Microsoft’s Cloud Vision for the Hosting Industry and Partner Opportunities

When we are planning for this year's Hosting Summit in early Fall of 2009, I had a bold idea to invite Bob Muglia, President of Microsoft's Server & Tools business to speak at the event. This is the first time we have had an executive of Bob's level speaking at the Hosting Summit. Having had the opportunity to work with Bob on a number of hosting projects, I knew him to be a great proponent of hosters within Microsoft and he has been personally involved in many of our hosting initiatives. Since Microsoft itself was embarking on a major cloud strategy shift, I felt it would be a great opportunity for the hosting community to directly hear from Bob about our vision and strategy. It turns out Bob felt the same way and wanted to speak to hosters directly to articulate our approach to cloud strategy. 

  • Provide solutions that are horizontal, uniform and differentiated from our competitors
  • Foster a rich partner ecosystem to deliver on customers' needs beyond our offerings
  • Deliver technology to partners and customers that is proven at scale in our datacenters

In many conversations with hosting partners in recent months, I invariably get the following questions.  "Why should Microsoft be in the hosting business? Why can't they provide the platform and let the partners deliver services."  I was happy that Bob provided a perspective to this question. 

  • We are only able to deliver software correctl by running at scale.We know this from experience because we currently run some of the largest cloud services on the planet
  • Running cloud service at geo-scale is about more than just creating software that we ship. It requires an additional level of expertise and experience to get the solution right.By running cloud services at scale, we can provide partners with learnings and best practices to help them succeed
  • Finally, our competitors are operating at geo-scale, and we must do the same

As we build out own cloud services like Windows Azure and SQL Azure, we will take the learnings from our services and bring them into our products over time. Today Bob talked about an example of features in SQL Server R2 that is currently not in SQL Azure but will be over time.

So, were does this leave the opportunity for partners? Bob stated that our research shows that there will be $500 billion or more in datacenter investments in the next 10-15 years. There is no way any one company or even a few companies can invest that much capital to build the infrastructure to meet the customer demand.  So, we believe there will be plenty of opportunities for both Microsoft and for partners. 

Finally, Bob also talked about examples of differentiated services our partners can deliver to their customers such as backup and restore and disaster recovery. He mentioned that investments partners have made in Hper-V and System Center and the Dynamic Data Center Toolkit will continue to evolve in our future releases of products. In the meantime, we have continued to invest in the Dynamic Data Center Toolkit and have demonstrated solutions that hosting provider's customers are demanding. I had the opportunity to demonstrate a disaster recovery solution that one of our hosting partners, NGenX, is bringing to the market using the Dynamic Data Center Toolkit. This solution was built using NetApp storage using synchronous replication and EMS-Cortex Control Panel.   

This year's Hosting Summit is an important step in creating transparent communication about Microsoft's strategy with our hosting partners.  I would love to hear your thoughts on how well we are doing at this Summit!



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