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3/17/2010
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Microsoft Reiterates Cloud Commitment

Microsoft executives at the Cloud Connect event echo CEO Steve Ballmer's vow that cloud computing is a key priority.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently declared that within a year, 90% of Microsoft employees will be doing something that carries out the company's commitment to cloud computing. Tuesday at the Cloud Connect event in Santa Clara, Calif., two Microsoft executives offered a few tidbits of what the software behemoth is doing today.

Microsoft is building six large data centers in North America, Northern Europe, and Asia to support its cloud computing initiatives in the word's major economies, said Matt Thompson, an 18-year Sun Microsystems veteran until a year-and-a-half ago, when he became Microsoft's general manager, developer and platform evangelism for the Azure cloud.

"We don't want to ship bits across large bodies of water," he said, allowing that service to Australia remained an unsolved problem without navigating bits across part of the Pacific. Each region has two data centers in separate locations. Microsoft built a data center near a source of cheap electricity for 300,000 servers outside Chicago and opened it for public viewing last fall.

"We want to put Microsoft data centers in the most important economies of the world. This is the single biggest build-out in the company's history. Only a few companies could make this kind of investment," Thompson added. He was one of the featured speakers opening yesterday's conference general session at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

In a 12-minute address, he echoed Ballmer at the University of Washington earlier this month: "We're all in on the cloud."

Thompson cited Project Dallas, a collaboration between Microsoft and the federal government to make massive amounts of federal data available to the public online, along with Microsoft tools for sale, such as Power Pivot, for handling the data. Data from the NASA Rover missions to Mars was on display as a product from Project Dallas at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles Nov. 16.

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