Cloud

Microsoft offers its vision of public vs. private cloud

All of the big tech companies have an angle on cloud computing these days. Microsoft talked up its stance at TechEd 2010. Here's a visual.

All of the big tech companies have an angle on cloud computing these days. Microsoft revealed its take on the cloud at TechEd 2010 this week in New Orleans, including a chart that provides a great visual of where Microsoft's specific products fit into the mix.

Cloud computing is an elusive term, but it has essentially become a catch-all for technology services delivered on-demand over the Internet. Nearly all of the big vendors in IT are talking about the cloud, from IBM to HP to Cisco, because after several years of scoffing at the cloud IT leaders have changed their tune in 2010 and listed virtualization (a cloud-enabler) and cloud computing as their top two priorities, according to a broad CIO survey by Gartner.

Of course, Google and Amazon want to help companies ditch their existing IT infrastructure, migrate to the cloud, and then simple pay for usage. In May, EMC scoffed at the idea that most enterprises would move to "the public cloud" hosted by companies like Amazon and Google. Instead, EMC promoted its vision of the private cloud, which would allow enterprises to keep much of their current investment in legacy code and custom applications while taking advantage of the efficiency and scalability gains of the cloud. Calling this "the private cloud" is a bit of a marketing ploy. It's basically just a move to virtualize existing enterprise servers and storage.

Since Microsoft has such as huge installed base in the enterprise, it's natural to expect that Microsoft would take a similar approach to EMC. However, in addition to its play in virtualization and traditional data centers, Microsoft has also been on a massive data center building binge, and these facilities are primarily aimed at growing the company's public cloud capacity. And, that's why we've also seen Microsoft moving toward offering its own hosted Exchange and SharePoint services, for example. So Microsoft is essentially entering a horse in both races.

How does it all fit together? Here's the slide that Microsoft trotted out at TechEd to illustrate its vision of public vs. private cloud:

Sanity check

In other words, Microsoft wants to play both sides, serve existing customers that have huge investments in old infrastructure while winning new business from SMBs looking to go all-cloud. While that lack of focus is the kind of thing that has hurt Microsoft at times in the past, it may actually be a sound strategy when it comes to the cloud because we really don't know how all of this will shake out once the cloud hype dies down.

Even if the cloud gets huge, there could likely be a 50/50 split between private and public cloud deployments for the next decade as enterprises transition old systems. Microsoft is one of the few companies with significant assets on both sides, which will also put it in a great position to help those companies that want to split IT systems between private and public clouds. That could become an increasing trend as both platforms mature, with commoditized stuff moving to the public cloud and more sensitive or mission-critical stuff being reserved for the private cloud.

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About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

7 comments
Kent Lion
Kent Lion

Once upon a time, there was the mainframe and workstations. When the mainframe went down, everyone went down. Then came the PC. Of course sharing data was suddenly difficult; doable with floppy disks, but not very convenient or fast, and unsuitable for large quantities of shared data. The network and the Internet fixed that, but although you still had the advantage of not being completely dependent on a mainframe, if the network or server providing data was down, you weren't much better off than with a mainframe, if at all. Then networks began to be configured like mainframes, instead of a bunch of individual machines hooked together. They were managed centrally, and depending on how it was managed, some people could no longer use their PC if their network or servers were not available to log them in. There were work-arounds developed to accommodate the special needs created by laptops, but for many people, it was almost back to the mainframe days. If they couldn't log on, they couldn't use their "workstation". Now we're talking about the cloud, where your data and/or your applications are no longer on your own PC "workstation", and that means even more like a mainframe. So the question is, which costs less, 10,000 in-house PC's connected by a network, computing in the cloud(s), or a decent mainframe with workstations? Are companies with thousands of PCs and extensive networks going to finally start buying mainframes and workstations again?

JCitizen
JCitizen

many security concerns for businesses thinking about migrating to cloud computing. Especially with VPN to the private cloud. But then that was a given wasn't it?

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

It's a nice concept for SMBs, but when you look at the pricing structure, there are pay-per-hit, pay-per-Meg, and a myriad of other charges. If it's used reasonably, it might be good for a SMB, but there's a lot of ways for the charges to pile up while not generating revenue. And that's disaster for SMB's.

bobdavis321
bobdavis321

This insanity keeps coming around, call it 'thin clients', 'cloud computing', or whatever else you want to call it tomorrow. The king has no clothes! He has NO security either! Two layer authentication? Where has that worked successfully? Just look at all the Ipad owners that were hacked. Just put up a big bulls eye and say come and get me? Individual small companies can hide safely behind their firewalls. Everything on the Internet is essentially public information.....

tfox
tfox

Will small businesses embrace the cloud concept with the security and compliance considerations? We're watching closely to see how the offerings will address those concerns for our clients.

Realvdude
Realvdude

Having recently attended a MS Launch Event, I'm enthusiastic as a developer using the Windows platform. One of the MS core concerns was to allow Windows developers the ability to leverage their skills for cloud development. Our company will be looking at moving our primary product to Azure. This will not be a wholesale move, but has a lot of potential in the area of leasing and services customers (clients). The ASP application utlizes, IIS, SQL and custom libraries. Our services clients are currently hosted on our servers and connect over VPN. Lease clients have to commit to a long term investment because of equipment costs. These clients could then move to a onsite solution. Likewise long time clients could move to the cloud, rather than investing in a new server or for other logistical reason, like opening an additional location or allowing tele-workers. Either type of client could choose any combination of both onsite and cloud. Now comes the edges; while Azure can cut development and implementation costs, this also puts the developer and clients at the mercy of increases or structure changes in the pricing from a single vendor cloud solution. Of course that edge of the sword certainly applies for other cloud solutions as well.

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