The way Steve Ballmer sees it, Microsoft's cloud isn't the biggest out there, but it's the only cloud that can do everything that businesses need it to do.
Microsoft now has "something over a million servers" powering its cloud business, which is a smaller number than Google uses but more than what Amazon runs, Ballmer told a gathering of around 10,000 partners Monday at the opening of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston.
The combination of Windows Azure for public cloud, and Windows Server 2012 for private clouds, is something that these "pretenders that come from the consumer world" can't match, Ballmer said.
Cloud vendors don't talk much about their internal operations, which is why it was surprising to hear Ballmer drop this figure into his annual address to Microsoft partners.
In a June report, U.K.-based analyst firm Netcraft estimated that Amazon is using 158,000 servers.
In 2011, Data Center Knowledge reported that Google was using 900,000 servers.
Microsoft believes its key advantage over Google and Amazon is that neither has a product for enterprises that want to run a private cloud in their own data center.
"Who's offering public and private cloud? It's really just us," Ballmer said.
Actually, Rackspace sells both, and VMware is building out its public cloud so it'll be able to do the same, with the help of its vCloud ecosystem partners.
Ballmer's point appears to be that Microsoft, which first launched Windows Azure in 2010, has a deeper enterprise pedigree, and it has gained a ton of hybrid cloud experience from Azure.
Microsoft first started investing in the cloud to support its own internal apps, and Azure is "battle-tested" because it's passed the high bar that Microsoft set for itself, Ballmer said.
PUBLISHED JULY 8, 2013