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A year of healthy progress along Microsoft strategic ambitions

Microsoft Stock Price for the last 5 years — July 22, 2016:Microsoft Stock Price for the last 5 years -- 22 July, 2016 My earlier posts related specifically to this 3 years overall transition history:
– 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 as of July 10, 2013
– Microsoft reorg for delivering/supporting high-value experiences/activities as of July 11, 2013
– An ARM-focussed Microsoft spin-off could be the only solution to save Microsoft in the crucial next 3-years period as of August 24, 2013
– Opinion Leaders and Lead Opinions: Reflections on Steven Sinofsky’s “Era of Continuous Productivity” vision as of September 1, 2013
– The question mark over Wintel’s future will hang in the air for two more years as of September 15, 2013
– Microsoft could be acquired in years to come by Amazon? The joke of the day, or a certain possibility (among other ones)? as of September 16, 2013
– Sinofsky’s ‘continuous productivity’ idea to be realised first in Box Notes as of September 21, 2013
MS FY15 NEW STRATEGIC SETUPMicrosoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers as of April 25, 2014
– Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft as of July 23, 2014
– Steve Ballmer on leaving Microsoft, relationship with Bill Gates: “We’ve dusted-up many times”, on His Biggest Regret: “doing hardware earlier [for being] more effective in phone business” AND on Amazon: “They Make No Money.” as October 25, 2014
– The Empire Reboots — Can C.E.O. Satya Nadella Save Microsoft? | Vanity Fair, Oct 27, 2014

WPC Day 1: The Digital Transformation Opportunity from Microsoft Partner Network UK Blog as of July 11, 2016:

“Empower every person and every
organisation on the planet to achieve more”
The Microsoft Mission

At the core of today’s opening Worldwide Partner Conference keynote was ‘Digital Transformation’ aka the desire of CEO’s to use technology to change business outcomes – whether it be how they:

  • Engage their customers,
  • Empower employees to make better decisions,
  • Optimise their operations,
  • Build up the predictive power within their organisations so that every operation is intelligent,
  • Transform their products and services.

Digital Transformation = An Unprecedented Partner Opportunity

Every customer of every size business (startup to Enterprise) is not only looking to use digital technology, but to build digital technology for their own.

Digital-transformatoin-all-partner-types1-1024x530[1]

Businesses are looking to drive greater efficiency – automating processes and enhancing productivity, particularly in those areas where there are operating expenses. This poses an unprecedented opportunity for you no matter what partner type you are.

Digital Transformation Opportunity by Microsoft and Partners -- July 11, 2016Microsoft Ambitions to Drive Digital Transformation

Microsoft has three core ambitions which play a fundamental part in digitally transforming businesses:

  • Re-inventing Productivity and Business process
  • Building the Intelligent Cloud
  • Create more Personal Computing

These will be covered in more detail over the next two days keynotes, however, Satya provided some great examples of what these 3 ambitions entail.

1) Re-inventing Productivity and Business Process

This is all about removing the barriers between productivity tools and business applications. Satya focused on two key areas:

  • ‘Conversations as a Platform’: Using human language understanding personal assistants and Bots (conversational interfaces) which augment our connection with technologies. (Watch the demo 48 minutes into Day 1 Keynote)

2) Building out the intelligent Cloud

To showcase how intelligent cloud is helping transformation, Satya invited General Electric CEO, Jeff Immelt, on stage to discuss how he has digitally transformed the GE business.

Considering GE is over 140 years old, it’s a company that has embraced transformation and digital transformation. You can read more about their story and find out about Microsoft’s new partnership with GE to bring Predix to Azure, accelerating digital transformation for industrial customers.

Satya then went on to talk about ‘The next phase of building the Intelligent cloud’ with ‘Cognitive services’.  We’re seeing the beginnings of a new platform for cognitive services. Microsoft has taken decades of research from Microsoft Research encapsulating speech, computer vision, natural language text understanding, and made these available as API’s. These API’s are being used to infuse perception into apps – the ability for Apps/Bots to understand speech and see i.e. computer vision. These cognitive capabilities are capable of transforming business by bringing productivity gains. A great example of this is how Macdonalds are creating efficiency in their Drive Thru’s with speech/order recognition (Watch the demo 1 hour 10 minutes into the Day 1 keynote).

3) Create More Personal Computing

Create more personal computing was the third and final ambition covered. Satya discussed Windows 10 – an OS system spanning multiple devices from Raspberry PI to Hololens and bringing centralised infrastructure benefits and cost savings to business.

