Microsoft’s Cloud Computing tryst with Azure

Microsoft has finally accepted the viability of online office business and has launched it’s cloud computing platform, Azure (interestingly, Azure means unclouded!)

Unlike other SaaS providers like Google and Zoho, MS is playing the software+service game (and not software as a service)

And as we edit, organize and store media, the PC has quietly moved from our desks to our laps to our mobile phones and entertainment centers-taking the Web with it each step of the way.

Software-plus-Services is the next logical step in the evolution of computing.  It represents an industry shift toward a design approach that is neither exclusively software-centric nor browser-centric.  By deeply and genuinely combining the best aspects of software with the best aspects of cloud-based services, we can deliver more compelling solutions for consumers, developers and businesses – source

While Google pushes cloud computing via the browser route (to be more specific, Chrome), Microsoft will leverage it’s desktop footprint and will introduce applications that integrate with it’s Azure platform/livemesh.

Windows Azure is not software that companies will run on their own servers. It’s something new: a service that runs in Microsoft’s growing network of datacenters and provides the platform that helps companies respond to the realities of today’s business environment, and tomorrow’s. Windows Azure technologies are already finding their way into products such as Windows Server 2008 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager, enabling organizations and Microsoft partners to create their own cloud infrastructure. – Steve Ballmer

The challenge?

Call it a ‘wolf in a sheep’s cloth’ syndrome, most of the incumbent/enterprise players have failed at SaaS business owing to the huge sales margin that they are used to (by selling hosted products).

Changing the DNA of the entire engg/sales org is not an easy task – take a look at what happened with Siebel (and to a certain extent, Ariba) – the CRMOnDemand application lost out to Salesforce not because of technology, but because of the inherent DNA that prevailed in Siebel’s sales team – they were unable to identify the right customer base and right pricing (for instance, will you sell SaaS solution to deep-pocketed IBM? Or pitch enterprise CRM tool to them?)

Microsoft too will face the same issue, but the good news is that cloud is for real and we will see some real action from the company that matters most in office space!

What’s your take?

Catch the online office action.

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