Microsoft’s Balmer offers a Rally-cry for Partner Cloud Investment

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Highlights of Microsoft’s 2010 Partner Conference

Beth Vanni, Director, Market Intelligence, Amazon Consulting

How can a company that literally owns the desktop and has one of the largest ISV communities not be actively talking about the cloud? It’s clear that after much criticism of its somewhat divided “Software + Services” strategy and its late entry into mobile device support, the Redmond giant is serious about the cloud. Or at least that’s the impression we came away with from the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

By definition of its product strategy and customer legacy, Microsoft has to live in two worlds. On one hand they have to actively address the here and now — nearly 400,000 business PCs that are ready for a Windows 7 and/or Windows 2010 upgrades. And Windows 7 has been very successful in its first seven months (namely 150 million licenses).  On the other hand, the company has to paint its future for outsourced and cloud software services.  They have invested heavily in its Business Productivity On-Line Suite (BPOS) and Dynamic CRM on-line services,  and executives shared today that the much-awaited Azure development environment now has a full 10,000 paying customers, addressing the SaaS needs of both ISVs and corporations creating custom applications.

Despite this balancing act of promoting on-premise and cloud solutions, conference attendees heard nothing but cloud references in each keynote product and strategy presentation.

“There is no question that Microsoft has decided to embrace the path to the cloud”, stated Steve Ballmer, CEO. “Literally, thousands of customers are migrating to Office and Sharepoint online services monthly.”

The company actively endorses the notion that hybrid private and public clouds will coexist, and that customers will therefore demand a common software development and management set of tools across those two environments. “No one else can do that – Google, Salesforce.com, Oracle won’t take you there,” asserted Balmer.

Each of the four Microsoft executives touted their unique position of offering each and every part of the complete cloud environment; Software as a Service (BPOS, Dynamics), Platform as a Service (Azure) and Infrastructure as a Service (HyperV virtualization).

Some interesting product announcements supporting this “all-in” cloud strategy include the new “Project Dallas” business intelligence solution which combines corporate with industry data in a new business intelligence tool, the new Azure datacenter appliance, and Windows Intune, a new desktop management tool.

Last year was Microsoft’s year of major product upgrades. 2010 is a year of connecting all those products to a cohesive and compelling commitment to the cloud.

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