Home » Cloud Computing strategy » The first “post-Ballmer” offering launched: with Power BI for Office 365 everyone can analyze, visualize and share data in the cloud

The first “post-Ballmer” offering launched: with Power BI for Office 365 everyone can analyze, visualize and share data in the cloud

Prerequisites (June 2015⇒):

Welcome to technologies trend tracking for 2015⇒2019 !!! v0.7
5G: 2015⇒2019 5G Technologies for the New Era of Wireless Internet of the 2020’s and 2030’s
Networked Society—WTF ??? v0.5
Microsoft Cloud state-of-the-art v0.7
• Service/telco for Networked Society
• Cloud for Networked Society
• Chrome for Networked Society
• Windows for Networked Society

Opportunity for Microsoft and its Partners in FY17:

As progressed since FY15:

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2010 – the 1st grand year of:

3.5G...3.9G level mobile Internet
• system-on-a-chip (SoC) and
reflective display technologies

Why viewed most (till Feb 1):

Marvell SoC leadership
Android 2.3 & 3.0
Hanvon's strategy
Welcome! or Home pages
Treesaver (LATELY #2!) and
IMT-Advanced (4G)

Core information:


… and everything you could know about Satya Nadella’s solution strategy so far (from Microsoft’s Cloud & Enterprise organization):

  1. Power BI as the lead business solution and the Microsoft’s visionary Data Platform solution built for it
  2. Microsoft’s vision of the unified platform for modern businesses

Keep in mind as well: Susan Hauser [CVP, EPG Group of Microsoft] interviews Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella [Microsoft, Feb 4, 2014; published on Microsoft Youtube channel, Feb 5, 2014]: [Microsoft, Feb 4, 2014: “Satya Nadella is a strong advocate for customers and partners, and a proven leader with strong technical and engineering expertise. Nadella addressed customers and partners for the first time as CEO during a Customer and Partner Webcast event.”]

[Contributor Profile: Susan Hauser, Corporate Vice President,
Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft]

As a teaser Q: [6:43] How do you think about consumer and business, and how do you see them benefiting each other?

A: You know, one of the things that when we think about our product innovation, we necessarily don’t compartementalize by consumer and business, we think about the user. In many of these cases, what needs to happen is experiences. That’s for sure have to have a strong notion of identity and security, so I.T. control, where it’s needed, still matters a lot, and that’s something that, again, we will uniquely bring to market. But it starts with the user. The user obviously is going to have a life at home and a life at work. So how do we bridge that as there more and more of what they do is digitally mediated? I want to be able to connect with my friends and family. I also want to be able to participate in the social network at work, and I don’t want the two things to be confused, but I don’t want to pick three different tools for doing the one thing I want to do seamlessly across my work and life. That’s what we are centered on. When we think about what we are doing in communications, what we are doing in productivity or social communications, those are all the places where we really want to bridge the consumer and business market, because that’s how we believe end-users actually work. [8:01]

More information:
Satya Nadella’s (?the next Microsoft CEO?) next ten years’ vision of “digitizing everything”, Microsoft opportunities and challenges seen by him with that, and the case of Big Data [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Dec 13, 2013, 2013] … as one of the crucial issues for that (in addition to the cloud, mobility and Internet-of-Things), via the current tipping point as per Microsoft, and the upcoming revolution in that as per Intel … IMHO exactly in Big Data Microsoft’s innovations came to a point at which its technology has the best chances to become dominant and subsequently define the standard for the IT industry—resulting in “winner-take-all” economies of scale and scope. Whatever Intel is going to add to that in terms of “technologies for the next Big Data revolution” is going only to help Microsoft with its currently achieved innovative position even more. But for this reason I will include here the upcoming Intel innovations for Big Data as well.
Microsoft reorg for delivering/supporting high-value experiences/activities [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 11, 2013]
Microsoft partners empowered with ‘cloud first’, high-value and next-gen experiences for big data, enterprise social, and mobility on wide variety of Windows devices and Windows Server + Windows Azure + Visual Studio as the platform [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 11, 2013]
Will, with disappearing old guard, Satya Nadella break up the Microsoft behemoth soon enough, if any? [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 5, 2014]
John W. Thompson, Chairman of the Board of Microsoft: the least recognized person in the radical two-men shakeup of the uppermost leadership [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 6, 2014]
Modern Applications: The People Story for Business [MSCloudOS YouTube channel, Feb 11, 2014]

We’ve positioned the animation to tell a story that will appeal to non-technical customers (i.e. the business decision makers) that will augment the product and technical stories we have developed. Think of it as an opening gambit to the kind of conversation we want to have with them. This is a “people story” about modern apps for business. This animation is aimed at taking the business angle and reinforcing our strong business app story. Learn More: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/cloud-os/modern-business-apps.aspx

– THE BIG PICTURE: Microsoft Cloud OS Overview [MSCloudOS YouTube channel, Jan 21, 2014]


imageMy name is Gavriella Schuster and I’m the general manager at the US server and cloud business. Today I’d like to talk to you about Microsoft’s vision of the unified platform for modern businesses and how—what we call the Cloud OS—can help you transform your business as you shift in a world demanding continuous, always on services at broad-scale accessed by a multitude of devices.


You are in the center of one of the largest IT transformations this industry have ever seen. No question what the big shifts are happening in IT today due to the strength mobility and devices, applications, Big Data and Cloud.

The proliferation of devices and the integration of technology has changed the way people live and work, and it opened the door for a multitude of new applications designed to meet every need. These applications are social, their mobile and they need to be scaleable which means many will have a cloud back-end.

These devices and applications produce a huge amount of data. In fact, the world of data is doubling every two to three years. More than ninety percent of the world’s data was developed just in the last couple of years. These trends are forcing IT to answer new and different question.

imageHow can you enable a mobile workforce work from anywhere on any device? How can you involve your applications to meet these new demand? How can you help businesses make faster and better decision? And, how do you ensure your infrastructure can and will scale to meet the demand?

Microsoft answer is the Cloud OS. The Cloud OS is Microsoft hybrid cloud solution comprised of Windows Server, Windows Azure, System Center, Windows Intune, and SQL Server. With shared planning, development, engineering and support across these technologies we’re bringing a comprehensive solution to support your business across a number of fronts—from infrastructure to data, to applications and devices.


When it comes to mobility and devices we empower people centric IT. Our solutions enable you to deliver a consistent and great user experience from anywhere, no matter the device, with the way to manage and protect it all.

Nearly every customer echoes the importance of enabling a bring-your-own-device environment as a direct driver of productivity.

Aston Martin, for instance, the luxury car manufacturer was challenged managing over 700 remote devices—laptops, desktops, smartphones—
across 145 dealerships in 41 countries. With Windows Intune in System Center Configuration Manager Aston Martin can now proactively manage these devices via a single cloud-based console, before employee productivity is affected. In any case where an employee’s device is stolen I can remotely wipe that device to protect your corporate data.

At the application level we enable modern business applications, so that you can quickly extend your applications with new capabilities and deploy on multiple devices, where your applications live, and move wherever you want.

In regards to data its all about Big Data, small data, and all data. The Cloud OS will help you unlock insights on any data, make it easier for everyone to access and perform analytics with tools they already use, like SharePoint an Excel, on any data, any size, from anywhere.

We have democratized access to this data so that the many not the few can uncover insights to power your business.

And lastly, at the core of the Cloud OS powering mobility applications and data is your infrastructure. Our goal is to help you transform your datacenter, to enable you to go from managing each server individually to enabling a single well-managed elastic and scaleable environment to power all your application compute, networking and storage needs.

We call this concept a datacenter without boundaries, where you get a consistent experience that takes you from the data center to the cloud and back if you wish, so that you have access to resources on-demand and the ability to move workloads around with maximum flexibility. This provides you with easy on, easy off with no cloud lock in.


What makes our Cloud OS vision different is this hybrid design at the core. You benefit from a common and consistent approach to development, management, identity, security, virtualization and data. Spending on premises to the cloud, your private cloud, a service provider cloud, and Windows Azure—Microsoft enterprise public cloud.

This is powerful for a number of reasons.

  • One, we deliver a flexible development environment to developers [that they] can code and deploy anywhere across Ruby, Java, PHP, Python or .NET. And, you get complete workload mobility to move these applications across cloud.
  • With System Center you get a single unified management solution to manage all your physical and virtual infrastructure resources across cloud in a single pane of glass.
  • Common identity is a third element of our consistent platform. With a federated Active Directory and multi-factor authentication you get a common identity across cloud, so your employees can enjoy a seamless, single sign-on experience.
  • Integrated virtualization is the fourth area. We go beyond traditional server virtualization where compute is virtualized and extended to other areas like storage and networking that are costly in your environment today.
  • Lasty being able to have a complete data platform, where your data can reside anywhere across these three clouds, is a value proposition that is huge as well. You can tap into it and all that data wherever you need, anytime.

Well I shared the core benefits Microsoft can deliver in this hybrid cloud approach.

One question I hear frequently from customers is: Oh, this is great. Can you tell me the best use case to get started with Azure?

Well, Azure can support a number of your infrastructure as a service [IaaS], and platform as a service [PaaS] needs. There are few simple areas I encourage you to look at first.


Let’s start with storage.

With today’s enormous growth in data everyone is looking for smarter, more cost-effective ways to manage and store their data. Windows Azure provides scaleable cloud storage and backup for any data big and small. Azure’s very cost-effective because you only pay for what you use at a cost that is lower than many on-premise solutions, SAN or NAS. Additionally we offer hybrid cloud storage option with our Store Simple appliance through Azure allowing you to access frequently use data locally and [put] tiered, less use data to the cloud. Your data is deduplicated, compressed and encrypted which means the data is smaller and therefore more cost effective to store and protect.