It was on the topic of Hololens, he discussed how personal computing is shaped by category creation moments. Moments where input and output change. ‘Mixed Reality’ is that moment. With Hololens its created an interface changing moment – Mixing real with virtual, enabling us to be anywhere and everywhere – fully untethered and mobile.

What followed was a great demo showcasing how Japan Airlines are using Microsoft HoloLens to change how they train flight crews and mechanics (Watch the demo 1 hour 17 minutes into the Day 1 keynote)

Mixed reality offers huge opportunities for partners with so many applications across so many sectors.

Expect more details on Digital Transformation and Microsoft’s three ambitions in WPC Day 2 and 3 keynotes.

News From WPC2016 Day 1

The three ambitions announced a year ago and the proof-points of healthy progress along them in FY16:

  1. Office 365, Dynamics 365, AppSource, and LinkedIn as all being part of one overarching strategy in Productivity and Business Process:
    – core part of an overarching strategy
    – digital transformation both for us and our partnerships with customers
  2. Significant differentiation vs. Amazon AWS in Intelligent Cloud:
    – enterprise cloud leadership
    – every customer is also an ISV
    – hyperscale-plus-hybrid approach with annuity focus enabling cloud lead conversation with customers
    – meeting cloud needs of customers where they are
  3. Windows strategy to achieve progress in More Personal Computing:
    – deliver more value and innovation, particularly for enterprise customers
    – grow new monetization through services across our unified Windows platform
    – innovate in new device categories in partnership with our OEMs

The Q1FY16 progress was presented in my Microsoft is ready to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings, a Windows ecosystem under complete renewal, first signs of Surface-Lumia-Xbox successes on the market, and strong interest in technology partnerships by other industry leaders as of October 24, 2015.

Reinvent Productivity and Business Processes“, “Build the Intelligent Cloud” and “Create More Personal Computing” were the original 3 “interlocking ambitions” the Microsoft CEO talked about at Microsoft Iginite held on May 4-8, 2015 in Chicago. The proof-points of FY16 progress are shown along that list, and explained in detail by remarks from Microsoft (MSFT) Satya Nadella on Q4 2016 Results – Earnings Call Transcript as of July 18, 2016.

For more information see also:  Q4 2015 Earning Call Transcript, the 2015 Annual Report or—even better—my earlier posts indicated here under each ambition. For a deeper strategic intent underlying these ambilitions see my earlier post Julia Liuson: “Microsoft must transform from a company that throws a box with software into the market … into a company that offers pure services” published on These ambitions also became reporting segments in FY16. See Earnings Release FY16 Q1 as of October 22, 2015. The major corporate groups were also organised along these line: ASG = Application & Services Group for “Reinvent productivity and business processes” ambition, C&E = Cloud & Enterprise for “Build the intelligent cloud platform” ambition, and OSG= Operating Systems Group for “Create more personal computing” ambition.

Note that the overall strategic approach was developed 2 years ago and it was described in my post Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft of July 23, 2014:

image.png

Here are the remarks from Microsoft (MSFT) Satya Nadella on Q4 2016 Results – Earnings Call Transcript as of July 18, 2016. for details

1. Office 365, Dynamics 365, AppSource, and LinkedIn as all being part of one overarching strategy in Productivity and Business Process:

For initial and additional details available earlier see my earlier posts:
– The first “post-Ballmer” offering launched: with Power BI for Office 365 everyone can analyze, visualize and share data in the cloud as of February 10, 2014
– OneNote is available now on every platform (+free!!) and supported by cloud services API for application and device builders as of March 18, 2014
– An upcoming new era: personalised, pro-active search and discovery experiences for Office 365 (Oslo) as of April 2, 2014
– Microsoft Azure: Marketable machine learning components capability for “a new data science economy”, and real-time analytics for Azure HDInsight service as of October 22, 2014

In fact, this last quarter, some of the most strategic announcements were all around our application platform. At our partner conference, there was a significant amount of excitement with the tools that we announced like PowerApps and Power BI, Azure functions and Flow. These are tools that our developers and system integrators and solution partners will use in order to be able to customize applications around Azure. And so to me that’s another huge advantage and a competitive differentiation for us.

