I spent a lovely, albeit very cold, day yesterday in Bellevue, WA, visiting several groups at Microsoft. It was great meeting with people I've worked with over the last 16 years. I really enjoyed the intense discussions on the topics of virtualization technology (the whole stack, not just virtual machine technology), cloud computing and even an extended discussion of how a company, such as the 451 Group, gathers and analyzes supply side data to create market sizing model.
During the discussions, it become clear that Microsoft has strong ideas about cloud computing and how it has a chance to touch everything from handhelds, netbooks, laptops, desktop machines and just about everything all the way back in to the datacenter. It is also clear that they understand the difficulties in moving from what we're doing today into the clouds. We agreed that certain organizations (government, small businesses and those offering web-based products and services, are likely to move forward more rapidly than larger organizations that face strong requirements for regulatory compliance, security and the like.
Although the discussion only touched on this topic briefly, it became obvious to me that they were taking a very systematic, bottoms up consideration of what it would take to make currently deployed applications "cloud-worthy." A key requirement would be modifying the basic operating system, data management, network management and application framework APIs so that they support local, hybrid or cloud applications. This would make cloud deployment as easy as creating a relationship with a managed or hosting services provider and "clicking a few buttons" to tell applications or application components that they should execute somewhere else.
Since a significant number of organizations are using Microsoft's tools and operating systems, a successful implementation of such a strategy could give Microsoft a strategic advantage over those who are only offering a cloud API and a set of tools.
What do you think?</p