Is Microsoft's cloud view realistic?

Is Microsoft's cloud view realistic?

Summary: Everyone talks a good game when looking into cloud computing's future but Microsoft has a unique point of view--especially unique since it includes open source operating systems and software. Realistic? Yes.


I've read and heard much rhetoric surrounding transforming the data center. It all sounds really good. Much of it is pure buzzword-laden, how shall I say this appropriately, nonsense. Yes, nonsense is a good substitute for what I was really wanting to write. Microsoft is a technology company that sells products and services worldwide. It is also a strong marketing company—everyone seems to know that. But Microsoft is not just a bag of hot air. At some point, a company that only sells hype would have to "put up or shut up," which Microsoft has done. Hype doesn't last for almost 30 years. Microsoft is actually in the process of transforming the data center and it knows just how to do it: by embracing all technologies. Its view of cloud and cloud technologies is realistic and I can prove it.

Yes, I know it's hard for some of you to believe it but it's true. Microsoft knows that it's a heterogenous world out there. It knows that it's a heterogenous data center in here. What you might not know is that Microsoft fully embraces interoperability.

Yes, publicly.

Likewise, privately.

I know that many of you have a problem of one type or another with Microsoft. I also know that a large percentage of you love Microsoft. You can't please everyone but I'd have to say that Microsoft is really trying to do just that with its new flagship operating system, Windows Server 2012.

But how can I make such an assertion after so many years of Microsoft's Linux bashing, patents, lawsuits, and battles against all things not Microsoft?

Microsoft is transforming. That's how.

Ten years ago, I wouldn't have made that same assertion. As you might know, I'm a Linux evangelist, open source writer, Wintel admin, Apple convert, and many other things. But I've never been one to mince words or take the path of least resistance when it comes to my IT career. I'm known, on the job and off, for my brutal honesty, for my quick wit, my ability to filter through the "nonsense", and for always giving my best effort to a problem. I digress.

From what I've observed, Microsoft's view of cloud is realistic. From its understanding of data center heterogeneity to creating cloud-based applications such as Office 365 to developing new operating systems that have cloud services built into them, it has proven itself to be a formidable cloud computing company.

The significance of Microsoft's "revelation" that the data center is heterogeneous can't be passed over without comment. I think that, for many years, Microsoft saw itself as the unwelcomed cohabitor of UNIX in the world's data centers. UNIX folk had the old, "There goes the neighborhood" attitude with Microsoft's mid-range servers taking up rackspace and floor space in the once holy UNIX-dominated data centers. Once Microsoft became a major business force, its data center occupancy was accepted and embraced, albeit still somewhat begrudgingly. As Microsoft's popularity in the data center grew, I think it decided that it should be the only resident in those alternating hot and cold aisles. However, the UNIX fans and open source nerds believed differently.

All parties made their points and have learned to live alongside each other in an almost peaceful fashion. Apart from the holdout religious zealots, we've all learned to get along. We've learned to tolerate each other and to work together. Microsoft gained a new, realistic view of the data center and has been a primary force in its transformation. 

To Microsoft, I say, "Well done." Now it's time to get busy on those virtual desktops.

What do you think about Microsoft's new heterogeneous data center tolerance and acceptance? Do you think that they've matured into this newfound attitude or do you think they were forced into it? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: Microsoft, Cloud, Data Centers


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • I guess the strives Microsoft made in azure

    Are directly visible in their "on premises" Windows server versions that allow cloud computing using a hypervisor that has seen tremendous adding of features over a relatively short period of time.

    With server 2012 8 months ago, Microsoft managed to closely approach Vmware on features, whilst with server 2012r2 they have surpassed vmware on quite a few points. Hyper-v (in combination with data center edition, that allows for unlimited Windows workloads license wise) was already the most cost effective way to virtualise Windows, with 2012 r2 it has become the cheapest hypervisor for Linux. The hyper-v version of server 2012 is free of charge and offers ALL the hyper-v features and all the failover cluster features found in the paid version of Server 2012.
  • @sjaak327

    You're right. It is highly cost-effective for any OS now. Uh oh, methinks I hears some scrambling in the virtualization spaces...
  • MSFT law of Darwin

    With MSFT you are not impassive, or you hate it or love, false visionary give few years of life to Microsoft but they should smoke "crack". Although I find its incursion in devices a serious error (to do IBM?)I believe that soon it recovered the common sense its CEO Steve B. MSFT knows how to rectify and takes initiatives like made with DRYAC, although it should be quicker, without a doubt tries to select winning tendencies of the market IT and to forget the own ones
    luis river
    • re: Huh?

      You speakem gibberish, luis river.
      Sir Name
  • gibberish

    My schools were not of payment
    luis river
    • well thats...

      ...easy for you to say
  • Yes, I concur.

    Microsoft is not the same company many people are still whining about from last century. I've actually grown to appreciate their offerings and their services. I have migrated from AWS to Azure and have never been happier.