One customer example is Steelcase Corporation. There’re an office furniture supplier. They’ve backed up their SharePoint data with Store Simple on Azure, reducing their storage costs by 46 percent, and their restore times by 87 percent.

Another area to consider for Azure is your development and testing environment. You can easily and quickly self provision as many virtual machines as you need for your application development and testing in the cloud, without waiting for hardware procurement or internal processes. We offer complete virtual machine mobility so you can decide whether to deploy that application in production on Windows Azure, on-premises in your data center, or with a hosting provider. The choice is yours to deploy easily in whichever location with a few keystrokes.

And, if you’re looking to upgrade to the latest version of SharePoint or SQL [Server] Azure is a perfect option for testing in the cloud, with no impact to your production environment. You can roll out on-premises or in the cloud when you are ready.

On the topic of SQL [Server], backing up your on-premises SQL [Server] or Oracle databases is a must-have to help reduce your down time and minimize data loss. With Azure you can create a low-cost SQL Server 2012 or 2014 database replica without having to manage at separate data center or use expensive co-location facilities, offering you geo-redundancy and encryption.

Backing up your data base using Windows Azure Storage can save you up to 60 percent compared to on-premise SAN or tape solutions due to our compression technology.

And, our last scenario here for you to consider is identity. Managing identity across both the public cloud an on-premises applications provides you with the security you want in a great user experience. With Windows Azure Active Directory you can create new identities in the cloud or connect to an existing on-premises Active Directory to federate and manage access to your cloud application. More importantly you can synchronize on-premises identities with Windows Azure Active Directory and enable single sign-on for your users to access [your] cloud application.

I hope I provided you with a good overview of Microsoft hybrid cloud approach with the Cloud OS

In delivering global services at scale—like Bing, Skype and Xbox from our data centers—you can trust that our solutions are battle tested to meet the needs of your business.

And it’s not just battle tested by us but also by our customers. You heard a number of examples today of enterprises and organizations already benefiting from the Cloud OS vision. There are many-many more. This is a look at a small sampling.


We’re excited to see how each of you will transform IT and your businesses by taking advantage of our investments and solutions that are bringing the Cloud OS to life. So whether you’re testing the cloud for the first time, or going along with it, we have the platform and tools to help you every step of the way. Windows Azure in Windows Server support hybrid IT scenarios so you can flex to the cloud when you want, but still using your existing IT assets.


To get started today visit our Microsoft Cloud OS home page [Jan 20, 2014] to learn more and try out our solution.

Thank you for joining me.


Power BI as the lead business solution, Microsoft’s visionary Data Platform solution, unified platform for modern businesses, Microsoft Cloud OS, Cloud OS, mobility, apps, Big Data, cloud, Microsoft hybrid cloud solution, Windows Server, Windows Azure, System Center, Windows Intune, SQL Server, datacenter without boundaries, hybrid design, Microsoft Cloud OS vision, flexible development, unified management, common identity, integrated virtualization, complete data platform, storage, SharePoint, SQL, identity, self-service business intelligence solution, self-service analytics, self-service BI, analysis, visualization, collaboration, business intelligence models, Power BI for Office 365, Office 365, insights from data, data insights, Data Management Gateway, Power BI Sites, Power BI Mobile App, Mobile BI, natural language query, Q&A of Power BI, Microsoft Cloud & Enterprise Group, Microsoft’s Data Platform Vision, Power BI Jumpstart, autonomous marketing, Aston Martin, Microsoft’s Cloud OS home on YouTube, mobile device management, cloud computing, innovation, hybrid cloud, midmarket, datacenter modernization, consumerization of IT, hybrid cloud strategy, Business Intelligence, innovations, Microsoft Excel, Q&A, high-value activities, high-value experiences, high-value focus, MicrosoftMicrosoft strategy, value focus, Active Directory, application development, Azure AD, Cloud first, cloud infrastructure, cloud solutions, enterprise opportunities, PaaS, IaaS, Windows devices, Windows Phone

1. Power BI as the lead business solution and the Microsoft’s visionary Data Platform solution built for it

imageSelf-service business intelligence solution enables all kinds of business users to find relevant information, pull data from Windows Azure and other sources, and prepare business intelligence models for analysis, visualization and collaboration.
February 10: the top message on the Microsoft News Center 

Although it is just linking to this blog entry (no press release or anything like a big splash):
Power BI for Office 365 empowers everyone to analyze, visualize and share data in the cloud [The Official Microsoft Blog, Feb 10, 2014]

The following post is from Quentin Clark, Corporate Vice President, Data Platform Group.

On Monday we announced that Power BI for Office 365 – our self-service business intelligence solution designed for everyone – is generally available. Power BI empowers all kinds of business users to find relevant information, pull data from Windows Azure and other sources, and prepare compelling business intelligence models for analysis, visualization, and collaboration. 

Modernizing business intelligence

Today business intelligence is only used by a fraction of the people that could derive value from it. What we all need is modernized business intelligence which will help everyone get the information they need to understand their job or personal life better. Not just the type of information gained from an Internet search, but also information from expert sources. Now imagine you could bring together these different information sources, discover relationships between facets of information, create new insights and understand your world better. And that you could get others to see what you see, and enable them to collaborate and build on one another’s ideas. And imagine that available on any scale of data and any kinds of computation you might need. Now imagine it’s not just you – but that anyone can access this kind of data-driven discovery and learning. 

Power BI brings together many key aspects of the modernization of business intelligence: a public and corporate catalog of data sets and BI models, a way to search for data, a modern app and a Web-first experience, rich interactive visualizations, collaboration capabilities, tools for IT to govern data and models, and a groundbreaking natural language experience for exploring insights. Together, these capabilities will not just change the kinds of insights we can gain from data, but change the reach of those insights as well.

Bringing big data to a billion users

With Power BI, we have the opportunity to bring these types of data insights to a billion people. Office 365 is broadly adopted and growing – one in four of our enterprise customers now has Office 365. By making our business intelligence features part of Office, we ensure the tools are accessible, and through Office 365, we make the tools easy to adopt – not just the ease of using Web applications, but making things like collaboration, security, data discovery and exploration integrated and turnkey. 

I talked earlier about the importance of reach, and one of the ultimate forms of reach we discovered over the course of developing Power BI has been a feature we named Q&A, which allows anyone to type in search terms – just as they would in Bing – and  get instantaneous, visual results in the form of interactive charts or graphs.

Power BI for Office 365 Overview [MSCloudOS YouTube channel, Jan 22, 2014]

Power BI for Office 365: Self-service analytics for all your data. Learn how Power BI can help you discover, analyze and visualize your data while it empowers you to share your insights and collaborate with your colleagues. Ask questions with Q&A, schedule refreshes from on-prem or cloud data sources and access your reports anytime, anywhere. Try Power BI: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/powerbi/default.aspx#fbid=lVtiyE9CkuC

Realizing value from data

I personally know how significant this all is – as you can imagine, at Microsoft we run our business on our own data platform and on Power BI. In my role as head of our data platform group, I don’t create a lot of models, but I consume a lot of them – everything from the business financials of the SQL Server business and team management to our engineering and services datasets. My mobile business intelligence application for Windows 8 allows me to interact with our daily engineering data. The ability to visualize and interact with data on my large PPI screen allows me and my finance and marketing partners to meet in my office and have a deep conversation about the business. Collaboration through Office 365 and SharePoint Online allows me to share perspective with my peers around the company.

Power BI for Office 365 has empowered me to realize deeper value from data. I’m excited to share this power with everyone.

Get Insights from Data [MSCloudOS YouTube channel, Jan 24, 2014]

One-minute video clip explaining the value of Power BI along with Office 365, focusing on how it addresses business’ pain points (once you have your data, how you get insights from it).

Big insights from big data at the World Economic Forum 2014 [Next at Microsoft Blog, Jan 22, 2014]

I’m at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week – where the world’s leaders, thought leaders and innovators gather to discuss the political, social and economic forces that are transforming the world and our lives. The other force that the World Economic  Forum calls out in their program (above all else) are the technological forces.

WEF 2014 education data with Power BI for Office 365 [Microsoft YouTube channel, Jan 21, 2014]

Education data from the World Economic Forum Global Competitive Index — visualized using Power BI for Office 365

Microsoft’s Vision Center sits directly across from the congress hall where all of these forces are being discussed and inside the center we’re showing how our technologies are helping turn data in to insight. As part of their work, the World Economic Forum produces a large volume of data and indices covering 148 countries. When I saw this data set in an Excel spreadsheet I knew it was ripe for transformation using Power BI for Office 365. As you can see in the video above, we’ve taken all of that data and are helping to deliver insight from it using Power View, Power Map and our Q&A technology. When you see health data below over a time period mapped country by country it really bring the data alive. When you can compare educational data across regions, countries and by type of education, once again the data comes alive. The real treat for me has been using Q&A to ask questions of the data much as you would ask questions of a data scientist.

WEF 2014 healthcare data with Power BI for Office 365 [Microsoft YouTube channel, Jan 21, 2014]

Healthcare data from the World Economic Forum Global Competitive Index — visualized using Power BI for Office 365

If you’ve not had a chance to see Power BI in action I’d encourage you to take up a trial of Office 365 and download the Power BI tools from PowerBI.com – it puts the decision making from data in the hands of anyone and I believe will help to deliver insights that answer some of the big questions at Davos this week and in the future. 

