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Microsoft says its future in the cloud is bright

Thor Olavsrud | Oct. 10, 2013
Pointing to a $2 trillion opportunity as the enterprise shifts to the cloud, Microsoft says it is perfectly positioned to lead in the enterprise cloud era.

You must deliver true hybrid cloud capabilities that provide multi-cloud mobility. "When it comes to providing public cloud-class infrastructure to others for building their own clouds, I would say we're leading [our competitors]," Nadella says, noting that Microsoft's infrastructure solutions—like Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2—give customers the ability to build their own Azure-like clouds.

"You need to be able to also take the same software that you use to run your cloud and make it available to others to stand up their own clouds," he says. The result is a hybrid solution that allows customers to move across clouds without friction.

"These areas guide our enterprise cloud strategy, investments and execution," Nadella says. "These are the criteria by which I evaluate our progress and compare us against our competition, both new and old. I'd say we have done very good work. Do we have room to improve? Always. But at the end of the day, when I look across those three areas, we are the only cloud provider—new or old—who is delivering in all three to help enterprises realize the promise of the cloud."

Windows Azure Gets FedRAMP Authorization
To underscore his point, Nadella points to the new Windows Azure U.S. Government Cloud, which provides U.S. government customers with a dedicated community cloud for data, applications and infrastructure.

The cloud will be hosted in the continental U.S. and be managed by U.S. personnel. To build the cloud, Nadella says Windows Azure had to be granted FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board Provisional Authority to Operate, making it the first public cloud to attain this level of government authorization.

To bring down barriers to cloud adoption and to support a hybrid approach to cloud adoption, Microsoft plans to offer its Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers access to discounted Windows Azure prices beginning Nov. 1. Microsoft says the discounts will be available regardless of upfront commitment, without overuse penalties and with the flexibility of annual payments.

In addition, Microsoft announced a strategic partnership with Equinix, through which customers will be able to connect their networks with Windows Azure at Equinix exchange locations, providing greater throughput availability and security features.

Windows Server and System Provide Private Cloud Building Blocks
Microsoft will release Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 on Oct. 18. Together, Microsoft says they will allow customers to build data centers with Hyper-V for high-scale virtualization, high-performance storage at "dramatically lower costs," built-in software-defined networking and hybrid business continuity. The new Windows Azure Pack will run on top of both, giving enterprises and service providers the ability to deliver self-service infrastructure and platforms.

Microsoft will also release .NET 4.5.1 on Oct. 18.
Next week, the company will release a second preview of SQL Server 2014, which features new in-memory technologies to give customers a performance boost (Microsoft says between 10 times and 30 times) without having application rewrites or new hardware. Used with Azure, customers will be able to use SQL Server 2014 for built-in cloud backup and disaster recovery.


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