Microsoft to shuffle the Windows Azure deck chairs (again)?

Microsoft to shuffle the Windows Azure deck chairs (again)?

Summary: Microsoft is expected to announce yet another reorganization, maybe as soon as the week of May 1, that the company is hoping will help boost the sales of its Windows Azure cloud-computing platform.

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Microsoft is expected to announce yet another reorganization, maybe as soon as the week of May 1, that the company is hoping will help boost the sales of its Windows Azure cloud-computing platform.

I'm hearing from my contacts that Scott Guthrie, currently Corporate Vice President of the .Net Platform, may be moving to the Windows Azure team, as part of the shake-up.

Does this mean Microsoft is hoping to better capitalize on its .Net tooling story around Azure -- the way that rival VMWare is doing with Spring/Cloud Foundry? What does the shift mean for Silverlight, given that Guthrie currently leads the Silverlight development team -- a team that has been is in flux, in terms of strategy/positioning, as of late?

Nobody from Microsoft will say anything beyond "no comment." Microsoft is reporting its Q3 FY'11 earnings on Thursday April 28, so the company is in a "quiet period" and not answering questions on any forward-looking kinds of things.

There have been all kinds of ongoing rumors about a much more sweeping reorganization that would affect Microsoft's Server and Tools Business (STB). STB is the division responsible for Windows Server, Windows Azure, Visual Studio, SQL Server, System Center and Forefront security products, Regarding the coming reorg, I had heard talk that CEO Steve Ballmer might go so far as to take direct reporting control of Visual Studio -- as he has done in the past with Windows and Windows Phone. But I'm now hearing that isn't likely to happen.

Microsoft has been seeking the right way to balance Windows Server and Windows Azure for the past couple of years. In December 2009, Microsoft moved the Azure team into the STB, creating a joint Server and Cloud business unit. That unit was headed by Amitabh Srivastava, who eneded up leaving Microsoft in March 2011, after he didn't get the job of STB President. The STB presidency spot was open as a result of current STB chief Bob Muglia's decision to leave the company as of this summer. There was talk when Muglia left that Ballmer was unhappy with the speed at which STB was moving customers to the cloud.

The new STB chief is Satya Nadella, the former head of Microsoft's Online Systems business. When Nadella was appointed as STB President earlier this year, Microsoft officials said that Corporate Vice President Bill Laing would be the interim head of the combined Server and Cloud business.

Microsoft has attempting to play up its ability to provide software and services for customers interested in the public cloud, the private cloud and a hybrid of the two. But some of the promised components of its strategy have gone missing -- like the Windows Azure Appliances (private cloud in a box) unveiled a year ago. (Microsoft execs have said they will provide an update on the appliances at the TechEd '11 conference in mid-May.) Some company watchers and partners with whom I've talked consider Microsoft's cloud strategy to be confusing and not well articulated.

Microsoft also has come under criticism for not offering more of a pure infrastructure-as-a-service play, akin to Amazon's EC2, to customers who don't want the full Windows Azure operating-system stack in the cloud. Microsoft created new "Extra Small Instance" for Azure users in response, but many still prefer more of a hosting approach like what Amazon offers.

Microsoft officials said in February 2011 that there are 31,000 Windows Azure customers, but declined to specify how many of these are paying customers, and how many are Microsoft employees.

Topics: Operating Systems, CXO, Microsoft, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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16 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft to shuffle the Windows Azure deck chairs (again)?

    And the band played on.
    john_gillespie@...
    • And became a billion dollar industry

      @john_gillespie@...
      so play on!
      Bill Pharaoh
    • RE: Microsoft to shuffle the Windows Azure deck chairs (again)?

      @john_gillespie@... very interesting about the band played on. <a href="http://www.paperprofs.com/writing-types/essay/">essay writing</a> | <a href="http://www.paperprofs.com/writing-types/term-paper/">term paper writing</a> | <a href="http://www.paperprofs.com/writing-types/research-papers/">research paper writing</a>
      andrewroy
  • I like seeing this (in any company)

    I like seeing a company move people around to best utilise their skills on an as need basis. Far better than a company where manger get to a position and then sit there for years as the world changes around rthem.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • RE: Microsoft to shuffle the Windows Azure deck chairs (again)?

      @No_Ax_to_Grind
      A manager getting to a position and then sitting there for years as the world changes around him; that sounds like a good description of Steve Ballmer.
      rahbm
    • RE: Microsoft to shuffle the Windows Azure deck chairs (again)?

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      andrewroy
  • RE: Microsoft to shuffle the Windows Azure deck chairs (again)?

    <i>"Microsoft also has come under criticism for not offering more of a pure infrastructure-as-a-service play, akin to Amazon?s EC2, to customers who don?t want the full Windows Azure operating-system stack in the cloud. "</i>

    What?!? Who is offering this criticism? I would stop trusting them immediately.

