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Q&A: Microsoft Exec Bob Muglia On Cloud, Azure

Muglia talks about coordinating between the Azure cloud and the existing data center and calls the the cloud "the biggest thing I've seen in 20 years."
InformationWeek: What is Azure's AppFabric?

Bob Muglia: AppFabric expands what we provide in the way of application services inside Windows. It can provide failover, data caching... It speaks to our approach to Windows that the application server is not a separate product. AppFabric helps scale out applications by creating and managing more instances…

InformationWeek: Do you think Microsoft customers are interested in the hybrid cloud, where a cloud-like operation in the private data center coordinates activity with a public cloud?

Bob Muglia: It's really early. Everybody is interested in understanding what the cloud is about, but it's really early for production systems (in the cloud). There'll be a transition over the next 5-10 years, I completely agree. I think the cloud will be as important as people currently think it will. Gartner has it at the peak of the hype cycle right now.

InformationWeek: Will your customers just use Azure or will they use several clouds?

Bob Muglia: They'll use several, to be honest. Big enterprises will not use just one cloud. Every application provider will have to provide its application in some form of cloud.

A group of global CIOs was giving me a hard time about application upgrades. They want that stuff transferred back onto the vendor. The cloud is one way to do it. (In the cloud, the vendor upgrades the application, not the customer.) You're going to see every application provider provide their software in different ways. I'd love to see all of them offer their applications through the Microsoft cloud, but they will provide them in other ways too. The enterprise will consume services from several sources.

InformationWeek: Active Directory supplying identity management to both the enterprise and the cloud user is a plus, isn't it?

Bob Muglia: Federated identity is so important. If an employee has been fired, you want to clear his identity out of multiple clouds all at the same time. That's a small example of the complexity of this environment. All services are important, but identity management is foundational; it's most important. Without it, these things are just toys.

InformationWeek: So "the cloud" looks like a real phenomenon at this point?

Bob Muglia: This trend is here to stay. This is the biggest thing I've seen in 20 years.


Unified computing platforms promise to consolidate everything and anything into a single chassis. Find out about that and more in Network Computing’s second all-digital issue. Download the issue here (registration required).