“We have some customers saying they’re going to be out of their own data centers in two years, others say they have data in their data centers and it’s going to stay there for 10 years,” says Russinovich. “The journey till take time and customers in the meantime have business requirements.”
It’s the second group who will be interested in Azure Stack, for working with that data. “What we hear from the majority of customers today is that the benefit they see is isolation,” adds Russinovich. They want the speed and flexibility of the PaaS services that are built in to Azure Stack, as well as to be ready for when they can move to cloud. “As usage matures and they understand the value, the hybrid approach could be more much more interesting.” And he notes “we’re not trying to convince customers to stay on premise. They’re making that decision.”
If those enterprise customers are right about what they need, Microsoft can turn Windows Server into a private and hybrid cloud platform that’s in sync with its Azure cloud in a way no other cloud provider can match, addressing worries about regulation and data sovereignty, or latency problems working against data on their own servers. “If that’s the blocking issue for a customer adopting Azure, in the broad sense, we expect this to accelerate adoption,” Neil says. And if enterprises are wrong about what they need, Azure is still growing fast, with over 90,000 new subscribers a month.
To Microsoft, it’s all the same thing. “Azure, in its grand sense, is the platform for customers who want to build and modernise their application portfolio,” says Neil. “And we are giving them choices to host the modern services that power that application experience in our data center, or in their own data center where their IT staff operate them.”
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