Source: World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report series (various editions)

Find and Combine Data [MSCloudOS YouTube channel, Jan 24, 2014]

One-minute video clip explaining the value of Power BI along with Office 365, focusing on how it addresses business’ pain points (finding and combining data within the SMB).

Microsoft Releases Power BI for Office 365 [C&E News Bytes Blog*, Feb 10, 2014]

Today, Microsoft announced the general availability of Power BI for Office 365, a cloud-based business intelligence service that gives people a powerful new way to work with data in the tools they use every day, Excel and Office 365. Power BI for Office 365 brings together Microsoft’s strengths in cloud, productivity and business intelligence to enable people to easily analyze and visualize data in Excel, discover valuable insights, and share and collaborate on those insights from anywhere with Office 365.

Power BI for Office 365 with Excel allows business users to easily create reports and discover insights in Excel and share and collaborate on those insights in Office 365. Excel includes powerful data modeling and visualization capabilities which enables customer to easily discover, access, and combine their data. Customers also have the ability to create rich 3D geospatial visualizations in Excel.

With Office 365, customers have access to cloud-based capabilities to share visualizations and reports with their colleagues in real time and on mobile devices, interact with their data in new ways to gain faster insights and manage their work more effectively. These key cloud-based capabilities include:

  • A Data Management Gateway which enables IT to build connections to on-premise data sources and schedule refreshes. Business users always have the most up to date reports, whether on their desktop or over their device.
    [From the preview in Oct’13 here:] Through the Data Management Gateway, IT can enable on-premises data access for all reports published into Power BI so that users have the latest data. IT can also enable enterprise data search across their organization, making it easier for users to discover the data they need. The system also monitors data usage across the organization, providing IT with the information they need to understand manage the system overall.
  • [Power] BI Sites, dedicated workspaces optimized for BI projects, which allow business users to quickly find and share data and reports with colleagues and collaborate over BI results.
    [From the preview in Oct’13 here:] Power BI for Office 365 enables users to quickly create Power BI Sites, BI workspaces for users to share and view larger workbooks of up to 250MB, refresh report data, maintain data views for others and track who is accessing them, and easily find the answers they need with natural language query. Users can also stay connected to their reports in Office 365 from any device with HTML5 support for Power View reports and through a new Power BI mobile app for Windows.
  • Real-time access to BI Sites and data no matter where a user is located via mobile devices. Customers can access their data through the browser in HTML5 or through touch-optimized mobile application, available on the Windows Store.
    [From the preview in Oct’13 here:] The Power BI Mobile App is a new visualization app for Office that helps visualize graphs and data residing in an Excel workbook available in the Windows Store. The user is able to navigate through the data with multiple views and ability to zoom in and out at different levels. This app was first available for Windows 8, Windows RT, and Surface devices through the Windows Store and specifically for those customers using the Power BI for Office 365 Preview. It provides touch optimized access to BI reports and models stored in Office 365.
    Power BI App for Windows 8 and Windows RT now available in Store [“Welcome to the US SMB&D TS2 Team Blog”, Aug 21, 2013]
    Microsoft mobile app helps citizens report crimes more quickly to police in Delhi, India [The Fire Hose Blog, Jan 29, 2014]
  • A natural language query experienced called Q&A which allows users to ask questions of their data and receive immediate answers in the form of an interactive table, chart or graph.

Power BI for Office 365 provides an easy on-ramp for organizations who have bet on Office 365 to begin doing self-service BI today. Several customers have already started realizing the benefits of the service, including Revlon, MediaCom, Carnegie Mellon University and Trek.

For more information, read Quentin Clark, Corporate Vice President of the Data Platform Group’s, post [here you’ve already seen/read above] on the Official Microsoft Blog. Customers can find out more about how to purchase Power BI for Office 365 at powerbi.com.

[*About C&E News Bytes Blog: Here you will find a quick synopsis of all news from Microsoft’s Cloud & Enterprise organization as it is released with links to additional information.]

Share Data Insights [MSCloudOS YouTube channel, Jan 24, 2014]

One-minute video clip explaining the value of Power BI along with Office 365, focusing on how it addresses business’ pain points (once you get your data insights, how you can share it within your SMB and use the data to its fullest potential).

Broncos Road to the Big Game [MSCloudOS YouTube channel, Jan 31, 2014]

Power Map tour of the 2013 Broncos season and their road to the Super Bowl XLVIII.

Seahawks Road to the Big Game [MSCloudOS YouTube channel, Jan 31, 2014]

Power Map tour of the 2013 Seahawks season and their road to the Super Bowl XLVIII

What Drives Microsoft’s Data Platform Vision? [SQL Server Blog, Jan 29, 2014]

FEATURED POST BY:   Quentin Clark, Corporate Vice President, The Data Platform Group, Microsoft Corporation

imageIf you follow Microsoft’s data platform work, you have probably observed some changes over the last year or so in our product approach and in how we talk about our products.  After the delivery of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and Office 2013, we ramped-up our energy and sharpened our focus on the opportunities of cloud computing.  These opportunities stem from technical innovation, the nature of cloud computing, and from an understanding of our customers.

In my role at Microsoft, I lead the team that is responsible for the engineering direction of our data platform technologies.  These technologies help our customers derive important insights from their data and make critical business decisions.  I meet with customers regularly to talk about their businesses and about what’s possible with modern data-intensive applications.  Here and in later posts, I will share some key points from those discussions to provide you with insight into our data platform approach, roadmap, and key technology releases.

Microsoft has made significant investments on the opportunities of cloud computing.  In today’s IT landscape, it’s clear that the enterprise platform business is shifting to embrace the benefits of cloud computing—accessibility to scale, increased agility, diversity of data, lowered TCO and more. This shift will be as significant as the move from the mainframe/mini era to the microprocessor era.  And, due to this shift, the shape and role of data in the enterprise will change as applications evolve to new environments.

Today’s economy is built on the data platform that emerged with the microprocessor era—effectively, transactional SQL databases, relational data warehousing and operational BI.  An entire cycle of business growth was led by the emergence of patterns around Systems of Record, everything from ERP applications to Point of Sale systems.  The shift to cloud computing is bringing with it a new set of application patterns, which I sometimes refer to as Systems of Observation (SoO).  There are several forms of these new application patterns: the Internet of Things (IoT), generally; solutions being built around application and customer analytics; and, consumer personalization scenarios.  And, we are just beginning this journey! 

These new application patterns stem from the power of cloud computing—nearly infinite scale, more powerful data analytics and machine learning, new techniques on more kinds of data, a whole host of new information that impacts modern business, and ubiquitous infrastructure that allows the flow of information like never before.  What is being done today by a small number of large-scale Internet companies to harness the power of available information will become possible to apply to any business problem. 

To provide a framework for how we think applications and the information they generate or manage will change—and how that might affect those of us who develop and use those applications—consider these characteristics:

Data types are diverse.  Applications will generate, consume and manipulate data in many forms: transactional records, structured streamed data, truly unstructured data, etc.  Examples include the rise of JSON, the embracing of Hadoop by enterprises, and the new kinds of information generated by a wide variety of newly connected devices (IoT).

Relevant data is not just from inside the enterprise.  Cross-enterprise data, data from other industries and institutions, and information from the Web are all starting to factor into how businesses and the economy function in a big way.  Consider the small business loan extension that accounts for package shipping information as a criteria; or, companies that now embrace the use of social media signals.

Analytics usage is broadening.  Customer behavior, application telemetry, and business trends are just a few examples of the kinds of data that are being analyzed differently than before.  Deep analytics and automated techniques, like machine learning, are being used more often. And, modern architectures (cloud-scale, in-memory) are enabling new value in real-time, highly-interactive data analysis.

Data by-products are being turned into value.  Data that were once considered as by-products of a core business are now valuable across (and outside of) the industries that generate this data; for example, consider the expanding uses of search term data.  Perhaps uniquely, Microsoft has very promising data sets that could impact many different businesses.  

With these characteristics in mind, our vision is to provide a great platform and solutions for our customers to realize the new value of information and to empower new experiences with data.  This platform needs to span across the cloud and the enterprise – where so much key information and business processes exist.  We want to deliver Big Data solutions to the masses through the power of SQL Server and related products, Windows Azure data services, and the BI capabilities of Microsoft Office. To do this, we are taking steps to ensure our data platform meets the demands of today’s modern business.

Modern Transaction Processing—The data services that modern applications need are broader now than traditional RDBMS.  Yes, this too needs to become a cloud asset, and our investments in Windows Azure SQL Database reflect that effort.  We recognize that other forms of data storage are essential, including Windows Azure Storage and Tables, and we need to think about new capabilities as we develop applications in cloud-first patterns.  These cloud platform services need to be low friction, easy to incorporate, and operate seamlessly at scale—and have built-in fundamental features like high availability and regulatory compliance.  We also need to incorporate technical shifts like large memory and high-speed low latency networking—in our on-premises and cloud products. 

Modern Data Warehousing—Hadoop brought flexibility to what is typically done with data warehousing: storing and performing operational and ad-hoc analysis across large datasets.  Traditional data warehousing products are scaling up, and the worlds of Hadoop and relational data models are coming together.  Importantly, enterprise data needs broad availability so that business can find and leverage information from everywhere and for every purpose—and this data will live both in the cloud and in the enterprise datacenter.  We are hearing about customers who now compose meaningful insights from data across Windows Azure SQL Database and Windows Azure Storage processed with Windows Azure HDInsight, our Hadoop-based big data solution. Customers are leveraging the same pattern of relational + Hadoop in our Parallel Data Warehouse appliance product in the enterprise. 

