Even as the Ignite conference was going on, the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, spoke about his ambitious plans for cloud computing and about the edge they have over other cloud computing service providers in the field. He disclosed a few notable points in an interview to “The Fortune” that I will talk about in this post.
According to Satya Nadella, Amazon Web Services and Google stand no chance in the competition when it comes to Microsoft. He said only Microsoft has the capability to add servers to the cloud: something that Amazon and Google can’t and won’t do. IBM, though in manufacturing servers, cannot compete with Microsoft as the latter has already built up a huge base for Microsoft Azure, one of the most trusted cloud platforms from Microsoft.
Nadella says that they have the server and that will help them in better assisting the clients in carrying out their cloud computing needs. He is obviously referring to hybrid clouds when he talks about providing servers in addition to the cloud. The cloud is Microsoft Azure, running on Microsoft’s servers while the “servers” that Nadella points out are the local clouds (running Windows Server OS) that the clients operate at their premises or elsewhere – accessible only to the companies that built them. The ability to transfer files and data between Microsoft Public cloud and local clouds running Windows Server gives them an edge over others in cloud computing. The future of cloud computing is Microsoft, if we are to believe Satya Nadella.
The three leaders in the field of cloud computing are Amazon, Microsoft and Google, with IBM and Salesforce trailing behind. There were speculations that Microsoft would buy Salesforce to further kill the competition but it backed up for unknown reasons.
While Amazon and Google are not pretty much into the hybrid cloud business, Satya Nadella takes pride in saying that the traditional servers are the secret that gives the company, an edge over the competitors. This is something that other companies can’t imitate without infringing the patent of Microsoft’s hybrid cloud model i.e., without implementing Windows Server on their machines.
The company is investing aggressively in its cloud computing platform named Azure. In Satya Nadella’s own words:
“We now have the ability to tie together the cloud and the server. That is a very unique capability that we have. So who am I competing with? Amazon has no capability to compete there. They don’t have a server. Nor does Google. Oracle doesn’t have the equivalent capability. So those are the places where we want to really excel”
There are companies like IBM etc. but they cannot attract as many clients because they started too late. HP too ventured into the public cloud but gave up after a short while, saying cloud is not their specialty. IBM is persisting and might gather some clients but it is nowhere near Microsoft when it comes to the competition in cloud computing.
Recently, Microsoft announced Azure Stack, a feature in the Windows Server that would let clients run the same kind of platform in their local data centers as they would in the Azure platform. It was a bold move but it does please their clients as they can implement the image of Azure on their local cloud platforms. With Azure Stack, it becomes easier to write programs that would run on both Azure and local clouds, running Windows Server, without any conflicts.
In short, Microsoft is betting on its server software to provide better hybrid clouds that will be the future of cloud computing. While public clouds are most used, many enterprises go for hybrid clouds for their operations. Normally, they would use public clouds for trifle tasks while employing their own clouds for real time tasks. It is not that public clouds cannot provide real-time services but the companies do not want to take risks. For example, if a company policy states that data should be maintained for 10 years, they will use the public cloud for the storage of such data while employing private clouds for other operations. That’s just an example. Real-world scenarios allow companies using Azure to do more than just store data on cloud.
Satya Nadella further added that he does not think that the server software is traditional or legacy. Rather, he thinks of it as a secret edge for the cloud services that will help Microsoft in putting up with companies’ needs of private and hybrid clouds. As most companies prefer hybrid clouds, having similar applications that can deal with both public and private clouds is more feasible and attractive as it saves time and money among other cost factors.
Nadella points out that neither Amazon nor Google has enterprise software for cloud servers and as such, they are limited to providing public clouds. Though Amazon does offer hybrid clouds, the ease of operation won’t be there as different apps will have to be developed for public and private clouds. That is a negative point and hence, he believes they are not even in the competition for the future of cloud computing. Not in competition with Microsoft, at least. He does acknowledge IBM as the closest competitor to Microsoft Azure but since it has started too late and since Microsoft has been dealing with businesses for a long, Microsoft has an edge over IBM too.
Even for companies that want entirely private clouds, Microsoft is able to cater the services using its server software – on the cloud, on mobile, and on any other practical devices. While Nadella acknowledges that others might succeed – as with the previous generations – having their own server offers an edge to Microsoft when it comes to the future of cloud computing and competition among service providers.
He also talked of the integration of Windows into the cloud:
“Windows is very much part of the cloud. But one of the fundamental things I believe is, it’s not just about one device. When I say “mobile first” or “cloud first,” to me it’s about the mobility of the app or the experience, not the mobility of the device. And if you believe that, then the control plane is really the cloud”
When people are logged into Windows operating system (Windows 8.1 and later OS), they will also be automatic logged-into the cloud and that is how they are integrated. Likewise, Office software too provides online integration. Nadella also stated that people using Enterprise Mobility Suite can manage security, identity, devices, and data loss protection across platforms like Android, iOS, and Windows. He says it is a unique capability that is available only with Microsoft.