Microsoft is "all-in" with cloud computing, and it's not worried about potential negative impacts the cloud could have on its traditional on-premise software business.
At the D8 conference Thursday, the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg asked Steve Ballmer whether the cloud represents a threat to Microsoft's traditional business, and the Microsoft CEO struck a characteristically optimistic tone.
"There’s nothing bad for us in the trend. It’s all good," Ballmer said. "But it’s a transition and as such, it’s a period of tumult. So we need to be smarter and more vigilant. But not because we’re moving from a world that’s fundamentally good for us to a world that’s not. We’re moving from a world that’s good for us to a world that’s potentially even more good for us."
Travis Fisher, executive vice president at Inacom Information Systems, a Salisbury, Md.-based solution provider, understands why Microsoft is bullish on the cloud's future impact on its business.
"Microsoft is going to be able to enjoy a positive pricing delta that factors in the cost of hardware, data backup, and electricity related to an on-premise server deployment," he said. "They haven’t been able to capitalize on this before."
Microsoft in February launched Windows Azure, its cloud development platform. Azure's tight integration with the existing Windows ecosystem means that Microsoft's army of developers will be able to keep using their Visual Basic and .Net skills as they transition to the cloud. Microsoft has invested vast sums on building the data centers to run Azure, and it's banking that developers will embrace the platform.
For a company that has made most of its money from on-premise software, Azure was a bit late in coming, but Microsoft partners believe the company is now on the right track.
"I think Microsoft, being the large company that it is, reacted a little slowly to delivering their solutions from above, as this was not 'their way' of doing business," said Steve Hall, CEO of District Computers, a Microsoft Gold partner in Washington, D.C. "But they've made a huge shift and invested a ton of money and research into the cloud."
Azure is a huge bet on Microsoft's part, but it's one that comes with certain risks, notes Sandy Bateh, vice president of the Microsoft national alliance at Idea Integration, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based solution provider
"If Ballmer assumes that he will get the business on-premise or in the cloud then it is a win-win for Microsoft. But when you give the customer a choice of moving from an on-premise situation to cloud, then you do open the door to competitors' cloud options," said Bateh.
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