Microsoft's Zane Adam was upbeat about Azure's progress and future prospects at IP Expo, despite the recent announcement that chief software architect and Azure patron Ray Ozzie is leaving the company.
Adam, who is general manager for Azure, Middleware, Server and Tools at Microsoft, claimed that the cloud platform now has upwards of 11,000 customers, which is "pretty rapid for a product that just went commercial a short while ago ", he said.
At IP Expo, Adam has been sharing Microsoft's vision of the cloud, which is to provide a comprehensive platform to deliver IT-as-a-service.
"This means infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, such as APIs for programming, and software-as-a-service like Exchange Online," he said.
"Amazon does the first, and Google kind of does the second, but our intention at Microsoft is to deliver all three, and we're on track on all fronts."
Initial interest in Microsoft's cloud platform came from smaller businesses and developers, according to Zane, but larger organisations are now starting to ramp up their investments.
"What happened is that SMBs started looking and kicking the tires, and developers took an interest because you can test projects on Azure," he said.
"Then independent software vendors [ISVs] started porting, and those have brought with them a lot of small and medium businesses.
"It wasn't as if enterprises weren't there but, in the last six months or so, we have been seeing more rapid adoption on the enterprise side, across the world."
One example is Easyjet, which is implementing its online check-in service, including check-in at the airport using mobile terminal devices, using Azure rather than building out the infrastructure itself.
There is no typical cloud user, according to Zane, but many customers have been using Azure for applications where IT-as-a-service is an obvious solution, such as covering events that generate spikes in demand or adding extra capacity to meet online shopping activity in the run-up to Christmas, for example.
As might be expected, mission-critical applications are notably absent from the cloud, but this is likely to change in the future, according to Zane.
"The consuming you do of applications, your interaction with some ISV or banking application, well, I bet you that, within two years, without you knowing, it will be on Azure or some other cloud," he claimed.
Few customers today have any idea from where their bank's datacentre operations are run, he pointed out.
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