozzie’s famous 2006 memo, in which he said that advertising-supported services and software presented a fundamental challenge to the company’s business.


Is this a change in strategy for Microsoft, which has now launched a ‘Cloud’ website? For several years now, Microsoft has said it believes in a future of “software plus services”.

Nick Eaton adds:

Ballmer [was] speaking at the University of Washington. He told an audience of computer-science students they must be agile when trying to break into the ever-changing tech industry. ... Cloud computing, as a concept, has been around longer than the term. Microsoft ... is moving forward with its strategic mantra of "three screens and the cloud." ... the PC, the mobile device and the television.


Microsoft has its Windows Azure cloud platform, through which users can create cloud applications and host data in Microsoft data centers. There are other companies offering similar, but also differentiated, products, including Amazon's EC2 and Google's App Engine.

Microsoft's David Bowermaster has video, albeit requiring Silverlight:

Today in Seattle, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took a broader look at cloud computing. ... Steve discussed what’s ahead for computing, generally, with a particular focus on how cloud computing will change the way people and businesses use technology. Here is a video of the speech, which was delivered in the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's Steve Clayton is "embarrassed":

I work on this stuff every day and have done for the last 2 years and even I was surprised when I stepped back from the coal face how much Microsoft has going on that is cloud related. ... I suspect many would be happy to be called late if they had a service with 20m+ paying users as XBOX Live has. I’m not aiming to be boastful here…in fact I’m a little embarrassed that it’s taken me until now, a guy who works on the cloud, to realise all of the assets we have.


Steve sent an internal email on the gravity of his talk today and as often happens, that’s in the public domain. He urges the company to move at “cloud speed” and I can assure you if my work is anything to go by, that is happening already.

Luckily, Jason Kincaid has Ballmer's internal email:

My goal was to challenge people to look at the cloud more broadly and understand the multidimensional nature of the cloud transformation happening today. Other companies have defined the cloud in a narrow, one-dimensional way. ... The cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities ... learns and helps you learn, decide and take action ... enhances your social and professional interactions ... wants smarter devices ... drives server advances that drive the cloud.


Of course, there is more work to do. ... We need to be (and are) willing to change our business models. ... We must move at “cloud speed”. ... We need to be crystal clear about the value we provide to all our customers.

And Wilson Rothman concludes a conclusion from Ballmer's conclusion:

Ballmer concludes with the sentiment that "the Cloud fuels Microsoft and Microsoft fuels the cloud." Take that as you wish.


The cloud is as nebulous as you think, but at least these are areas worth thinking about more. ... It's taking shape, and clearly in the hands of only a few companies. Google is the biggest, and arguably Microsoft is #2. In other words, we need to listen to Ballmer, cuz he'll be driving it, at least for now.

So what's your take?
Get involved: leave a comment.

And finally...

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter, or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

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