Guide To Cloud Computing - InformationWeek
Cloud // Software as a Service
02:45 PM

Guide To Cloud Computing

The market is getting crowded with Web-based software and storage offerings. Here's what you need to know about the cloud computing strategies of Amazon, Google, Salesforce, and five other leading vendors.

If any technology company has had its cloud strategy questioned, it's Microsoft. Now, after a couple of years of putting the pieces into place, Microsoft is showing progress.

Some vendors envision a future where most, if not all, IT resources come from the cloud, but Microsoft isn't one of them. Its grand plan is to provide "symmetry between enterprise-based software, partner-hosted services, and services in the cloud," chief software architect Ray Ozzie said a few months ago. More simply, Microsoft calls it "software plus services."

Microsoft's first SaaS offerings for business, rolling out this year, are Dynamics CRM Online, Exchange Online, Office Communications Online, and SharePoint Online. Each will be available in a multitenant version, generally for small and midsize businesses, and a single-tenant version for companies requiring 5,000 or more licenses. For consumers, Microsoft's online services include Windows Live, Office Live, and Xbox Live.

A handful of large companies--Autodesk, Blockbuster, Energizer, and Ingersoll-Rand among them--are early adopters. Anyone who doubts that Microsoft has entered the cloud services game should consider this: Coca-Cola plans to subscribe to 30,000 seats of Microsoft-hosted Exchange and SharePoint by next year.

Microsoft senior VP Chris Capossela says customers can mix and match hosted and on-premises versions of its software, an attractive option for companies with branch offices that lack IT staff. Microsoft hasn't disclosed pricing for its online services, but Capossela says it's naive to think that cloud services will be cheaper than on-premises software over the long haul. "You're going to pay forever," he says. "It's a subscription, for goodness' sake."

What's next? A project called MatrixDB would extend on-premises SQL Server databases to Microsoft-hosted databases in the cloud. That's still a couple of years away, but it hints at future possibilities. And Microsoft points to BizTalk Services, its hosted business process management software, as one element in a forthcoming "Internet service bus" that functions like an enterprise service bus, albeit online.

As for the Windows operating system, Microsoft's upcoming synchronization platform, Live Mesh, and some of the Windows Live services will be more tightly integrated with it.

The shift to cloud services has forced Microsoft to rethink not just the way its products are architected, but its data center strategy, too. For years, Microsoft leased its major data centers, but it has now begun to design, construct, and own them, with U.S. facilities recently completed or under construction in Illinois, Texas, and Washington, and another under way in Dublin, Ireland.

5 of 9
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll