Intronis | May 7, 2014

Following the Microsoft Path to the Cloud

When it comes to anything to do with Microsoft these days almost everything the company does in the enterprise leads back to Microsoft Azure, which may be one of the primary reasons that Microsoft chose Satya Nadella to replace Steve Ballmer as its CEO.

After all, Nadella not only led the charge in terms of shifting Microsoft to the cloud, he has made it clear that Microsoft Azure is central to everything Microsoft will do from here on out.

For solution providers all across the channel spectrum the shift to the cloud presents all kinds of challenges and opportunities. Following the migration of Microsoft Office and Microsoft Exchange to the cloud, Microsoft clearly wants more application workloads to start migrating from on premises systems to the cloud.

The challenge is that there is still a lot of inertia to overcome in terms of getting customers to migrate those workloads. It’s obviously one thing to take advantage of productivity and email application services delivered via the cloud; it’s quite another to get them to migrate mission-critical applications that they view as being core to the business.

To facilitate that process Microsoft has made recently made two moves that are likely to play a much bigger role in helping migrate existing workloads to cloud than many IT service providers may fully appreciate.

The first is the acquisition of GreenButton, a provider of cloud management software that makes it a lot easier to manage “cloudbursting” between data centers.

The basic idea is that instead of migrating an entire application workload to Microsoft Azure, IT organizations can use GreenButton software to dynamically invoke additional capacity on demand as needed.

The significance of that approach is that it not only means more usage of external Microsoft Azure capacity in the cloud; it also means that IT organizations will increasing “rightsize” their own data centers around average rather than peak application capacity demands.

The second move that Microsoft made that warrants some additional attention from IT services providers is an alliance with Apprenda, a provider of a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment originally designed to allow IT organizations to build applications on a modern PaaS platform running on premise.

Under the terms of a new alliance with Microsoft, the Apprenda PaaS can now also be deployed on Microsoft Azure to run both Microsoft.Net and Java applications.

Jesse Kliza, senior director of marketing for Apprenda, says the end goal is to make it a lot easier to deploy and manage applications across hybrid cloud computing environments in way that doesn’t force a customer to standardize on one approach or another.

In fact, over time Kliza says it’s entirely possible that the whole notion of “the cloud” may ultimately dissipate as the line between on premises systems and external services gets blurrier and blurrier.

In the meantime, it stands to reason that Microsoft will make similar alliances with any number of other PaaS providers. As those relationships continue to evolve the number of workloads moving to the cloud should steadily increase.

Of course, making these transitions to the cloud is a lot easier said than done. In fact, it may not be all that much of a coincidence that Microsoft this week published a “Successful Cloud Partners 2.0” e-book. Developed by International Data Corp. (IDC) on behalf of Microsoft, among other things IDC advises Microsoft partners to take their customers to the cloud in steps.

While most new applications are being deployed in the cloud there are still trillions of dollars of business value attached to applications running on premises. In the years ahead it’s clear a significant portion of those application workloads are going to move the cloud. The challenge facing most IT service providers now is finding a way to enable that to occur as painlessly as possible for all concerned.