Cloud is on everyones lips and has created a lot of buzz for the last few years. If there is one thing I’m certain about, it’s that cloud will be the data center of the future. It just doesn’t make any sense for businesses to keep their own data centers on-premise, and the advantages a true cloud platform can bring to the table outweights the traditional hosting providers capabilities with it’s elasticity, metering and other attributes. However – this transition will take decades to complete for large companies. Regulations has to change, cloud providers have to mature, a shift in corporate IT from being in full control to coordinate and manage a more fragmented infrastructure, legacy systems to be replaced, new business models to emerge and technology to mature all needs to happen. Naturally, this will take a long time – we are only in the beginning of a long journey towards the cloud.
In the meantime we will live in a hybrid world where we have one leg in our on-premise data centers and the other in the cloud. This will be the normal model for businesses for the foreseeable future.
As we’re getting more serious leveraging the cloud for parts of our workloads and are done with the simpler proof of concepts, pilots and silo applications we need to integrate these parts together with the rest of the portfolio of systems residing on-premise. This includes aspects such as identity management, propagation and single sign-on, consuming services residing on-premise from the cloud or vice versa, joining datasets across on-premise and the cloud, monitoring and operating hybrid solutions as efficient as if they resided in a single data center and so on and so forth.
The next generation solutions has to be architected to take advantage of the new capabilities provided by IaaS platforms, PaaS platforms and SaaS solutions all integrated seamlessly with on-premise capabilities. What should reside where, and how to provide solutions that are robust and fault-tolerant in a world more complex than ever before?
Microsoft is the dominant player in the traditional data centers on-premise. Virtually every company is leveraging a Windows Server infrastructure for a significant amount of workloads and is able to provide the smoothest, most transparent transition into the cloud compared to any other cloud provider with technologies such as Azure AppFabric, Virtual Network, Azure Connect, SQL Data Sync, Windows Azure Active Directory, System Center and so on. The product teams have done a great job in this area, but I don’t think Microsoft has been very successful in their messaging around this and the importance of this aspect.
In my opinion, this is what really sets Microsofts cloud offerings and strategy apart from other cloud providers out there, and I think this is a very important aspect for the next decade(s) while we are in this transition phase.
We’re certainly in an industry that is changing in profound ways impacting not only our own industry, but every industry, company and individuals on the planet. Cloud will play an important role as one of the key enablers for a whole new paradigm. Let’s get started!