    Do I still hold grudges against the Microsoft of the 90's who killed my beloved Amiga computer? Maybe just a little bit, but you would have to be an idiot to realize this is not your daddy's Microsoft anymore. They are mature yet still innovative. I'd keep an eye on them if I were you.
    • The "reformed Microsoft" astoturf campaign

      Just as cynical as ever. I see you punched the key phrases there. Nice job. Unfortunately we have seen this exact comment in 85 articles under dozens of accounts in the last year. So what you are telling us is that there is in fact no change from the vile practices of yesteryear. Those of us who have been keeping an eye on them knew this anyway from the various court documents that trickle out every week. Thanks though, for an example other folks can see.
      • Enforced change is still change

        I've used Microsoft technologies for a long time now and, while I have no love for the company, I will accept that they've changed because they've had to. I was putting the boot in over their many transgressions in the past, but I've also had the opportunity to work with some of their staff over the last decade. And you know what? They're pretty good. And the software they produce these days is pretty good too. We've rolled out Exchange, SharePoint, Lync...and it works well. There's a big community and lot of help out there, you can do a hell of a lot of customisation, and if you really want to, you can take your data and walk. We stick with them because it's better for our Company to do so.

        I've learnt that, within limits, Microsoft are _now_ a company that can be trusted. They don't want my personal data to sell on. They don't produce over priced shiny trinkets and then tell me what I can and can't do with them. They make software that we can install and run for our staff to use with a minimum of fuss so they can get on with doing their jobs.

        With the advent of smartphones and tablets, their share of eyeballs on screens has dropped from ~90% to around 40%. They have changed, because they've had to change. That change is still happening and, while they stumble, they are at least moving in the right direction.

        To return to the main point of the article, I don't think very large companies will move everything to the cloud, but the hybrid approach will probably become more common where it makes sense to do so. With 500+ people in an office we're never going to chuck all our data over a small pipe to the cloud when we have gigabit LAN and the resources to manage the servers. For SMEs it's a no brainer, but for any big corporation the in-house requirements, intellectual property concerns, regulation, legacy platforms and sheer volume of data will probably keep a lot of stuff on premise for the foreseeable future.
  • Well, that's ZDNet for you.

    "Much of it is pure buzzword-laden, how shall I say this appropriately, nonsense."

    Well, that's ZDNet for you. All the buzzwords are true, everything else is a lie. Never think about anything other than the buzzwords, never think that the buzzwords can be false.

    It's a sad, sad disease.
  • Microsoft interoperability

    Now there's an oxymoron. No matter what they claim they know that if they give you control of your data and build you a bridge to their competitor, you will flee to their competitor, taking your data with you.
    • You're missing the point

      Microsoft wants all software developers and services providers to use Microsoft's Azure cloud services rather than, say, Amazon cloud services. That's precisely why interoperability is the key, together with services that are first class and better than everyone else's.
  • Yes, realistic.

    There's so much "Management Porn" happening around the cloud it's not funny.

    It's much easier for small and small to medium businesses to go cloud simply because they have smaller/easier systems to replace and a small flexible IT crowd. These guys don't care for the porn, they want the wife, two kids and labrador options - reliable, long term, predictable costs (well, mainly).

    Your large enterprises really want the porn star stuff, but are ultimately frustrated because they can't get it to deliver (despite the money they throw at their consultant cloud pimps) due to the scale of what they're trying to achieve and the regulatory restrictions they operate under.

    MS are taking the sensible approach of offering the wife and family options that offer a stable happy relationship. And then you can have a bit of Linux on the side if you want to risk it.

    By the time the larger enterprises are geared up for the cloud and have got over their porn fixation, MS will undoubtedly have improved the migration paths available to them so they don't catch anything nasty on the way.
  • Re: Microsoft fully embraces interoperability.

    When we were children, our grandparents were often reminding us:

    "The wolf changes his coat but not his nature."
    • The wolf WILL change it's nature if it needs to survive

      It's called EVOLUTION - something your grandparents forgot to mention!
    • Your grandparents needed to get out more,

      and so do you.

      From the wolf, came the domesticated dogs, in many different shapes and sizes, and full of love for those who would just look and listen and return that love.

      The one thing that never seems to change it's stripes or coat, is the anti-Microsoft attack dogs found in sites such as this one.
  • Amen!

    MS has opened up their product architecture and strategic planning to everyone in the company, worldwide, and the entire technical community around Microsoft as well. As a result, they have boiled down their concepts to core truths that hold throughout the entire product suite. My paraphrase:
    Everything is virtual: servers, clients, networks, apps, middleware, private cloud,
    public clouid and hybrid. Mounting the hypervisor on hardware is a separate
    science, and implementing IT is universal, no matter what collection of
    devices you use.

    I have never seen a technical or scientific company open themselves up like this, and the 2012/2013 product suite is shows how well it works. Their vision of the cloud and the data center is THE vision, because we all thought it together.

    My business (Small Business IT) is 'all in' on Microsoft's vision, because it incorporates what we are ALL doing - MS, other product companies, partners, tech Pros, hardware development, and the rest. Their cloud vision is not just realistic, it's reality.

    P.S. This all happened under Steve Ballmer. Give the guy credit for being a CEO, not a guru.