With the ascension of Satya Nadella to the position of Microsoft CEO, enterprise users can expect a further shift in the company’s overall business strategy to a cloud-centric model the focus being Windows Azure as the primary delivery platform for its fleet of software products and services. As the previous executive vice president of the company’s cloud and enterprise group, Nadella has been a key proponent for Microsoft’s cloud strategy, stressing its importance to Microsoft’s business viability. Waning PC sales and a subsequent decline of its desktop application and OS-based revenue present challenges that can be potentially addressed with a cloud-centric game plan. And with Nadella at the helm, Microsoft’s cloud OS will be the center of a concerted effort in Redmond to position Azure as the dominant platform in the cloud computing space.
This ultimately means an expansion of Azure platform offerings with unprecedented quality of service, robustness, and security especially as Microsoft itself continues to increasingly rely heavily on Azure for its own SaaS offerings. Enterprises hesitant to utilize Azure’s cloud-based VMs or PaaS can rest assured that Microsoft is itself dependent on the stability and maturity of Azure for its own mission-critical services. Skype messaging service, for instance, is now powered by Windows Azure; SkyDrive (now re-branded as OneDrive), Microsoft’s cloud storage offering, is also migrating to Azure. It’s likely that many more if not most of Microsoft’s SaaS offerings such as Office 365, SharePoint Online and Dynamics CRM will also be ported to Azure in the near future.
For enterprise IT organizations, an increasingly strong presence of Azure in the cloud computing space translates to Microsoft quality software and infrastructure that requires very little up-front cost and capital expenditure. Azure’s PaaS offers developers building custom software in the cloud a stable and secure environment to build and run applications. Users across all cloud deployment models enjoy minimal time-to-deployment and ubiquitous access. Perhaps the most attractive benefit to the CIO or CTO is the pay-as-you-go, on-demand nature of Azure’s applications and virtual machines, eliminating traditional costly and complicated licensing schemes.
As previously mentioned, Microsoft faces serious challenges in the desktop OS arena as PC demand decreases each year. To face this obstacle, the world’s number one software must keep its flagship OS relevant and desirable, either by functionality or price point. Microsoft is reportedly developing a pay-per-use desktop-as-a-service OS that can run on ultra-thin clients. This virtual desktop infrastructure will run on Azure, further cementing the Cloud OS stature in the pantheon of cloud players.
In short, Azure is here to stay and with Nadella in charge, Microsoft will surely put its cloud OS at the forefront of its strategic initiatives. Furthermore, as Microsoft continues to increase its own reliance on Windows Azure, so will other big companies the roster now includes Xerox, BMW, T-Mobile, NASA, Toyota, and Lockheed Martin, among others. Windows Azure circle partners such as Motifworks, a cloud and mobile solutions company, specialize in Windows Azure Cloud and can help in migrating applications and infrastructure to Windows Azure.