1.1 Core part of an overarching strategy

The move to the cloud for our customers and for us is not just about a new way of delivering the same value just as a SaaS service. It’s really the transformation from having applications that are silos to becoming more services in the cloud where you can reason about the activity and the data underneath these services to benefit the customers who are using these services. So that’s what this notion of a graph [by Microsoft Graph] represents.

So when somebody moves to Office 365, their graph [by Microsoft Graph], their people, their relationships with other people inside the organization, their work artifacts all move to the cloud. You can connect them with all the business process data that’s in Dynamics 365, but not just in Dynamics 365 but all the applications in AppSource because business process will always be a much more fragmented market as opposed to just one market share leader by industry, by vertical, by country. And so that’s our strategy there.

And now the professional cloud or the professional network helps usage across all of that professional usage. Whether it’s in Office 365 or whether you’re a salesperson using any application related to sales, you want your professional network there. Of course, it’s relevant in recruiting, it’s relevant in training, it’s relevant in marketing. So that’s really our strategy with LinkedIn as the professional network meeting the professional cloud. And these are all part of one overarching strategy, and ultimately it’s about adding value to customers.

1.2 Digital transformation both for us and our partnerships with customers

This past year was a pivotal one in both our transformation and in our partnerships with customers who are also driving their own digital transformation. Our progress is best captured in the results of our three ambitions, starting with Productivity and Business Process. In a world of infinite information but finite attention and time, we aim to change the nature of work with digital technology. In pursuit of this ambition, we continue to add value to our products, grow usage, and increase our addressable market. Along these lines, let me start with Office 365 and then move to Dynamics 365.

In the last quarter, we advanced our collaboration tools. We launched Microsoft Planner, which helps teams manage operations, as well as Skype Meetings, which is aimed at helping small businesses collaborate. In June, we further strengthened our security value proposition with the release of Advanced Security Management.

Lastly, we continue to add intelligence in machine learning to Office to help people automate their tasks and glean insights from data. These advancements helped to drive increased usage across enterprises, small and medium businesses, and consumers. In the enterprise, Office 365 Commercial seats grew 45% year over year, and revenue grew 59% in constant currency. Also 70% of our Office Enterprise agreement renewals are in the cloud. Innovative companies like Facebook, Hershey’s, Discovery Communications, Cushman Wakefield all adopted Office 365 and now see how transformative this service can be for their own business.

We are enthusiastic about the early feedback and growth opportunity from companies using our newly released Office 365 E5, which includes powerful security controls, advanced analytics, and cloud voice. These customers tell us that they love the simplification that comes with standardizing across all of our productivity workloads.

We will continue to grow our install base and drive premium mix through offers like Office 365 E5, but they’re very, very early days of E5. And E5 value proposition across all three of the areas, whether it’s cloud voice or analytics or security are all three massive areas for us. And I would say if anything, the initial data from our customers around security is gaining a lot of traction. But at the same time, one of the things that customers are looking for is making an enterprise-wide architectural decision across all of the workloads.

We see momentum in small and medium businesses, with a growing number of partners selling Office 365, now up to nearly 90,000, a 25% increase year over year. We continue to grab share and adding over 50,000 customers each month for 28 consecutive months.

We also see momentum amongst consumers, with now more than 23 million Office 365 subscribers. Across segments, customers increasingly experience the power of Office on their iOS and Android mobile devices. In fact, we now have more than 50 million iOS and Android monthly active devices, up more than four times over last year.

Now let’s talk about progress with the other pillar of this ambition, Dynamics 365. We are removing any impedance that exists between productivity, collaboration, and business process. This month we took a major step forward with the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource. Dynamics 365 provides business users with purpose-built SaaS applications. These applications have intelligence built in. They integrate deeply with communications and collaboration capabilities of Office 365.

Dynamics 365 along with AppSource and our rich application platform introduces a disruptive and customer-centric business model so customers can build what they want and use just the capabilities they need. The launch of Dynamics 365 builds on the momentum we’re already seeing in this business. Customers around the globe are harnessing the power of Dynamics in their own transformation, including 24 Hour Fitness and AccuWeather. Overall, Dynamics now has nearly 10 million monthly paid seats, up more than 20% year over year, and Q4 billings grew more than 20% year over year.

Overall, Business Processes represent an enormous addressable market, projected to be more than $100 billion by 2020. It’s a market we are increasingly focused on, and I believe we are poised with both Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource to grow and drive opportunity for our partners.