    There are literally hundreds of IaaS providers that offer Windows as an option -- including EC2. There are fewer that use HyperV (over VMWare) to do it, but it still exists. Why should Microsoft compete with people that are already selling their products? That makes no sense.
    Rich Miles
  • AppEngine seems to me years ahead

    I admit my knowledge of Azure is from videos on Microsoft sites, but from what I see, Google's offering is years ahead. Google's solution IS paas. When you watch Azure videos, they claim it's paas, but it's a weird pass/iaas mix. You hear talk about _routing_, instances, and whatnot. Not even funny.
    Google's approach and advice is simple: 1) don't use SQL, as it is not easily scalable. Use a NoSQL server from the start. 2) Write a web-page and Google will scale it. Simple. Smart. And did I mentioned CHEAP! You can run a medium traffic site for FREEEEEE.

    So if you aleardy have an SQL site up and running, you might want to give Azure a look, otherwise you'll just create something that you'll have to rewrite tomorrow (as a microsoft developer i bet you're used to that).

    My prediction: Microsoft will copy AppEngine to the letter, replacing Java with dotnet. Microsoft developers, why wait? use AppEngine today ;-)
    fanbaby
    • Well stated!

      @fanbaby "otherwise you'll just create something that you'll have to rewrite tomorrow (as a microsoft developer i bet you're used to that)."

      So true! And to make matters even worse - people accept this as the norm!

      At the top of the risk actualization tree is the branch everyone developing with Microsoft tools falls off of: millions of companies built for NT, rebuilt for 2000, revised for 2003/XP, now face rebuilds for the 2008 Server/Vista combination -and can look forward to throwing away any successes they achieve in this process just as soon as Microsoft gets whatever they want to sell next out the door.

      In contrast, non-Microsoft development tools have generally proven automatically upgradeable to new technologies. All you need to do is stick to standards and steer clear of all things that are Microsoft-only.

      -Mike
      SpikeyMike
  • RE: Microsoft to shuffle the Windows Azure deck chairs (again)?

    ScottGu would be a welcome addition as a leader of the Windows Azure Platform team. His enthusiasm as the primary Visual Studio evangelist has been contagious.<br><br>The Windows Azure Platform Appliance has been vaporware since it was announced more than a year ago. It will be interesting to see if MSFT can resurrect it.<br><br>--rj
    Roger_Jennings
  • RE: Microsoft to shuffle the Windows Azure deck chairs (again)?

    I am sure Scott Gu would be a valued addition to any other part of Microsoft as his enthusiasm seems to inspire those around him; if it comes to pass hopefully this won't have a negative effect on the VS team though - as it's just starting to reach momentum.

    I have to say I think including this paragraph redundant if it doesn't look like Steve Ballmer isn't going to take control of the VS team, it serves no purpose but to generate panic amongst programmers like myself!

    "Regarding the coming reorg, I had heard talk that CEO Steve Ballmer might go so far as to take direct reporting control of Visual Studio ? as he has done in the past with Windows and Windows Phone. But I?m now hearing that isn?t likely to happen."
    Cranialstrain
    • Visual Studio

      Hi. Sorry if there's been any panic creation. I included this info because I have heard from multiple sources of mine that MS has been mulling how to consolidate and promote its developer assets via a reorg. The SteveB taking control idea was something that my sources said was actively considered as part of the expected shake-up. I am just reporting what I am hearing. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • Staying away from &quot;Cloud&quot; for now

    I myself think the "Cloud" has some real issues especially in security. I don't trust Microsoft or Google at this point.
    jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
    • Thinking about SMB's

      @jscott418

      When you think about a small, medium sized business - How many of them can afford an IT staff?

      I sell computer systems to the SMB segment - specifically, retailers. They don't spend any money on technology unless they have to, as they are operating on such tight margins.

      From my perspective, if the CLOUD were to host their precious data, they'd be better off - much better off. My rationalization is that I've seen, over and over again, just how little they value their data - until they lose it.

      My customer has very little time or inclination to keep their applications updated (Cloud apps take care of this), or to keep their data backed up (Cloud again!). The bottom line to SMBs is that, unless they are committed to keeping their computing infrastructure up (they're not!), then they SHOULD outsource to someone who will.

      The CLOUD is where they're heading. It only makes sense.

      -Mike
      SpikeyMike
  • RE: Microsoft to shuffle the Windows Azure deck chairs (again)?

    I sell computers to very small businesses and home users. Most could care less about their data beyond backing up on a regular basis. Microsoft has done little to push Cloud Computing to little guys like me to the point that I am not at all familiar with it and will not persue it. MS used to care about little guys like me, but they have shifted to the middle size to large businesses (regardless of what they say about SMB). The small retailers and other small Mom and Pop shops don't have any budget for IT, and most end up using an old home computer for their business. Besides setting up a RAID1 system and ensuring that automatic back ups are done, I don't push further as they aren't willing to pay for it! So I say CLOUD? SHMOUD!
    Garreth49
  • Microsoft is lost...

    Ever since BillG left MS, it?s been lost. It's in the same boat Apple was when SJ left. I say get rid of SB and get BillG back, the man has vision!
    VinceJS