Modern Business Intelligence—Making sense of data signals to gain strategic insight for business will become commonplace.  Information will be more discoverable; not just raw datasets, but those facets of the data that can be most relevant—and the kinds of analytics, including machine learning, that can be applied—will be more readily available.  Power BI for Office 365, our new BI solution, enables balance between self-service BI and IT operations—which is a key accelerant for adoption. With Power BI for Office 365, data from Windows Azure, Office, and on-premises data sources comes together in modern, accessible BI experiences. 

Over the coming months, we are going to publish regular posts to encourage discussions about data and insights and the world of modernized data. We will talk more about the trends, the patterns, the technology, and our products, and we’ll explore together how the new world of data is taking shape. I hope you will engage in this conversation with us; tell us what you think; tell us whether you agree with the trends we think we see—and with the implications of those trends for the modern data platform.

If you’d like more information about our data platform technologies, visit www.microsoft.com/bigdata and follow@SQLServer on Twitter for the latest updates.

Getting Trained on Microsoft’s Expanding Data Platform [SQL Server Blog, Feb 6, 2014] 

With data volumes exploding, having the right technology to find insights from your data is critical to long term success.  Leading organizations are adjusting their strategies to focus on data management and analytics, and we are seeing a consistent increase in organizations adopting the Microsoft data platform to address their growing needs around data.  The trend is clear: CIOs named business intelligence (BI) and analytics their top technology priority in 2012, and again in 2013. Gartner expects this focus to continue during 2014. 2

At Microsoft, we have great momentum in the data platform space and we are proud to be recognized by analysts like IDC reporting that Microsoft SQL Server continues to be the unit leader and became the #2 database vendor by revenue.1Microsoft was named a leader in both the Enterprise Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Waves by Forrester, 3,4and is named a leader in the OPDMS Magic quadrant. 5

The market is growing and Microsoft has great momentum in this space, so this is a great time to dig in and learn more about the technology that makes up our data platform through these great new courses in the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Microsoft’s data platform products

Quentin Clark recently outlined our data platform vision [here you’ve already seen/read above]. This calendar year we will be delivering an unprecedented lineup of new and updated products and services:

  • SQL Server 2014 delivers mission critical analytics and performance by bringing to market new in-memory capabilities built into the core database for OLTP (by 10X and up to 30X) and Data Warehousing (100X). SQL Server 2014 provides the best platform for hybrid cloud scenarios, like cloud backup and cloud disaster recovery, and significantly simplifies the on-ramp process to cloud for our customers with new point-and-click experiences for deploying cloud scenarios in the tools that are already familiar to database administrators (DBAs).
  • Power BI for Office 365 is a new self-service BI solution delivered through Excel and Office 365 which provides users with data analysis and visualization capabilities to identify deeper business insights from their on-premises and cloud data.
  • Windows Azure SQL Database is a fully managed relational database service that offers massive scale-out with global reach, built-in high availability, options for predictable performance, and flexible manageability. Offered in different service tiers to meet basic and high-end needs, SQL Database enables you to rapidly build, extend, and scale relational cloud applications with familiar tools.
  • Windows Azure HDInsight makes Apache Hadoop available as a service in the cloud, and also makes the Map Reduce software framework available in a simpler, more scalable, and cost efficient Windows Azure environment.
  • Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) is a massively parallel processing data warehousing appliance built for any volume of relational data (with up to 100x performance gains) and provides the simplest way to integrate with Hadoop. With PolyBase, PDW can also seamlessly query relational and non-relational data.

In-depth learning through live online technical events

To support the availability of these products, we’re offering live online events that will enable in-depth learning of our data platform offerings. These sessions are available now through the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) and are geared towards IT professionals, developers, database administrators and technical decision makers. In each of these events, you’ll hear the latest information from our engineering and product specialists to help you grow your skills and better understand what differentiates Microsoft’s data offerings.

Here is a brief overview of the sessions that you can register for right now:

Business Intelligence

Faster Insights with Power BI Jumpstart | Register for the live virtual event on February 11

Session Overview: Are you a power Excel user? If you’re trying to make sense of ever-growing piles of data, and you’re into data discovery, visualization, and collaboration, get ready for Power BI. Excel, always great for analyzing data, is now even more powerful with Power BI for Office 365. Join this Jump Start, and learn about the tools you need to provide faster data insights to your organization, including Power Query, Power Map, and natural language querying. This live, demo-rich session provides a full-day drilldown into Power BI features and capabilities, led by the team of Microsoft experts who own them.

Data Management for Modern Business Applications

SQL Server in Windows Azure VM Role Jumpstart | Register for the live virtual event on February 18

Session Overview: If you’re wondering how to use Windows Azure as a hosting environment for your SQL Server virtual machines, join the experts as they walk you through it, with practical, real-world demos. SQL Server in Windows Azure VM is an easy and full-featured way to be up and running in 10 minutes with a database server in the cloud. You use it on demand and pay as you go, and you get the full functionality of your own data center. For short-term test environments, it is a popular choice. SQL Server in Azure VM also includes pre-built data warehouse images and business intelligence features. Don’t miss this chance to learn more about it.

Here’s a snapshot of the great content available to you now, with more to come later on the on the MVA data platform page:

Data Management for Modern Business Applications

Modern Data Warehouse

For more courses and training, keep tabs on the MVA data platform page and the TechNet virtual labs as well.

Thanks for digging in.

Eron Kelly
General Manager
Data Platform Marketing


1Market Analysis: Worldwide Relational Database Management Systems 2013–2017 Forecast and 2012 Vendor Shares, IDC report # 241292 by Carl W. Olofson, May 2013
2Business Intelligence and Analytics Will Remain CIO’s Top Technology Priority G00258063 by W. Roy Schulte | Neil Chandler | Gareth Herschel | Douglas Laney | Rita L. Sallam | Joao Tapadinhas | Dan Sommer 25 November 2013
3The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Data Warehouse, Q4 2013, Forrester Research, Inc.,  December 9, 2013
4The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms, Q4 2013, Forrester Research, Inc.,  December 18, 2013
5Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems by Donald Feinberg, Merv Adrian and Nick Heudecker, October 21, 2013.
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Free Power BI Training – Microsoft Virtual Academy Jump Start [“A Story of BI, BIG Data and SQL Server in Canada” Blog, Feb 5, 2014]

Whether you’re a power Excel user or you’re just trying to make sense of ever-growing piles of data, we have a great day long, free online training session for you on Power BI for Office 365.

This live, demo rich training will provide sessions covering key Power BI features and capabilities and help you learn about the tools you need to provide faster data insights to your organization. 

Course Outline:

  • Introduction to Power BI
  • Drilldown on Data Discovery Using Power Query
  • The Data Stewardship Experience
  • Building Stellar Data Visualizations Using Power View
  • Building 3D Visualizations Using Power Map
  • Understand Power BI Sites and Mobile BI
  • Working with Natural Language Querying Using Q&A
  • Handling Data Management Gateway
  • Get Your Hands on Power BI

Sign Up for this Microsoft Virtual Academy Jump Start led by the team of Microsoft experts who own them.

Live Event Details

  • February 11, 2014
  • 9:00am-5:00pm PST
  • What time is this in my time zone?
  • What: Fast-paced live virtual session
  • Cost: Free
  • Audience: IT Pro
  • Prerequisites: For data analysts, Excel power users, or anyone looking to turn their data into useful business information.
  • Register Now>>

Interview with Marc Reguera, Director of Finance at Microsoft [MSCloudOS YouTube channel, Feb 10, 2014]

Hear directly from Marc Reguera, Director of Finance at Microsoft and BI champion how Power BI is changing the way finance works inside Microsoft.

Power BI Webinar Series [MSFT for Work Blog, Jan 22, 2014]

Big data scientists and the finance department haven’t always seen eye to eye in most companies. Now is your chance to embrace big data to free your finance department to focus on the ways to add the most value.

You are invited to join Microsoft Finance Director Marc Reguera and members of the Microsoft finance leadership team to find out what they did to become a more empowered and influential finance organization. The powerful new business intelligence tools they will demonstrate have been under wraps for almost two years and have so far only been used within Microsoft.


Now the tools have been road-tested and are ready for you to try. Grab your chance to learn how the Microsoft new BI tools will help your business not only adapt to the world of big data, but actually thrive in it.

Register for any and all of the webinars you are interested in:

1/23/14: Visualization: See how these powerful new tools have improved Microsoft’s ability to consume big data and develop insights by simplifying the data and using visualization tools. Register here.

1/30/14: Definitions: Get the best practices for creating and aligning behind a common set of data definitions and taxonomies. Learn how to get everyone on the same page. Register here.

2/13/14: Outsourcing: Learn how Microsoft worked with partners to optimize and outsource non-strategic finance tasks so the organization could focus on high-value activities. Register here.

2/20/14: Cloud collaboration: Learn how your organization can focus more time on delivering business insights by using Power BI and Microsoft Office 365. Register here.

3/6/14: Making things easy to comprehend without making them simplistic: See how Microsoft finance teams consume and analyze millions of rows of data and present their analysis in a narrative that’s easy to understand for multiple audiences. Register here.

Taken together, this series of webinars will help your company’s finance department adapt to a world of rapidly shifting paradigms and what can be, without the right tools, the overwhelming era of big data.