Across Office 365 and Dynamics 365, developers increasingly see the opportunity to build innovative apps and experiences with the Microsoft Graph, and we now have over 27,000 apps connected to it. Microsoft AppSource will be a new way for developers to offer their services and reach customers worldwide.

Lastly, with Office 365 and Dynamics 365, we have the opportunity to connect the world’s professional cloud and the world’s professional network with our pending LinkedIn deal. Overall, the Microsoft Cloud is winning significant customer support. With more than $12 billion in Commercial Cloud annualized revenue run rate, we are on track to achieve our goal of $20 billion in fiscal year 2018. Also, nearly 60% of the Fortune 500 companies have at least three of our cloud offerings. And we continue to grow our annuity mix of our business. In fact, commercial annuity mix increased year over year to 83%.

2. Significant differentiation vs. Amazon AWS in Intelligent Cloud 

For initial and additional details available earlier see my earlier posts:
– Windows Azure becoming an unbeatable offering on the cloud computing market as of June 28, 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 as of July 10, 2013

– 4. Microsoft products for the Cloud OS [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, as of Dec 18, 2013, but published only on Feb 14, 2014] (was separated from the next “half bakedness” post because of its length)
– 4.5. Microsoft talking about Cloud OS and private clouds: starting with Ray Ozzie in November, 2009[‘Experiencing the Cloud’, as of Dec 18, 2013, but published only on Feb 14, 2014] (was separated from the next “half bakedness” post because of its length)
Microsoft’s half-baked cloud computing strategy (H1’FY14) as of February 17, 2014 Note that this “half bakedness” ended by the facts published in Microsoft is ready to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings, a Windows ecosystem under complete renewal, first signs of Surface-Lumia-Xbox successes on the market, and strong interest in technology partnerships by other industry leaders as of October 24, 2014
– Microsoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers as of April 25, 2014
– Microsoft BUILD 2014 Day 2: “rebranding” to Microsoft Azure and moving toward a comprehensive set of fully-integrated backend services as of April 27, 2014
– Scott Guthrie about changes under Nadella, the competition with Amazon, and what differentiates Microsoft’s cloud products as of October 2, 2014
– Sam Guckenheimer on Microsoft Developer Division’s Journey to Cloud Cadence as of October 19, 2014
– Microsoft Azure: Marketable machine learning components capability for “a new data science economy”, and real-time analytics for Azure HDInsight service as of October 22, 2014
Microsoft Cloud state-of-the-art: Hyper-scale Azure with host SDN — IaaS 2.0 — Hybrid flexibility and freedom as of July 11, 2015
– Microsoft’s first quarter proving its ability to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings as of Januar 27, 2015
– DataStax: a fully distributed and highly secure transactional database platform that is “always on” as of February 3, 2016
– Microsoft chairman: The transition to a subscription-based cloud business isn’t fast enough. Revamp the sales force for cloud-based selling as of June 6, 2016

Cloud Growth Helps Microsoft Beat Street in Q4 from TheStreet as of July 19, 2016 

… [0:34] and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility [Suite]
customers nearly doubled YoY to 33,000. [0:40] …

Note that the Q1FY16 report was that “Enterprise Mobility [Suite] customers more than doubled year-over-year to over 20,000, and the installed base grew nearly 6x year-over-year“. Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is a service available in the CSP (Cloud Solution Partner program) along with Windows Intune, Office 365, Azure and CRM Online. The reason for that very impressive growth was given by Satya Nadella in the much earlier Q2FY15 report as:

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite is one key of product innovation that I would like to highlight given the growth and uniqueness of our offering. Microsoft offers a comprehensive solution that brings together mobile device management, mobile application management, hybrid identity management and data protection into a unified offering via EMS.

Office 365 now includes new app experiences on all phones and tablets for mobile productivity.  Further, we have released completely new scenarios. This includes Office Sway for visualizing and sharing ideas; Delve, to help search and discover content; Office 365 Groups to make it easier to collaborate; andOffice 365 Video for secure media streaming for businesses.

Finally, we continue to invest in enterprise value by integrating MDM and the Enterprise Mobility Suite into Office 365; new encryption technologies and compliance certifications; and new eDiscovery capabilities in Exchange.

Overall at the highest level, our strategy here is to make sure that the Microsoft Services i.e. cloud services be it Azure, Office 365, CRM Online or Enterprise Mobility Suite are covering all the devices out there in the marketplace. So that, that way we maximize the opportunity we have for each of these subscription and capacity based services.

