I met Srikanth Karnakota, Country Head, Server and Cloud Business, Microsoft India recently. We had worked with Srikanth many years ago, in his role as an ISV Evangelist, and still had great memories of our association. So, I was looking forward to catching up with him and learn about his new role, especially on the heels of Satya Nadella, earlier worldwide head of the Cloud and Enterprise Group, taking over the mantle from Steve Ballmer.
The public cloud services market in India is nascent and at less than half a billion dollars, still a market in the making. According to Srikanth, the market is being created by service providers- it needs education, and a clear articulation of the benefits. A vibrant SME community is one of the key drivers, while apprehensions regarding security and lower IT adoption trends are some inhibitors.
While Amazon has long been a leader in the public cloud space, Microsoft is stealing a march by propagating the idea of a hybrid cloud. The hybrid cloud allows enterprises to flexibly scale infrastructure by combining their own datacenters with those on a public cloud. According to Srikanth, Microsoft is poised to make rapid strides with its Azure platform through the growth of the hybrid cloud environment. The hybrid cloud, in one stroke, removes some of the objections that businesses may have to moving to the cloud- they can retain some applications in-house if they feel a strong need to. At the same time, the cost advantages of the public cloud are too good to ignore and so they can move those that they are comfortable with to the public cloud. The only way forward is the hybrid cloud, believes Microsoft.
And as to why Microsoft is optimistic about claiming a leadership position, consider this- worldwide, around 350000 customers use Microsoft Dynamics products and SQL Server is the leader in the databases space. Juxtapose this with the following: an average of 1000 customers sign up for Azure daily, and 50% of Fortune 500 companies already use Azure. So, given that the enterprise segment represents nearly 60% of the company’s business, Microsoft is going about its business of convincing enterprises to adopt the hybrid cloud model quietly and successfully!
In India too, progress is impressive. A proud Srikanth tells me that Windows Azure is off to a good start- already has over 15,000 customers, and is continuing to add over 2,000 new customers every month. At the same time, Srikanth adds, this is just the beginning: ‘We have barely scratched the surface and my role is to create a market through evangelization and awareness building’.
As we concluded our meeting, I could not help thinking that the strategy was quite smart and sound. It will be interesting to watch for possible re-alignments and rethinking among the current set of players in the near future. Time to look up to the clouds!
You may have read a news item yesterday on Google introducing Google Cloud Connect – a plug in for MS Office whereby an user can synch up directly with Google Office. There is no need to press Ctrl S every few minutes as the data you are typing has already been saved by Google. What more – other users can start working on this saved version and collaboratively edit making sure you do not have to go through the trouble of sending and opening attachments. Two thoughts occurred to me – one is the power of cloud computing. Google has called this as a tectonic shift from the desktop to the “Webtop” – cool!
The second thought was more sobering – now, Google is threatening Microsoft’s monopoly in the Office suite segment – something which MS has dominated for years now. The question is do you want to allow Google to access your MS office documents? Already, Google seems to know a lot about us (courtesy Gmail, google search engine etc). One wonders what this implies? And also, while Microsoft has always been accused of monopoly, don’t Google’s tactics suggest the same strategy? What do you think?
Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing operating system. It enables the development of cloud based applications using Azure’s Services platform. Hosting on Azure comes at $0.12/hour while storage is at $0.15GB per month. The company claims that over 3000 apps have been developed on the platform.
Microsoft has finally embraced the cloud it appears, exemplified by a recent talk by Ballmer http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/steve/2010/03-04Cloud.mspx. A rather late entrant to this area, it will be interesting to watch how Microsoft differentiates itself against established offerings such as Amazon Web Services and Google Apps Platform.
One thing is clear, though. Cloud Computing definitely promises to be the next big thing. What was considered to be more hype than substance not so long ago is now becoming a part of enterprise strategy.
Would welcome comments and experiences on use of cloud computing.