Business Intelligence: “The Eyes and Ears of Your Business” [Microsoft for Work Blog, Jan 30, 2014]

Businesses are collecting more data than ever before, and technology is making that process increasingly easier and more affordable. The challenge for business owners is 1) how to quickly turn that raw data into actionable business insights, and 2) how to give more people within an organization access to those insights on a self-serve basis.
Organizations must have insight into how their operations are performing in order to stay competitive. Companies who successfully manage their big data assets are more profitable than companies not making this investment, says Jason Baick, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft. Simply put, “[business intelligence] is the eyes and ears of your business,” Baick says.
Release data from the IT department
Data analysis started off as a highly specialized process. “It was always a barrier to self-service information … the treasure trove of the data was locked up in the IT department,” Baick points out. Today there are easy-to-use data visualization tools that offer anyone within an organization access to real-time business insights.
Take the Microsoft Power BI suite, for example, which gives both businesses and the individual an easy-to-use platform to visualize their data. Given that many businesses already have the infrastructure that Power BI is built on (e.g. Microsoft SharePoint) and a familiarity with its feature set, integration and adoption is simplified. Your users don’t have an intimidation factor because they already know how to use Excel, explains Baick. By equipping your employees with these types of tools, you can enable team members to unearth real-time insights, ranging from targeting a prospect at the exact right time to make the sale, to determining where the company can cut costs, to revealing where they should invest more.

Here’s a rundown of specific Power BI tools and what they can offer your business:

  • Discover and Combine
    • Search and access all your company’s data and public data from one place using Power Query. Give your team the ability to be more efficient while cutting down on the cost of investing in multiple, disparate data tools.
  • Model and Analyze
    • Empower your employees to create analytical models using Power Pivot. Since this is built on familiar software like Excel, you won’t have to worry about the cost of training or having to hire new staff for implementation.
  • Visualize
    • Power View and Power Map enables your team members to quickly translate big data sets and create easy-to-understand visuals without a huge time investment.
  • Share and Collaborate
    • Seamlessly share and edit workbooks from any device, allowing your employees quick and easy access to important information in real time.
  • Get Answers and Insights
    • The new Q&A feature gives your employees the ability to ask any question of their data without requiring specialized skills to draw out these insights.
  • Access Anywhere
    • Give your staff access to the Power BI tool set from any device, any location. This empowers your employees to access data in real time, which could mean the difference between making and not making a sale.
How are people using Power BI?
Companies like MCH Strategic Data are already employing the Power BI suite to get more out of their data. MCH collects an enormous amount of education and healthcare marketing data for their clients. After 85 years in the business, they’re now able to deliver new and unique insights to clients like never before. One application has been to create videos using tools like Power Map to create data visualizations showing the geographic range of socioeconomic status across various school districts. They’ve also made subsets of their data available and searchable by Power BI users, including datasets on hospitals, school systems, and emergency preparedness services throughout the US
Building a data-driven organization
Everyone at your company can contribute to uncovering business insights, and it’s important to give them the tools to do so. Using your data in a smart and strategic way enables you to turn it into actionable business insights and to stay ahead of the competition.

The Autonomy of Marketing with Big Data [Microsoft for Work Blog, Jan 15, 2014]

We spoke to Jeff Marcoux, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Dynamics CRM, about how big data and data insights have changed marketing. He outlined three ways that companies can use big data to reimagine their marketing efforts.

He also outlined an all-encompassing rule when using data insights for marketing efforts: it’s not about how much data you have, it’s what you do with it. “Large data makes graphs, but significant data tells a story,” said Marcoux. Learning how to leverage significant big data into actionable insights is the key to unlocking its potential as an asset to your business. Here are Jeff’s three key ways companies can do smart things with their data:

  1. Embrace the idea that autonomous marketing, or marketing that is auto-optimized and auto-customized according to customer insights and machine-generated learning, can reinvigorate marketing campaigns. The key being it’s a more responsive marketing campaign that continuously strengthens and adjusts itself.
  2. Use customer insights to create stronger sales-marketing partnerships by increasing positive brand awareness and generating more accurate information on qualified leads and revenue attribution. In other words, more insight contributing to less finger-pointing and, ultimately, greater partnerships. 
  3. Translate data into business impact by building custom sales kits appropriate for every opportunity and every customer, monitoring the end-to-end customer life cycle, and keeping customers hooked. After all, according to Marcoux, “existing customers are the best sellers.”

Data insights will help drive marketing at the deepest strategic levels, providing actionable insights that can constantly be measured against and refined. Remember, it’s not how much data you’ve got, it’s what you do with it. If your organization has started to use data insights in your marketing efforts, do you have any tips on how to better use data? Sound off in the comments!

Autonomous Marketing: Using data to perfectly personalize marketing efforts [Microsoft for Work Blog, Jan 30, 2014]

Personalization is the gold standard for marketing efforts. If you can connect with a customer on a personal level and demonstrate that you understand your audience, the customer is far more likely to respond to your marketing campaigns. It may seem like a daunting task to crunch that much customer information and automatically adapt it to your marketing efforts, but it doesn’t have to be. Technologies exist that allow you to update campaigns with new data (auto-optimize) and use that updated data to better target your efforts (auto-customize), removing the guesswork you’re your campaigns. Marketing that is auto-optimized and auto-customized based on customer insights and machine generated learning—called “autonomous marketing”—is now a tangible reality for many businesses.
Autonomous marketing and big data will be critical in re-imagining a more personalized approach to marketing—and learning to harness this approach will keep your business ahead of the curve as marketing innovators.
Data, data everywhere…
The amount of data available today is overwhelming. Take, for example, a single business—just between the company’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter, there’s a lot to keep track of. All this information needs to be consolidated and combed to figure out which data is significant and what happens next. For many businesses the question becomes: what do I do with my data?
According to Jeff Marcoux, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Dynamics CRM, that data should be fed to an engine that’s automatically optimizing itself. In practice, this “auto-optimizing” capability translates into the ability to make campaign improvements in real-time. The result is a more responsive marketing campaign that continuously strengthens and adjusts itself to help dial in on more precise market segments and figure out what’s working.
Getting personal
The clincher, once you’ve honed in on those market segments, is auto-customizing marketing campaigns down to the individual level. “Customers are already so far down the buying cycle when they get to you (nearly 57%) and getting personal is the only way to land your message and have it resonate with consumers,” said Marcoux. Once that same engine is automatically tailoring marketing efforts based on data insights, you’ll know you’ve crossed-over into today’s gold standard for marketing—personalization perfection.
“Autonomous marketing is a beast,” said Marcoux, “once it gets going you just have to pay attention and keep feeding it.” The autonomous marketing beast metabolizes content and, so long as it’s fed plenty of “healthy” (significant) data, it will do its job to improve marketing. In turn, you will gain valuable insight into revenue performance and ROI, this way you can pinpoint which marketing maneuvers were converted into real business impact.
A healthy beast, a happy business
The success of autonomous marketing relies on 2 things: the quality of the data it’s fed and whether you take advantage of the insights it offers. A responsive, personalized approach to marketing is where we’re headed—are you doing everything to make sure your business is headed there too?

The Human Side of Autonomous Marketing [Microsoft for Work Blog, Jan 30, 2014]

How do you retain the creative side of marketing when big data and autonomous marketing inevitably change the way marketers work? Data insights enhance the efficacy of your marketing efforts; however, human input is always necessary to decipher big data. Autonomous marketing, used to enable marketers and nail down effective marketing campaigns, is the secret to realizing business impact.
Metrics for the Mind
The application of autonomous marketing is a necessary next step in meeting a new demand, but it doesn’t supplant the need for marketers in the flesh. According to Jeff Marcoux, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, marketers will never be forced to relinquish their instincts and creativity—their marketing guts—because analytics, data, and insight help fuel creativity.
“The main reason I say that,” said Marcoux, “is because there’s always going to be new channels and marketers have to come up with new ways to use them.” Take for example the exodus of college-age students from Facebook (which Marcoux attributes to the fact that their parents on are on it) to something more like Snapchat. Although data may shed some insight on the shift, it’s up to marketers to take advantage of it in a creative way (e.g., showing loyal fans a secret menu or product announcement before the rest of the world gets to see it).
Take Colorado University’s Online program at their Anschutz Medical Campus, which faced the challenge of how to remain competitive to college students and reach potential students on their own terms. CU used Microsoft Dynamics CRM to identify what their potential students liked, the media they consumed, and the social networks they used—processes that would normally take marketers months of research—and automated it so their marketing team could focus on killer campaigns that would engage the potential students they did find. The result? Increased student retention and recruitment.
Coming up with the emotional content that drives a campaign is where the creativity and experience come in. Marcoux sees autonomous marketing as a way to free up marketers to do what they love—create and innovate—and, today, there’s plenty of opportunity to innovate as campaigns become increasingly personalized.
A Mind-Body Approach to Marketing
Customers don’t want to be just a number; they want to be known. “With social media, everything is personal and everything is online,” said Marcoux. “Hooking” modern consumers is a matter of building those personal, emotional relationships—identifying who they are and what their need is, educating them on a solution, and then ultimately providing that solution.
“We’ve seen that personalization come across in emails and social posts, but that’s all been enabled by big data,” said Marcoux. Customers are already so far down the buying cycle when they get to you (nearly 57%), and getting personal is the only way to land your message and have it resonate with consumers these days.
Autonomous marketing powered by data insights helps marketers gather and combine information from many different sources in order to figure out what content is working. This way, marketers can focus on what is actually selling their product rather than getting petrified by what Marcoux calls “analysis paralysis,” or the misinterpretation and incorrect analysis of data.
Ultimately, autonomous marketing is a way to deal with the deluge of social data and other information to help marketers do their job better. Reimagining marketing, according to Marcoux, is a matter of using big data to narrow in on those granular market segmentations and continuing to fine-tune an effective, personalized marketing approach that will hook and keep hooked customers.