2.1 Enterprise cloud leadership

Now let’s get into the specifics of the Intelligent Cloud, an area of massive opportunity, as we are clearly one of the two enterprise cloud leaders. Companies looking to digitally transform need a trusted cloud partner and turn to Microsoft. As a result, Azure revenue and usage again grew by more than 100% this quarter. We see customers choose Microsoft for three reasons. They want a cloud provider that offers solutions that reflect the realities of today’s world and their enterprise-grade needs. They want higher level services to drive digital transformation, and they want a cloud open to developers of all types. Let me expand on each.

To start, a wide variety of customers turn to Azure because of their specific real-world needs. Multinationals choose us because we are the only hybrid and hyperscale cloud spanning multiple jurisdictions. We cover more countries and regions than any other cloud provider, from North America to Asia to Europe to Latin America. Our cloud respects data sovereignty and makes it possible for an enterprise application to work across these regions and jurisdictions. More than 80% of the world’s largest banks are Azure customers because of our leadership support for regulatory requirements, advanced security, and commitment to privacy. Large ISVs like SAP and Citrix as well as startups like Sprinklr also choose Azure because of our global reach and a broad set of platform services. Last week GE announced it will adopt our cloud for its IoT approach.

Next, Azure customers also value our unique higher-level services. Now at 33,000, we nearly doubled in one year the number of companies worldwide that have selected our Enterprise Mobility Solutions. The Dow Chemical Company leverages EMS along with Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics to give its thousands of employees secure real-time access to data and apps from anywhere.

Just yesterday, we announced Boeing will use Azure, our IoT suite, and Cortana Intelligence to drive digital transformation in commercial aviation, with connected airline systems optimization, predictive maintenance, and much more. This builds on great momentum in IoT, including our work with Rolls-Royce, Schneider Electric, and others.

This is great progress, but our ambitions are set even higher. Our Intelligent Cloud also enables cognitive services. Cortana Intelligence Suite offers machine learning capabilities and advanced predictive analytics. Customers like Jabil Circuit, Fruit of the Loom, Land O’Lakes, LIBER already realize the benefits of these new capabilities.

Lastly, central to our Intelligent Cloud ambition is providing developers with the tools and capabilities they need to build apps and services for the platforms and devices of their choice. We have the best support for what I would say is the most open platform for all developers. Not only is .NET first class but Linux is first class, Java is first class. The new Azure Container service cuts across both containers running on Windows, running across Linux. So again, it speaks to the enterprise reality. .NET Core 1.0 for open source and our ongoing work with companies such as Red Hat, Docker, and Mesosphere also reflects significant progress on this front. We continue to see traction from open source, with nearly a third of customer virtual machines on Azure running Linux.

So those would be the places where we are fairly differentiated, and that’s what you see us gaining both for enterprise customers and ISVs.

On the server side, premium server revenue grew double digits in constant currency year over year. New SQL Server 2016 helps us expand into new markets with built-in advanced analytics and unparalleled performance. More than 15,000 customers, including over 50% of the Fortune 500, have registered for the private preview of SQL Server for Linux. And we’re not slowing down. We will launch Windows Server 2016 and System Server 2016 later this year.

2.2 Every customer is also an ISV

One of the phenomena now is that pretty much anyone who is a customer of Azure is also in some form an ISV, and that’s no longer just limited to people who are “in the classic tech industry” or the software business. So every customer who starts off consuming Azure is also turning what is their IP in most cases into an ISV solution, which ultimately will even participate in AppSource. So at least the vision that we have is that every customer is a digital company that will have a digital IP component to it, and that we want to be able to partner with them in pretty unique ways.

That’s the same case with GE. It’s the same case with Boeing. It’s the same case with Schneider Electric or ABB or any one of the customers we are working with because they all are taking some of their assets and converting them into SaaS applications on Azure. And that’s something that we will in fact have distribution agreements with.

And AppSource is a pretty major announcement for us because we essentially created for SaaS applications and infrastructure applications a way to distribute their applications through us and our channel. And I think it makes in fact our cloud more attractive to many of them because of that. So we look – I think going forward, you’ll look to see – or you’ll see us do much more of this with many other customers of ours.

2.3 Hyperscale-plus-hybrid approach with annuity focus enabling cloud lead conversation with customers

The focus for us is in what I describe as this hyperscale-plus-hybrid approach when you think about the current approach, which is pretty unique to us. Overall, I believe this hyperscale plus hybrid architecturally helps us a lot with enterprise customers because we meet them where their realities are today and also the digital transformation needs going forward, so that’s one massive advantage we have.

