In the boxing ring of Enterprise IT, one of the heavyweights has now joined the fight. Because this was the week that Microsoft, with just six weeks to go before the 5th Cloud Expo, of which Microsoft is a Gold sponsor and one of the biggest exhibitors (out of over 70 leading Cloud companies exhibiting), came out of the corner swinging.
Specifically Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, gave a speech on Thursday to computer science students at the University of Washington. He discussed what’s ahead for computing, with a focus on how cloud computing will change the way people and businesses use technology.
"Twenty million businesses and over a billion people use Microsoft cloud services," Ballmer noted.
One of his slides in Seattle was headed:
"The cloud fuels Microsoft, and Microsoft fuels the cloud"
The most telling quote of all perhaps came towards the very end of his address. "This is the time," Ballmer said. "It's the opportunity and the cloud forms the basis between the microprocessor and the Internet, we did give the gifts that never stopped giving. And they're giving us the cloud today, and as I like to say at Microsoft, for the cloud we're all in."
Right after giving his speech, Ballmer sent an internal email to all Microsoft employees, the full text of which is worth reading since it gives chapter and verse on why Microsoft believes cloud computing to be one of the biggest opportunities in decades for the tech industry and for Microsoft. Here it is:
To: All Microsoft employees
From: Steve Ballmer
Today, I spoke to a group of students and faculty at the University of Washington to discuss how cloud computing will change the way people and businesses use technology.
My goal was to challenge people to look at the cloud more broadly and understand the multidimensional nature of the cloud transformation happening today. Other companies have defined the cloud in a narrow, one-dimensional way. Although these companies provide some interesting components, Microsoft is uniquely delivering on a wide range of cloud capabilities that bring increasingly more value to our customers.
In my speech, I outlined the five dimensions that define the way people use and realize value in the cloud:
* The cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities
* The cloud learns and helps you learn, decide and take action
* The cloud enhances your social and professional interactions
* The cloud wants smarter devices
* The cloud drives server advances that drive the cloud
This view fuels our investments across the entire company, from datacenters to cloud platform technologies to cloud-based development tools and applications. Today, nearly every one of our products has, or is developing, features or services that support the cloud. As I said today, when it comes to the cloud, we are all in. We are all in across every product line we have and across every dimension of the cloud.
Of course, this is not news to any of you. We have been making huge investments in the cloud for the past decade. Nearly five years ago, Ray's "Services Disruption" memo provided the outline for what we needed to do as a company, and with the delivery of Windows Azure at the recent PDC, we have made huge strides in making this vision real.
To keep our momentum, it is critical that every Microsoft employee works to deliver the full benefits of the cloud to our customers.
As a part of this, I request that you do the following:
* Watch the speech on demand here
* Learn more about our cloud offerings and how they relate to our overarching software plus services strategy here (unavailable outside Microsoft network)
* Review your commitments to ensure you are landing our vision with customers and partners.
Of course, there is more work to do. We have strong competitors. We need to be (and are) willing to change our business models to take advantage of the cloud. We must move at "cloud speed," especially in our consumer offerings. And we need to be crystal clear about the value we provide to all our customers.
To drive our message home even further, today you will see an ad campaign in the U.S. focused on our commercial and government businesses, a new website with consolidated content and case studies, and ongoing emphasis on the cloud from me and other members of the SLT in our upcoming speeches and presentations.
We have an enormous opportunity in front of us. We have great products and services in the market today and a range of new ones on their way.
All of our products make the cloud better, and the cloud makes our products better.
Anyone who wants to see how exactly all this is being translated into reality by Microsoft should make sure to attend 5th Cloud Expo at The Jacob Javits Convention Center next month (April 19-21, 2010). Microsoft's Azure services will have a prominent presence on the 3-day show floor, with a massive 25-foot by 25-foot booth that will leave no one in any doubt about Steve Ballmer's words. Microsoft truly is "all in" for the Cloud.
To borrow Ballmer's phrase, the event has grown at "Cloud speed" since we first produced it, in the heart of Silicon Valley, in 2008. It is currently trending to be The Lsrgest Cloud Computing Event in the World.