The true nature of Clouds

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO made the statement back in April that “We’re All In” when it comes to the cloud. He mentioned that over 70% of the $2.5billion Microsoft R&D budget is now focused on cloud innovation and that this will head to 90% over the next year.

This is a major indication of the level and seriousness of the investments Microsoft’s making in cloud.But perhaps this has been most valuable in underlining and making clear a commitment that the company has been taking over many years, perhaps most notably under the strategy called software + services. Ray Ozzie our Chief Architect was a key instigator of this transition back in 2005 when he joined the company and sent out the now infamous all-staff “Internet services disruption” memo. In this sense the strategy still has its feet in an S+S world, recognising that cloud adoption will take place at different speeds and for different reasons and that it is by providing choice of hosting software on premise or in the cloud that Microsoft is best placed to serve the needs of the industry. We recognise that this is not an all or nothing choice and that there is need to support hybrid scenarios that bring together the benefits of investments in on-premise software and services hosted externally in the cloud. For some it will be important to be at one or other end of the spectrum and for others it will be to sit in the middle, as a provider of platforms and solutions it is critical that Microsoft serves either end effectively.

Cloud itself, is an emerging concept that because of the breadth of technology layers it covers, is often confusing. To some it is about fully functional business applications and to others it’s about infrastructure hosting and virtualisation. However, it is my opinion that it is as a business enabler that cloud will have its most significant impact, such that one may eventually have to revisit the very definition of the enterprise itself.