Microsoft: Cloud computing won't hurt us

New Microsoft Server & Tools chief makes first public appearance

Cloud computing is widely perceived as a threat to Microsoft, because the maker of Windows and Microsoft Office earns the lion's share of its money selling licenses for packaged software.

But Microsoft's new Server & Tools President, in his first public appearance since taking the top spot, said cloud computing is another opportunity Microsoft can exploit just as it did with the birth of the PC.

Microsoft cloud stumbles: Windows Azure turns 1 in 'anemic' market

"If you look at our history, it's always been about taking an inflection point and being the democratizing force behind," said Satya Nadella, who replaced longtime Microsoft executive Bob Muglia as the Server & Tools chief in February this year.

"At a philosophical level, if you say there is a fundamental change in architecture, we have to embrace it and ride it," Nadella continued, during a 20-minute on-stage discussion Wednesday with Eric Savitz of Forbes at the GigaOM Structure Conference.

Microsoft has always been about "low price and high volume," Nadella also said, making the case that the consumption-based economics of cloud computing fits into Microsoft's sweet spot.

"We're not the ones with high license fees," he said. "I look at this as structurally a very beneficial thing for us. But, sure, we have to innovate."

Windows Azure, Microsoft's platform-as-a-service cloud, opened for business more than a year ago but hasn't gained the adoption seen by Amazon's infrastructure-as-a-service offering or Salesforce's PaaS cloud.

Still, Nadella insisted that Amazon's success can help Microsoft, because Amazon hosts Windows Server instances.

"A good chunk of our Windows business, we do through Amazon," he said.

Going forward, application developers could build services that use Azure for computing and Amazon for storage, and even make calls back to the customer's internal data center, he said.

"My approach would be to partner as broadly as possible with anyone who is in this business," Nadella said.

While Nadella oversees Windows Server and Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud ambitions extend much further with Office 365, a hosted version of Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Microsoft Office. Office 365 is set to launch out of beta next week, while its predecessor, the BPOS service, suffered an outage just before Nadella took the stage.

Office 365 isn't Nadella's responsibility, but he was willing to admit something other Microsoft executives try to avoid discussing: Office Web Apps, the online versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel, are limited.

"They're pretty good, but they're not as good as the Office client is today," Nadella said of Office Web Apps.

Regarding Azure, Nadella pitched Microsoft's ability to offer both public cloud services and the software necessary to build private clouds. The Windows Azure appliance has allowed customers like Fujitsu and eBay to bring Microsoft cloud technology into their own data centers, he said. Fujitsu, for example, turned to the Azure appliance when it came to putting mainframe applications in a cloud service.

Customers often aren't willing to trust all their applications to a cloud vendor, Nadella noted. While a company might host a website on a cloud service, the same company may keep its core billing system in-house. This is due both to performance and security concerns.

Nadella said the industry needs "great encryption technology for anything that is moving over the wire," adding that: "I think security will remain a big topic for the industry at large. But it's not just a cloud issue. It's an issue for anyone with any type of network."

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

Read more about cloud computing in Network World's Cloud Computing section.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftcloud computinginternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?