Microsoft has been bitten by the cloud computing bug in a major way. You only have to look at its latest announcements from the TechEd conference in New Orleans this week to see that the firm is pushing cloud as the way forward for delivering enterprise IT services.
Of course, the tech giant isn't the only vendor to see the advantages of cloud and to start positioning itself to be the provider of choice. Amazon has been delivering its public infrastructure as a service (Iaas) to anyone willing to pay for the best part of a decade, while VMware has evolved its server virtualisation software into a private cloud platform used in many enterprise data centres.
But the big target for the corporate market is the hybrid cloud, the nexus between both the private and public cloud spheres. Using a hybrid cloud approach, organisations should be able to extend their infrastructure out to that of a service provider and move workloads from their own private domain to the public one as required.
The idea behind the hybrid cloud is that organisations can quickly expand their compute resources using pay-per-use cloud services if necessary, in order to meet a spike in demand. Alternatively, they may take the decision to save money by using the public cloud to implement any new infrastructure instead of building and owning it themselves.
However, it has eventually dawned on many of the cloud computing players that this scenario will be much easier and simpler if the same technology is in use in both the private cloud and the public cloud. This has sparked a kind of race to deliver the necessary tools and services to make a successful hybrid cloud strategy, but also to draw as many partners and customers as possible.
On the face of it, Microsoft would seem to have a huge advantage here. Its server platform is found in almost every enterprise that exists, and its System Center management suite had evolved with its last iteration into a platform capable of corralling those servers into a private cloud.
At the same time, Microsoft's Azure cloud platform, running atop its own Windows Server 2012 platform, has gained Iaas capabilities. The software giant has made it possible for customers to link any public cloud infrastructure to their corporate domain, enabling it to be managed as if it were in their own data centre.
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