2. Microsoft’s vision of the unified platform for modern businesses

THE BIG PICTURE: Microsoft Cloud OS Overview [MSCloudOS YouTube channel, Jan 21, 2014]

Tune into this bite size video where you will hear Microsoft General Manager, Gavriella Schuster, provide an overview of the Microsoft Cloud OS and how the underlying technologies – Windows Server, System Center, Windows Azure, Microsoft SQL Server, and WIndows Intune- can help you cloud-optimize your business today. Interested in learning more? Visit our Microsoft Cloud OS homepage: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/cloud-os/ Ready to try these solutions and experience the benefits first hand? Contact your Microsoft account manager or partner to schedule an Immersion experience today.

Business Insights Newsletter Article | October 2013


When conversation turns to cloud computing, there is a lot of noise. Press, vendors, analysts, bloggers and others deliver opinions on what a successful cloud strategy entails.
Converging technologies such as Big Data, Mobility, BYOD and Social are transforming how businesses operate and compete and are relying on cloud as a critical enabler. Cloud itself is considered an emerging megatrend representing a real opportunity for IT to introduce more efficiency across every operational line of business.
The modern workforce isn’t just better connected and more mobile than ever before, it’s also more discerning (and demanding) about the hardware and software used on the job. While company leaders around the world are celebrating the increased productivity and accessibility of their workforce, the exponential increase in devices and platforms that the workforce wants to use can stretch a company’s infrastructure (and IT department!) to its limit.”
Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft
Microsoft believes that cloud is quite simply about a single concept – value. In this article we will share how Microsoft helps you realize the value of cloud, why Windows Server is best suited to take you on the journey, and let you hear how luxury car-maker Aston Martin transformed their business and their IT department by using a Windows Server hybrid strategy.
Your Journey to the Cloud
The true value of cloud is the opportunity for IT to get all the benefits of scale, speed, and agility while still protecting existing investments.
Cloud better enables the introduction of the megatrends of Big Data, Social and Mobile by providing answers to help IT manage risk while delivering quality services and applications quickly, efficiently, securely. As organizations start their journey to the cloud, they typically are grappling with a combination of traditional on-premise and cloud-based solutions; however these hybrid scenarios have the potential to introduce new complications. Working with multiple versions of conflicting operating systems, management tools and applications is usually counter-productive and results in staff frustration, departmental inefficiencies and poor productivity. To be successful, teams need a way to consistently manage, support and automate the datacenter. Microsoft Cloud OS Vision Begins with Windows Server 2012 R2
There are multiple ways for customers to think about how they provision their infrastructure, and we aim to enable an ‘and’ philosophy for our customers so they don’t have to think that it’s an either/or decision. We allow them to take servers and other technology they are running on premises and think about how they might want to move some of it into cloud services, while still having a consistent level of management, identity and security.”
Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft GM US Server Tools
Organizations can begin to realize tremendous value with cloud when they leverage the ability to operate and manage a converged infrastructure that shares a common operating system and set of tools across hybrid environments supporting an assortment of devices, applications and users.
Figure 1: Windows Server Delivers Value with a Unified Hybrid Environment
At the heart of the Microsoft Cloud OS vision is Windows Server 2012 R2. With Windows Server 2012 R2 Microsoft’s experience delivering global-scale cloud services enables organizations of all sizes to take advantage of new features and enhancements across virtualization, storage, networking, virtual desktop infrastructure, access and information protection, and more.
The value of standardizing on Windows 2012 R2 as your Cloud OS strategy includes:
Experience Enterprise-class Performance and Scale
    • Take advantage of even better performance and more efficient capacity utilization in your datacenter.
    • Increase the agility of your business with a consistent experience across every environment.
    • Leverage the proven, enterprise-class virtualization and cloud platform that scales to continuously run your largest workloads while enabling robust recovery options to protect against service outages.
      Drive Bottom Line Efficiencies with Cost Savings and Automation
        • Enjoy resilient, multi-tenant-aware storage and networking capabilities for a wide range of workloads.
        • Re-deploy your budget to other critical projects with the cost-savings delivered through a Windows 2012 R2 Cloud OS.
        • Automate a broad set of built-in management tasks.
        • Simplify the deployment of major workloads and increase operational efficiencies.
          Unlock Competitive Advantage with Faster Application Deployment
            • Build, deploy and scale applications and web sites quickly, and with more flexibility than ever before.
            • Unlock improved application portability between on-premises environments and public and service provider clouds in concert with Windows Azure VM and System Center 2012 R2 making it simple to rapidly shift your critical applications virtually anywhere, anytime.
            • Increase flexibility and elasticity of IT services with the Windows Server 2012 R2 platform for mission-critical applications while protecting existing investments with enhanced support for open standards, open source applications and various development languages.
              Empower Users with Better Access Anywhere
                • Windows Server 2012 R2 makes it easier to deploy a virtual desktop infrastructure making it possible for users to access IT from virtually anywhere, providing them a rich Windows experience while ensuring enhanced data security and compliance.
                • Lower storage costs significantly by supporting a broad range of storage options and VHD de-duplication.
                • Easily manage your user’s identities across the datacenter and into the cloud to help deliver secure access to corporate resources.

                  In Summary

                  The datacenter is the hub for everything IT offers to the business: storage, networking and computing capacity. The right Cloud OS strategy enables IT to transform those resources into a datacenter that is capable of handling changing needs and unexpected opportunities. With Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft offers a consistent operating system and set of management tools that acts and behaves in exactly the same manner across every setting. Windows Server 2012 R2 delivers the same experience and requires the same skill-sets and knowledge to manage and operate in any environment. Windows Server 2012 R2 delivers a “future-proof” road-map with a fully seamless and scalable platform, making organizations agile, nimble and ready. Highly scalable, Windows Server 2012 is already powering many of the worlds’ largest datacenters – including Microsoft’s – proving out capabilities at cloud scale and then delivering them for the enterprise. With the latest release of Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft is redefining the server category, delivering hundreds of new features and enhancements spanning virtualization, networking, storage, user experience, cloud computing, automation, and more. The goal of Windows Server 2012 R2 is to help organizations transform their IT operations to reduce costs and deliver a whole new level of business value.
                  Aston Martin Uses Windows Server 2012 to Drive IT Transformation
                  Behind every luxury sports car produced by Aston Martin is a sophisticated IT infrastructure. The goal of the Aston Martin IT team is to optimize that infrastructure so that it performs as efficiently as the production line it supports. To meet that goal, Aston Martin has standardized on Microsoft technology. The IT team chose the Windows Server 2012 operating system, including Hyper-V technology to virtualize its data center and build four private clouds to dynamically allocate IT resources to the business as needed. For cloud and data center management, Aston Martin uses Microsoft System Center 2012.
                  “The IT team’s purpose is to enable Aston Martin to build the most beautiful sports cars in the world. So, from servers, to desktops, to production line PCs, Microsoft technology is behind everything we do.”
                  Daniel Roach-Rooke, IT Infrastructure Manager, Aston Martin
                  Watch this short video to learn how the team at Aston Martin envisioned and executed on their strategy.

                  imageWatch the Aston Martin video now

                  Call to Action
                  With Windows Server Data Center 2012 R2 set to release in November, now is the time to see your Microsoft licensed solution provider for information about software savings.

                  MSCloudOS YouTube supersite:

                  Microsoft’s Cloud OS home on YouTube to find the latest products & solutions news, demos as well as training videos for Windows Server, SQL Server, System Center, Windows Intune, Microsoft BI, and Windows Azure—the technologies that bring Microsoft’s vision of Cloud OS to life.
                  imageEvolving IT in the Era of the Cloud OS [June 3, 2013] Today’s massive technology shifts are creating new demands on IT. Learn how Microsoft hybrid cloud solutions deliver new innovations that can help you solve the challenges you face now.
                  imageThe Enterprise Cloud Era [June 3, 2013] See Microsoft President Satya Nadella talk about Microsoft’s cloud-first approach.
                  imageTechEd North America 2013 Keynote [June 24, 2013] Despite sea changes in cloud computing, device proliferation, and the explosion of data, IT pros and developers still live for one simple thing: to deliver amazing experiences for their customers and end-users. In this keynote, Brad Anderson will unveil a broad set of new capabilities across the full suite of Microsoft Cloud OS products and technologies designed with that simple end goal in mind. Together with enterprise-optimized enhancements to the Windows 8 client, the advances that Brad will showcase in this keynote significantly advance Microsoft’s long-term effort to give you the most advanced and comprehensive set of services, products, and technologies in the industry. Learn how Windows 8 is ready for business, how Windows Azure is changing hybrid and private cloud computing, and how the world of modern application development is evolving. It’s time to embrace the challenges of a world full of risks and opportunities. See what Microsoft is delivering next, including new enterprise enhancements in the upcoming Windows 8.1 update, and learn what it means for your business as well as your career.
                  imageTechEd Europe 2013 Keynote [June 26, 2013] In an era of global technological change, IT pros and developers still live for one basic thing: to deliver amazing experiences. In this keynote from TechEd Europe 2013, Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson, will detail Microsoft’s strategy to help customers achieve that simple goal by leveraging new innovations in cloud services, device management, application development, data insights, and datacenter evolution. Mr. Anderson will review a broad set of newly-announced updates across the full suite of Microsoft Cloud OS products and technologies, including Windows Server, Microsoft System Center, Windows Azure, SQL Server, Visual Studio, and more. It’s time to embrace the challenges of a world full of new opportunities. See what Microsoft is delivering next and learn what it means for your business as well as your career.
                  imageMicrosoft Keynote Highlights from Oracle OpenWorld 2013 Watch highlights from Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson‘s keynote address from Oracle OpenWorld 2013 as Brad discusses the Cloud OS vision and how Microsoft and Oracle are working together to bring the power of Oracle’s software to private/public cloud and service providers. This new partnership allows customers using Java, Oracle WebLogic Server and Oracle Database to run this software on Windows Azure and Windows Hyper-V.
                  MSCloudOS YouTube supersite:

                  Microsoft’s Cloud OS home on YouTube to find the latest products & solutions news, demos as well as training videos for the technologies that bring Microsoft’s vision of Cloud OS to life. Subsites:
                  SQL Server (YouTube)
                  Windows Server (YouTube)
                  System Center & Windows Intune (YouTube)
                  BI (YouTube)
                  Case Studies (YouTube)

                  A People-centric Approach to Mobile Device Management [In The Cloud Blog, Jan 29, 2014]

                  The following post is from Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Windows Server & System Center.