And the way we track progress is to see how is our annuity growth of our server business, and how is our cloud growth. And if you look at this last quarter, our annuity grew double digits and our cloud grew triple digits. And that’s a pretty healthy growth rate, and that’s something that by design both in terms of the technical architecture as well as the traction we have in the marketplace and our sales efforts and so on are playing out well, and we are very bullish about that going forward.

The Transactional business is much more volatile because of the macro environment, IT budgets, and also the secular shift to the cloud. The question again that gets asked is about the cannibalization. But if you look at Boeing or you look at any of the other examples that I talk about when it comes to the cloud, our servers never did what these customers are now doing in our cloud. So at a fundamental long-term secular basis, we have new growth, new workloads, and that’s what we are focused on, and that’s a much bigger addressable market than anything our Transactional Server business had in the past.

[Amy E. Hood – Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President:]
The first thing really that I think Satya and I both focus on every quarter, every month, is how much of our business are we continuing to shift to annuity and specifically to the cloud. We structure all of our motions at this company, from how we engineer to how we do our go-to-markets to how we think about sales engagement to how we do our investments, fundamentally toward that long-term structural transition in the market.

In terms of server products and services, I tend to think of it as the all-up growth. It’s really about growing the cloud, growing the hybrid, and then whatever happens in the Transactional business happens.

And so to your question on Transactional performance, there were some deals that didn’t get done in Q3 that got done in Q4, and there were some deals done in Q4 on the Office side with large companies that I’m thrilled by. But at the same time, we still will focus on those deals moving to the cloud over time. And so this volatility that we are going to see because of macro and because of budget constraints, especially on Transactional, we will focus on because we expect excellent execution and have accountability to do that in the field. But our first priority, every time, is to make sure we are focused on annuity growth and digital transformation at our company, which is best done through that motion.

In terms of the sales motion they are absolutely incented more towards cloud versus Transactional going into this year.

I do believe that every conversation that we’re having with customers is cloud-led. That cloud-led conversation and making a plan for customers to best change and transform their own business certainly is a far more in-depth one than on occasion is required by long-time Transactional purchasers, especially in Office, as an example, because what we’re talking about now is really pivoting your business for the long term.

And so I’m sure there are examples where that has elongated the sales cycle, for good reason. But I would generally point back and say most of these are driven at the structural level, which is – structurally over time, on-premises Transactional business will move to the cloud or to a hybrid structure through an annuity revenue stream.
[END BY Amy E. Hood]

2.4 Meeting cloud needs of customers where they are

The position that we have taken is that we want to serve customers where they are and not assume very simplistically that the digital sovereignty needs of customers can be met out of a fewer data center approach. Because right now, given the secular trend to move to the cloud across all of the regulated industries across the globe, we think it’s wiser for us and our investors long term to be able to meet them where they are. And that’s what you see us. We are the only cloud that operates in China under Chinese law, the only cloud that operates in Germany under German law. And these are very critical competitive advantages to us.

And so we will track that, and we will be very demand driven. So in this case we’re not taking these positions of which regions to open and where to open them well in advance of our demand. If anything, I think our cycle times have significantly come down. So it will be demand-driven, but I don’t want to essentially put a cap because if the opportunity arises, and for us it’s a high ROI decision to open a new region, we will do so.

3. Windows strategy to achieve progress in More Personal Computing

For initial and additional details available earlier see my earlier posts:
– Windows Embedded is an enterprise business now, like the whole Windows business, with Handheld and Compact versions to lead in the overall Internet of Things market as well as of June 8, 2013
– How the device play will unfold in the new Microsoft organization? as of July 14, 2013
– With Android and forked Android smartphones as the industry standard Nokia relegated to a niche market status while Apple should radically alter its previous premium strategy for long term as of August 17, 2013
– Windows [inc. Phone] 8.x chances of becoming the alternative platform to iOS and Android: VERY SLIM as it is even more difficult for Microsoft now than any time before as of August 20, 2013
– Leading PC vendors of the past: Go enterprise or die! as of November 7, 2013
– Xamarin: C# developers of native “business” and “mobile workforce” applications now can easily work cross-platform, for Android and iOS clients as well as of November 15, 2013
Microsoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers as of April 25, 2014
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is the ultimate tablet product from Microsoft. What the market response will be? as of May 21, 2014
Windows 10 Technical Preview: Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore on the future of Windows as of October 1, 2014
– The Era Of Sub-$90 Windows 8.1 Phones in U.S. as of October 3, 2014
– Windows 10 is here to help regain Microsoft’s leading position in ICT as of July 31, 2015
– Microsoft and partners to capitalize on Continuum for Phones instead of the exited Microsoft phone business as of June 5, 2016

