Microsoft’s new launch of Azure Service Platform, which includes the cloud operating system called Windows Azure, defines the scalable backend that will anchor the services portion of Microsoft's software-plus-services strategy, which it has been laying out in bits and pieces over the past three years. While on a business trip to Middle East, David Scult, Worldwide General Manager, Information Worker Group of Microsoft exclusively discussed the market potential for Azure and implications of cloud computing with Faiz Askari, Head- Online& Features at Network World Middle East.
How has the Middle East market reacted to the new launch?
We are overwhelmed to see the response from the local customers and partners for Azure. Cloud computing is gaining traction world-over and organizations of all sizes are showing interest to migrate to a cloud environment. From the present scenario it clearly indicates that Azure is going to be a gateway of new opportunity through cloud computing platform.
What positioning does Azure has in the growing market of cloud computing?
Cloud computing is a buzz word these days. But I strongly think that Azure will be an effective tool to evaluate the business value of cloud computing. Azure is Microsoft's operating system for the cloud and will anchor the Azure Services Platform that Microsoft will run from its hosting data centers. Azure also is a development environment for applications developers for the cloud.
What market demand has led Microsoft to come out with a product like Azure?
There was a biggest challenge earlier to help customers in understanding the value of the technology investments. With a cloud computing platform, customers get a chance to pay as they use, and Azure came out as a solution for such customers.
What is Microsoft’s strategy towards enterprise computing?
Our strategy is not to optimize any one business model. We would like to offer a comprehensive choice of solutions to the customer. Our objective is also to offer a compelete enterprise solution portfolio through cloud platforms.
From an IT manager’s perspective what are the key attractions of Azure?
The biggest attraction of Azure, which makes the life of the IT manager much easier, is the fact that it is so easy to get evaluated on pilot. The product has been designed in a way that running pilots and evaluating the outcomes become less time consuming.
Apart from this, Azure also has the capability of utilizing the existing infrastructure.
Have you taken care of the data migration aspect in Azure platform?
The platform will allow services to call out to other services or to applications running on different networks or in different data centers. Azure offers standard based support for other environments as well. However, the services model is always safe for the data migration aspect as the responsibility of data security is always on the third party.
Can you throw some light on Microsoft’s plans for the cloud platform?
The office group is working on bringing out an comprehensive Web applications campaign. This entails having an online version of Office, which will be available soon.
Which are the potential markets you are focusing on for cloud computing approach?
Azure is designed to be the foundation, the bedrock underneath all of Microsoft's service offerings for consumers and business alike. The systems that we're building right now for cloud-based computing are setting the stage for the next 50 years of systems, both outside and inside the enterprise.