Steve Ballmer: Microsoft has been focusing on cloud for 15 years

Microsoft says it intends to invest almost $10 billion into cloud R&D over the coming year.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer just came out swinging, in a new editorial in Forbes, against those accusing the software giant of lagging in today's cloud computing space.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Ballmer noted that Microsoft has been in the hosted cloud business for 15 years starting with Hotmail, followed by Exchange email server, which has been available online for more than a decade.

(Larry Dignan also reports on Microsoft COO Ken Turner's "stump speech" on cloud computing at Microsoft’s financial analyst meeting.)

Microsoft is putting plenty of resources into cloud computing these days as well, he says:

"...we'll invest $9.5 billion in R&D this year--more than any other company in the world--with most of that devoted to cloud technologies. Right now, 70% of Microsoft’s 40,000 engineers work on cloud-related products and services. By next year, that number will grow to 90%."

Ballmer points to three Microsoft customers using Microsoft cloud services: NASA, RiskMetrics, and the Kentucky Department of Education.  NASA is using Windows Azure "to enable the public and researchers to interact with hundreds of thousands of images collected during the space agency’s hugely successful Mars Exploration Rover program."

RiskMetrics is using Azure to ensure that "computing capacity can expand instantly to meet almost any level of demand for its sophisticated risk simulation models."

The Kentucky Department of Education is using Microsoft cloud-based communications and collaboration tools "to connect more than 700,000 students, teachers, and staff to each other and a wide range of educational resources."

(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)

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