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Windows Azure Gaining 1,000 Customers Per Day

IaaS for Azure and inclusion of cloud use in enterprise agreements has helped Microsoft's cloud services gain momentum, says general manager Mike Neil.

Microsoft has opened two new datacenters for Azure in China. Outsiders are not allowed to own datacenter facilities in China, so Microsoft operates Azure through a partner, 21 Vianet. 21 Vianet operates Azure datacenters in both Beijing and Shanghai. "We license them the same public cloud software that we use everywhere else," Neil noted.

In Europe, Microsoft's datacenters are in Dublin and Amsterdam. In Asia, in addition to China, it has datacenters in Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia. Its long term goal is to make these centers as interoperable as possible with customers' on-premises datacenters. "We expect customers to have both on-premises private cloud and public cloud," said Neil.

On-premises private cloud, in Microsoft's parlance, is Windows Server 2012 Release 2 with System Center 2012 with Azure Pack. The combination sets up applications as workloads similar to the Hyper-V virtual machines running on Azure. Microsoft can also help customers establish bridge networks that have the same security boundaries in Azure as on-premises. "That has really resonated well with customers," Neil said.

Google and Amazon might have started sooner and established the standard, but Neil said Microsoft retains its own advantage of insight into the products the customer is using on-premises, such as Visual Studio and SQL Server, and tying them into the cloud. To match this "is a real challenge for Google and Amazon. They're all (all public cloud) or nothing vendors. They don't have an on-premises option. Most customers don't like that," he said.   

That's not quite true at enterprises that have gotten comfortable making use of substantial amounts of open-source code. VMware now competes with Microsoft Azure by offering Cloud Foundry, both on Amazon and on-premises through its Pivotal subsidiary. Cloud Foundry with four services piled on top of it, including open-source MySQL and RabbitMQ messaging service, is known as the Pivotal One Platform. It's now available either in an Amazon datacenter or for on-premises use.

Nevertheless, Neil said Microsoft will be able to outstrip VMware when it comes to operating large-scale, public-cloud datacenters.

"Our approach contrasts with VMware's. The challenge they have is little experience" in running cloud datacenters. "They've been a little schizophrenic about what they're doing in the public cloud," he claimed. It's "capital intensive" to establish cloud datacenters, and he described VMware's move to do so as more fainthearted than Microsoft's.

VMware has opened vCloud datacenters in Santa Clara, Calif., Sterling, Va., Las Vegas, and Dallas. It's also signed a deal to provide vCloud services out of datacenters run by the Savvis cloud unit of CenturyLink.

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User Rank: Strategist
11/20/2013 | 2:35:10 PM
An honorable practice: Eating your own dogfood
Agree, rradina, Eating your own dog food means you're willing to do yourself as a software user what you urge others to do. The term was popularized by David Cutler as his team developed Windows NT. They were not only going to produce a good operating system, Microsoft was going to use it. Windows Server, in my mind, has met that test. (Cutler also lead development of Digital Equipment's VMS, a great operating system.) In a similar vein, I think Mike Neil is saying that Microsoft not only urges people to use cloud computing but is illustrating that it knows how to build and run cloud infrastructure. The implicit comparison is with VMware, as I remember the conversation. VMware came to its own cloud data centers only recently. 
User Rank: Ninja
11/20/2013 | 12:37:39 PM
Re: China investment
If cost is why they built one in China, I'm sure you can pay extra to keep services out of China.  However, they are probably in China for reasons other than cost.  Performance, latency and, given our own NSA's behavior, comfort for Chinese consumers and busineses.

What is possibly a reverse concern is whether or gaining access to any data center could be used to then bypass certain front-line defenses at other data centers.  If any country gets ticked at a foreign company, they can certainly and without question confiscate access at a local data center vs. one located in another country regardless of how many international agreements might be in place.
User Rank: Ninja
11/20/2013 | 12:28:36 PM
Re: Microsoft Eats Its Cloud Dog Food
Showing my age but a long, long time ago before Windows was capable of running in the server room, Microsoft was rumored to use a lot of IBM's stuff to run their back office.  Personally, I heard they used a lot of i-Series (AS400) machines.  When MS preached NT for the back office, detractors pointed to these rumors as proof it was just a toy.  To us old guys, perhaps eating ones own dogfood is not as "automatic" as younger folks expect and it's reassuring that Microsoft is running its own business on Azure.
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/20/2013 | 10:02:38 AM
China investment
While having two of its major data centers in China, and run by a Chinese-national partner, may help in terms of keeping costs low, I can't see that as a selling point for US and European companies. Might it even make it difficult to get government contracts? Or, can MS promise data will stay at a specific center?
User Rank: Author
11/20/2013 | 8:54:16 AM
Microsoft Eats Its Cloud Dog Food
He paints it as impressive that MS is eating its own dog food --using its own Azure technologies. I would argue that is the least its customers would expect.
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