                  It’s been a little while since I wrote about the work we are doing around the BYO and Consumerization trends – but this is an area I will be discussing much more often over the next several months.

                  Consumerization is an area that is changing and moving quickly, and I believe the industry is also at an important time where we really need to step back and define what our ultimate destination looks like.

                  I think there is a great deal of agreement across the industry on what we are all trying to accomplish – and this is aligned with Microsoft’s vision. Microsoft’s vision is to enable people to be productive on all the devices they love while helping IT ensure that corporate assets are secure and protected.

                  One particular principle that I am especially passionate about is the idea that the modern, mobile devices which are built to consume cloud services should get their policy and apps delivered from the cloud. Put another way: Modern mobile devices should be managed from a cloud service.

                  One of the reasons I am such a big believer in this is the rapid pace at which new devices and updates to the devices are released. Enabling people across all the devices they love brings with it the need to stay abreast of the changes and updates happening across Windows, iOS, and the myriad of Android devices. By delivering this as a service offering, we can stay on top of this for you. Thus, as changes are needed, we simply update the service and the new capabilities are available for you. This means no longer needing to update your on-premises infrastructure – we take care of all of it for you.

                  System Center Configuration Manager is the undisputed market leader in managing desktops around the world, and now we are delivering many of our MDM/MAM capabilities from the cloud. We have deeply integrated our Intune cloud service with ConfigMgr so organizations can take advantage of managing all of their devices in one familiar control plane using their existing IT skills.  Put simply:  We are giving organizations the choice of using their current ConfigMgr console extended with the Intune service, or doing everything from the cloud using only Intune if they wish to do management without an on-premises infrastructure.

                  On a fairly regular basis I encounter the question about whether or not cloud-based management is robust enough for enterprise organizations. My response to this has surprised our partners and customers with just how powerful a cloud-based solution can be. The answer is a resounding, “Heck yes it is robust and secure enough!”

                  Windows Intune and Windows Azure Active Directory puts IT leadership in the driver’s seat by allowing an organization to define and manage user identities and access, operate a single administrative console to manage devices, deliver apps, and help protect data.

                  The result is employee satisfaction, a streamlined infrastructure, and a more efficient IT team – all with existing, familiar, on-prem investments extended to the cloud.

                  This holistic approach is central to Microsoft’s strategy to help organizations solve one of the most complex and difficult tasks facing IT teams today: Mobile device management (MDM).

                  As I discussed on the GigaOM Mobilize panel back in October (on the topic of “The Future of Mobile and the Enterprise,” recapped here), it wasn’t that long ago that an IT department worked in a pretty homogenous hardware and software environment – essentially everything was a PC. Today, IT teams are responsible for dozens of form factors and multiple platforms that require specific processes, skills, and maintenance.

                  Helping organizations proactively manage this new generation of IT is what makes me so excited about the advancements and innovation we are delivering as a part of next week’s update to the Windows Intune service. These updates include:

                  • Support for e-mail profiles that can configure a device with the correct e-mail server information and related policies – and it can also remove that profile and related e-mail via a remote wipe.
                  • In addition to our unified deployment mode and integration with System Center Configuration Manager, Windows Intune can now stand alone as a cloud-only MDM solution. This is a big win for organizations that want a cloud-only management solutions to manage both their mobile devices and PC’s.
                  • There is also support for new data protection settings in iOS 7 – including the “managed open in” capability that protects corporate data by controlling the apps and accounts that can open documents and attachments.
                  • This update also enables broader protection capabilities like remotely locking a lost device, or resetting a device’s PIN if forgotten.

                  Windows Intune offers simple and comprehensive device management, regardless of the platform, for the devices enterprises are already using, with the IT infrastructure they already own.

                  Looking ahead to later this year, we will continue to launch additional updates to the service including the ability to allow/deny apps from running (or accessing certain sites), conditional access to e-mail depending upon the status of the device, app-specific restrictions regarding how apps interact and use data, and bulk enrollment of devices.

                  This functionality is delivered as part of the rapid, easy-to-consume, and ongoing updates that are possible with a cloud-based service.

                  Today’s announcements are just a small example of the broader set of innovations Microsoft has been developing. Our focus on a people-centric approach to solving consumerization challenges has led to a number of product improvements and updates like:

                  The number of factors at work within this Consumerization of IT trend make it clear that to effectively address it we have to think beyond devices and focus on a broader set of challenges and opportunities.

                  Microsoft is in a unique position to address the holistic needs behind this industry shift with things like public cloud management, private cloud management, identity management, access management, security, and more.

                  For organizations who haven’t already evaluated Microsoft’s device management solutions – now is the time. With the rapid release and innovation cycle offered by a cloud-based service like Intune, the ability to keep your infrastructure optimized, efficient, and secure has never been easier.

                  The Virtuous Cycle of Cloud Computing [In The Cloud Blog, Jan 29, 2014]

                  The following post is from Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Windows Server & System Center.

                  In the Day 1 keynote at the recent re:Invent conference, there was an interesting point made about the virtuous cycle that can occur for the cloud vendor and for customers. As I listened to the keynote, I kept thinking: “They are missing the biggest benefit for the entire industry; if the public cloud vendor has the right strategy and is thinking about how to benefit the largest population possible, then they are completely missing how this virtuous cycle can grow to benefit every organization in the world – even if they are not using the public cloud.”
                  Let me explain a bit more about what I mean.  (And, before I get too much farther along, I want to note that this post ties into the cool news yesterday about our work with the Open Compute Project.)
                  The virtuous cycle of a public cloud looks a lot like the image below.  As the usage of the public cloud grows, you need more hardware to meet demand – and for sustained growth you will need a lot of hardware. This need for hardware increases your purchasing power and you can then negotiate lower prices as you purchase in bulk. As your purchasing power grows and your costs drop, you then pass those savings on to your customers by dropping your prices. The lower prices increases demand and the virtuous cycle continues.image
                  For customers using the public cloud, they can see the benefits of this virtuous cycle (the lower prices) – but what about organizations that are also using private and hosted clouds? How can they gain benefits from what is happening?
                  Organizations with multiple clouds can benefit if (and only if!) that public cloud vendor has at the core of its strategy an intention to take everything that it is learning from operating that public cloud and delivering it back for use in datacenters around world – not just in its own.
                  This is where Microsoft is so unique! Microsoft is the only organization in the world operating a globally available, at-scale public cloud that delivers back everything it is learning for use in datacenters of every customer (and, honestly, every competitor). Our view is the learning that we are getting from the public cloud should be delivered for all the world to benefit.
                  This innovation can be seen by applying these public cloud learnings in products like Windows Server, System Center, and the Windows Azure Pack – and these products are the only cloud offerings that are consistent across public, hosted and private clouds – ensuring customers avoid cloud lock in and, maximize workload mobility, and have the flexibility to choose the cloud that best meets their needs.
                  With this in mind, I want to show you how I think the virtuous cycle can and should look – and how it can benefit any organization in the world.
                  First, at the center of this virtuous cycle is incredible innovation. This means innovation in software, innovation in hardware, and innovation in processes. When you are ordering and deploying 100,000’s of new servers and xx bytes of storage every year – you have to innovate everywhere or you will literally buckle under demands and costs of procuring, deploying, operating, and retiring hardware at this scale.
                  Microsoft is addressing this challenge in the most direct and complete way possible: Over the last three years, Microsoft has spent more than $15B building datacenters around the world and filling them with the hardware and capacity demanded by customers of Windows Azure and other Microsoft cloud services.
                  We keep our public cloud costs low by managing our supply chain for this kind of capacity, and, per the cycle, we pass these savings to you. We also carefully track things like the number of days from when we place an order for hardware to the time the order appears on our docks (“order-to-dock”), and then we track the number of hours/days from “dock-to-live” where we literally have customers’ workloads being hosted on that hardware. Throughout this process we set aggressive quarterly targets and we work constantly to consistently drive those numbers down. If we didn’t have a best in class product and performance, it would be impossible to remain profitable at this kind of scale.
                  As you can imagine, after spending $Billions on hardware every year, we are highly incented (to put it lightly) to find ways to drive our hardware costs down. The single best way we have found to do this is to use software to do things traditionally handled by hardware. For example, in Windows Azure we are able to deliver highly available, globally available storage at incredibly low prices through software innovations like SDN – all of which is based on low-cost, direct-attached storage. This brings storage economics never before seen in the industry.
                  One example of this is the most common workload hosted in Azure: The “Web” workload. Whether it is Azure acting as the web tier for hybrid application, or the entire workload being hosted in Azure, the web workload is a part of just about every application. This makes it a great place for innovation. In Azure we pioneered high-density web site hosting where we can literally host 5,000+ web sites on a single Windows Server OS instance. This dramatically reduces our costs, which in turn reduces your costs.
                  At Microsoft, we think the public cloud’s virtuous cycle can actually get a lot bigger, a lot more functional, and a lot more powerful by integrating service providers and hosted clouds.


