Microsoft just came up with a clever plan to help meet its goal of $US20 billion in annual cloud revenue by mid-2018. It will now let companies use its cloud technology, Azure, inside their own businesses.
See, lots of companies want to take advantage of cloud computing, where applications are run at large scales from tremendous data center. But they don’t have the time, resources, or expertise to take their apps from their server room and make them work all over again on some other guy’s server setup.
Today, Microsoft is trying to change that equation with the announcement of Microsoft Azure Stack, which lets your company’s IT pros install a full version of Microsoft’s Azure cloud software on their own servers.
Which means that if you write an application once, it can run just fine on your own servers, in Microsoft’s cloud, or a little in both.
“This approach is unique in the industry and gives your developers the flexibility to create applications once and then decide where to deploy them later,” writes Microsoft in a blog entry.
Indeed, “a little in both” is an important idea in the cloud computing world right now: Businesses don’t want to give up control of all of their data to the Microsofts and Amazons of the world, but they also want to take advantage of the flexibility, high scale, and cost savings that the cloud can bring.
And so enterprises are turning to something called “hybrid cloud,” where software is hosted from the data center and the cloud at once. The idea is that it’s the best of both worlds. Microsoft says this new Azure Stack makes it easy to do, since it lets you use the same cloud technology on your own servers that Microsoft does in its own Azure data centres.
Even if you don’t want to use its Azure service, Microsoft still wants to sell you stuff to enable the hybrid cloud. The company also announced an update to its systems management software called Microsoft Operations Management Suite. It will let companies keep an eye on applications and storage running not only on Microsoft platforms (like Azure), but also on competing web services, like Amazon Web Services, VMware, and OpenStack.
Basically, wherever you want to run an application, Microsoft wants to meet you in the middle and make it easier to run it. It’s a drastic turnaround from the old way of thinking, but Microsoft’s cloud is big business, and it wants to keep the momentum going by getting customers any way it can.