Microsoft zooms in on hybrid cloud in enterprise portfolio refresh

The chief of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise business provided a strategy update at Yammer's splashy new headquarters in San Francisco.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO---Microsoft is kicking off the week with an ambitious new enterprise strategy and stacked portfolio with a particular focus on supporting hybrid cloud deployments.

Satya Nadella, head of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise business, provided a strategy update at Microsoft-owned Yammer's splashy new headquarters (alongside Twitter) in San Francisco on Monday afternoon.

"These new vectors of growth are what I'm most excited about because that's what's going to be a major part of our enterprise business," remarked Nadella, highlighting datacenter products and the Azure public cloud as Microsoft's early successes so far.

According to Microsoft, enterprise currently represents approximately 58 percent of the Redmond, Wash.-headquartered corporation's total business worldwide.

Nadella theorized there are going to be three key things that are going to be required for making progress and remaining relevant in this market: have the most ubiquitous Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, have an "honest-to-God" scalable public cloud with a global footprint, and be able to take same software used to run cloud and deliver that to others.

In Microsoft's case, Nadella offered the Windows 365, Azure and server brands as pieces of evidence for these three items, respectively. He followed up that Microsoft is "the only one" in the IT industry that meets all three of these demands with different competitors within each of those dimensions.

Here's an overview of Microsoft's enterprise agenda for the next few months:

  • Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 (now available)
  • Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, Visual Studio 2013, and .NET 4.5.1 for building apps across multiple clouds; Windows Intune will also be connected to the System Center Configuration Manager for providing secure access to apps from Windows, iOS and Android mobile devices (Scheduled to be released on October 18)
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Fall '13 (Scheduled to be released later in October; another on-premise version for in-house and partner-led deployments is slated to follow later this fall)
  • Windows Azure HDInsight Service, an Apache Hadoop-based service that works with SQL Server and other business intelligence tools (i.e. Excel, Power BI for Office 365) for integrating private and public cloud within visualizations for faster visbility and insights (Scheduled to be released later in October)
  • Windows Azure US Government Cloud, a public cloud community for data, applications and infrastructure, hosted in the continental U.S. and managed by U.S. personnel for local, state and federal agencies.
  • A new Enterprise Agreement (EA) promising discounted Windows Azure prices (regardless of upfront commitments) without penalties (Scheduled for November 1)
  • A new deal inked with Equinix, enabling enterprises to link up their networks with Windows Azure at Equinix exchange locations; similar to a recently announced partnership with AT&T
  • A second preview of SQL Server 2014 that is boasted to offer anywhere between 10 times to 30 times better performance without application rewrites or new hardware. SQL Server 2014 will also work with Windows Azure for built-in cloud backup and disaster recovery.

The leadership team overseeing Microsoft's enterprise unit also inspired fodder for discussion on Monday, sparking questions about organizational changes all the way to the top of the ladder.

But Nadella remained tight-lipped about any rumors, even downplaying any speculation that he himself is in the running to replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer.

"Our board is looking for the new CEO. That process is well on the way," Nadella quipped, "I'm excited about my job, so that's the sum-total of what I have to say on that."

Image via Microsoft

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