Take That Google: Microsoft Hypes High-Profile Cloud Computing Customer Wins

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Fresh off of its cloud computing-heavy Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft on Thursday highlighted a trio of high-profile customers that have signed on to use the software giant's cloud computing services.

Microsoft showcasing its increasing cloud customer list is also a jab at cloud competitor Google as the pair of powerhouses dukes it out on the cloud computing front in a battle of one-upmanship.

Microsoft has long been touting its "all-in" cloud computing mantra, and at WPC earlier this month Microsoft backed up its lofty cloud computing goals by bringing partners on board with new incentives and tools for solution providers to leverage as they dive into the cloud pool. And at today's Financial Analyst Meeting (FAM), Microsoft continued that momentum, heralding three blockbuster customers that picked Microsoft for the cloud: The Dow Chemical Co., Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and the University of Georgia.

The three new deals, Microsoft said, bump its cloud customer list to include 13 of the top 20 telecoms, 15 of the top 20 global banks and 16 of the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies. Microsoft added that more than 10,000 users in more than 40 countries have signed on with its Windows Azure cloud platform in the nine months it's been available and more than 10,000 schools in more than 130 countries -- totaling 11 million students, staff and educators globally -- have enrolled in its Live@edu cloud service.

Microsoft said Dow Chemical has signed on to move enterprise users to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), the company's cloud collaboration offering, which includes Exchange Online, Office Communications Online and SharePoint Online.

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts also bought BPOS, Microsoft said, putting 17,000 individuals in its corporate office and other properties onto the system. Additionally, Hyatt picked up licenses for 40,000 "deskless" associates who work in the hotel chain's locations in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean without full-time PC access.

Lastly, Microsoft trumpeted adding the University of Georgia to its roster with Microsoft's Live@edu service, a no-cost suite of easy-to-use online communication and collaboration services based on other Microsoft offerings like Outlook, Office and Exchange. Leveraging Live@edu gives 85,000 Georgia students, faculty and staff access to email, calendars and documents in the cloud from any Internet-connected device or Web browser.

"The Microsoft cloud services ecosystem creates new opportunities for our customers," Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner said in a statement. "It opens up new markets for businesses, improves operational efficiency and productivity, and transforms what IT can deliver to advance business goals."

Microsoft's cloud customer chest beating comes as main cloud rival Google struggles with one of its most highly publicized, oft-touted cloud computing deployments, the City of Los Angeles. Last week, Google and implementation partner CSC confirmed that they had missed the June 30 deadline to have roughly 34,000 L.A. municipal employees cut over to Google Apps, Google's online productivity and collaboration offering.

The L.A. cloud project hit speed bumps when the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) voiced security concerns regarding the Google system. Google has said it will address those concerns and the project should be completed within the next couple of months. In the meantime, the LAPD will remain on the city's old Novell GroupWise system.

Meanwhile, Google and Microsoft are competing head-to-head in several other cloud computing areas. Both are gunning for government email gigs; and both offer cloud-based productivity apps, Microsoft with Office Web Apps 2010 and Google with Google Apps. The contentions battle even has some partners saying that Google Apps could eventually supplant Microsoft Exchange.


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