                  Not only is this expanded virtuous cycle more practical, I’m sure it also looks familiar to what is already up and running in your organization.

                  There are some pretty solid examples of innovation that was pioneered in Azure and then brought to the whole industry for use everywhere through Windows Server and System Center:

                  • For highly available, low-cost direct attached storage, in Windows Server 2012 we shipped a set of capabilities we call Storage Spaces. Storage Spaces delivers the value of a SAN on low-cost, direct-attached storage, and it has been widely recognized as one of the most innovative new capabilities in Windows Server – and it was significantly updated in Windows Server 2012 R2.
                  • Service Bus provides a messaging queue solution in the public cloud that can be used by developers for things like a queuing system across clouds and building loosely coupled applications. Check this post for an in-depth review of Service Bus. Service Bus also ships as a component of the Windows Azure Pack – providing value pioneered in the public cloud for use in private and hosted clouds.
                  • Earlier I referenced the ability to host 5,000+ web sites on a single Windows Server OS instance. This has had an obvious economic impact on of costs of Windows Azure where we host millions of web sites. We proved that capability in Windows Azure, battle-hardened it, and now it ships for customers around to world to use in their datacenters as a part of what we call the Windows Azure Pack (WAP).
                  This is what it looks like when the complete virtuous cycle is in effect.
                  Our efforts haven’t been limited to software, however. Our innovative work with hardware in our datacenters has driven down costs while at the same time increasing the capacity each core and processor can support.
                  Our work with hardware was highlighted yesterday when we announced that we are joining the Open Compute Project and contributing the full design of the server hardware we use in Azure. We refer to this design as the “Microsoft cloud server specification.” The Microsoft cloud server specification provides the blueprints for the datacenter servers we have designed to deliver the world’s most diverse portfolio of cloud services at global scale. These servers are optimized for Windows Server software and can efficiently manage the enormous availability, scalability and efficiency requirements of Windows Azure, our global cloud platform.
                  This design spec offers dramatic improvements over traditional enterprise server designs: We have seen up to 40% server cost savings, 15% power efficiency gains, and a 50% reduction in deployment and service times. We also expect this server design to contribute to our environmental sustainability efforts by reducing network cabling by 1,100 miles and metal by10,000 tons.

                  This level of contribution is unprecedented in the industry, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the media:

                  • Wired: Microsoft Open Sources Its Internet Servers, Steps Into the Future
                  • Forbes: The Worm Has Turned – Microsoft Joins The Open Compute Project

                  These are just a couple examples of innovation that is happening here at Microsoft – innovations in process, hardware and software.

                  At Microsoft, we recognize that the majority of organizations are going to use multiple clouds and will want to take advantage of Hybrid Cloud scenarios. Every organization is going to have their own unique journey to the cloud – and organizations should make decisions about cloud partners that truly enable them with the flexibility to use multiple clouds, constant innovation, and consistency across clouds.

                  This is an area that we focus on every day, and you can read more about it as a part of our ongoing, in-depth series, Success with Hybrid Cloud.

                  Vendor Spotlight: A Microsoft GM On New Midmarket IT Tools [Exchange Events, Vendor Spotlight, April 23, 2013]

                  Mr. MidmarketCIO had the opportunity to sit down with Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft’s general manager of the company’s U.S. server and tools business unit. In this interview, Schuster shares her views on the challenges midmarket businesses face today and Microsoft’s vision to address those challenges with the Cloud OS.

                  MES: Can you share with me a little about Microsoft’s vision of the cloud today and how it can address today’s IT challenges for midmarket customers?
                  Schuster: Customers face many challenges today with the new levels of mobility in their workforce and the new devices that enable mobility. This new level of consumerization has enabled avid use of technology with an always-on connectivity.  There are also many more applications available and an explosion of data to manage. All of these things really challenge customers to reconsider how they provision, secure and enable technology within their organization.
                  There are multiple ways for customers to think about how they provision their infrastructure, and we aim to enable an ‘and’ philosophy for our customers so they don’t have to think that it’s an either/or decision. We allow them to take servers and other technology they are running on premises and think about how they might want to move some of it into cloud services, while still having a consistent level of management, identity and security.
                  Our vision for the ‘Cloud OS’ is to really have the best of both worlds. It’s an easy-on/easy-off usage of the cloud that meets the needs of midmarket organizations and can be an extension of current server environments.
                  MES: Is Microsoft’s ‘Cloud OS’ synonymous with Windows Server 2012? Or does it include other Microsoft technologies?
                  Schuster: Windows Server 2012 is certainly the basis of the Cloud OS because it provides the primary framework for identity, access, security and manageability, and also provides that core virtualization layer. Windows Server 2012 is also the basis of Windows Azure, our public cloud platform, so it gives midmarket CIOs the ability to easily extend their on-premises datacenter to the public cloud using a common set of tools between the two. The other core technology in the Cloud OS is Microsoft System Center 2012 because it gives customers that common level of additional management where they can set policies, provision their workloads, get deep application insights, etc. regardless of where the workload is actually running—on-premises or in the cloud.
                  MES: Where do you recommend customers start with their data-center modernization initiative? Why?
                  Schuster: For most customers, they should start with server virtualization. There is potential for them to get a tremendous amount of efficiency and consolidation of their applications through server consolidation.  They can virtualize upwards of 80 percent of all of the apps that they are running in their environment onto virtualized server environments, particularly in the midmarket. They may even be able to consolidate down to one to four servers and really take care of all of their workloads. Using Hyper-V as that virtualization framework and then using System Center Virtual Machine Manager to deploy that new virtual machine into their environment should be their first step to this approach.
                  MES: What are some of the new capabilities of Windows Server 2012 that go beyond virtualization to solve some common challenges?
                  Schuster: Windows Server 2012 not only helps midmarket organizations virtualize the compute—the virtualized machine itself—but it also helps them to virtualize their network and storage layers, which can be very costly capex investments for customers. It eliminates a lot of the common conflicts involved in managing an on-premise environment like IP and networking address conflicts. It also gives them additional storage so they don’t have to buy expensive SANs.
                  MES: A key trend challenging CIOs is mobility and the consumerization of IT. How does the Microsoft Cloud OS vision help address the security and management challenges around new devices and the need for increased mobility?
                  Schuster: I think it goes back to what I said before—we’ve enabled the ‘and’ so they can think about their governance role. There are a number of ways to address the consumerization of IT, and our primary message is that we think customers should embrace it. We enable them through Active Directory, which enables them to have a single sign-on experience and manage the identity of the user regardless of the environment the user is in (Office 365, Windows Azure, their on-premises environment, etc.)—This eliminates multiple pop-ups where the user has to continually sign in to the service.
                  We also have native functionality in Windows Server 2012 that eliminates the need for a VPN. With Direct Access, they can now easily deliver access to corporate resources based on the user’s identity.
                  Lastly, they can set policies for the user experience based on the device that they are using—phone, home machine, work machine, etc.—and can manage those mobile devices from the cloud with Windows Intune, without having to do additional on-premises setup.
                  MES: You briefly talked about Windows Azure as part of the Microsoft Cloud OS. What workloads do you recommend customers think about moving to the public cloud first?
                  Schuster: I think the easiest thing for most customers to think about moving to the public cloud first is cloud storage—they can use it for backup, archiving and disaster recovery. Especially as a midmarket customer, the last thing they probably have is a separate site with another set of servers that are replicated and ready to do a transfer if something disastrous were to occur. That’s absolutely something that the cloud is available and ready for. And customers only have to pay for what they use— it’s consumption based. The other areas that they would probably want to use it for are application development and test environments and for business and data analytics.
                  MES: Microsoft has laid out a hybrid cloud strategy, with the same basic underpinnings for both private and public cloud. What’s the benefit to mid-market customers of adopting Microsoft’s hybrid approach and technologies?
                  Schuster: When we talk about a hybrid environment, there are two ways to think about it: One is that it’s a hybrid enterprise, meaning they have some workloads that are sitting on servers inside their organization while others are using some server capacity within a public cloud like Windows Azure; Second is having hybrid applications. One of the advantages of the cloud today is that it enables even the smallest companies to act and look like very large companies. Unlike in the past with on-premise servers, the cloud gives CIOs the capacity and capability to introduce a new service to the market where they don’t have to have a great forecast of what the demand might be. This has really opened up new doors for midmarket IT organizations.
                  MES: How can your ecosystem of partners help midmarket customers today?
                  Schuster: The midmarket IT customer will typically only have a handful of IT pros within their organization, so enabling them to focus on the business and building applications to help power the business vs. managing servers and infrastructure is a real business value to our midmarket customers—and our partner ecosystem is well set up to help them do that.
                  We have done a lot of work to train our partners on how to deliver both our on-premise Windows Server 2012 virtualization environment as well as our Windows Azure cloud environments, and we have services available that help our customers build new applications.

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