We have increased Windows 10 monthly active devices and are now at more than 350 million. This is the fastest adoption rate of any prior Windows release. While we are proud of these results, given changes to our phone plan, we changed how we will assess progress. Going forward, we will track progress by regularly reporting the growth of Windows 10 monthly active devices in addition to progress on three aspects of our Windows strategy:

3.1 Deliver more value and innovation, particularly for enterprise customers

We continue to pursue our goal of moving people from needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows. In two weeks, we will launch Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which takes a significant step forward in security. We are also extending Windows Hello to support apps and websites and delivering a range of new features like Windows Ink and updates to Microsoft Edge. We expect these advances will drive increased adoption of Windows 10, particularly in the enterprise, in the coming year. We already have strong traction, with over 96% of our enterprise customers piloting Windows 10.

3.2 Grow new monetization through services across our unified Windows platform

As we grow our install base and engagement, we generate more opportunity for Microsoft and our ecosystem. Bing profitability continues to grow, with greater than 40% of the search revenue in June from Windows 10 devices. Bing PC query share in the United States approached 22% this quarter, not including volume from AOL and Yahoo!. The Cortana search box has over 100 million monthly active users, with 8 billion questions asked to date.

We continue to drive growth in gaming by connecting fans on Xbox Live across Windows 10, iOS, and Android. Just this quarter we launched our Minecraft Realm subscription on Android and iOS. Overall engagement on Xbox Live is at record levels, with more than 49 million monthly active users, up 33% year over year. At E3 we announced our biggest lineup of exclusive games ever for Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. And we announced Xbox Play Anywhere titles, where gamers can buy a game once and play it on both their Windows 10 PC and Xbox One. We also announced two new members of the Xbox One console family, the Xbox One S and Project Scorpio.

The Windows Store continues to grow, with new universal Windows apps like Bank of America, Roku, SiriusXM, Instagram, Facebook, Wine, Hulu, and popular PC games like Quantum Break.

3.3 Innovate in new device categories in partnership with our OEMs

Our hardware partners are embracing the new personal computing vision, with over 1,500 new devices designed to take advantage of Windows 10 innovations like Touch, Pen, Hello, and better performance and power efficiency.

Microsoft’s family of Surface devices continues to drive category growth, and we are reaching more commercial customers of all sizes with the support of our channel partners. We recently announced new Surface enterprise initiatives with IBM and Booz Allen Hamilton to enable more customer segments. Also in the past year, we grew our commercial Surface partner channel from over 150 to over 10,000.

Lastly this quarter, more and more developers and enterprise customers got to experience two entirely new device categories from Microsoft Surface Hub and Microsoft HoloLens. While we are still in the early days of both of these devices, we are seeing great traction with both enterprise customers and developers, making us optimistic about future growth.

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OpenStack adoption (by Q1 2016)

OpenStack Promise as per Moogsoft -- June 3, 2015For information on OpenStack provided earlier on this blog see:
– Disaggregation in the next-generation datacenter and HP’s Moonshot approach for the upcoming HP CloudSystem “private cloud in-a-box” with the promised HP Cloud OS based on the 4 years old OpenStack effort with others, ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Dec 10, 2013
– Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 4 delivery and Dell as the first company to OEM it co-engineered on Dell infrastructure with Red Hat, ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 19, 2014
To understand the OpenStack V4 level state-of-technology-development as of June 25, 2015:
– go to my homepage: https://lazure2.wordpress.com/
– or to the OpenStack related part of Microsoft Cloud state-of-the-art: Hyper-scale Azure with host SDN — IaaS 2.0 — Hybrid flexibility and freedom, ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 11, 2015

May 19, 2016:

Oh, the places you’ll go with OpenStack! by Mark Collier, OpenStack Foundation COO on ‘OpenStack Superuser’:

With OpenStack in tow you’ll go far — be it your house, your bank, your city or your car.

Just look at all of the exciting places we’re going:

From the phone in your pocket

The telecom industry is undergoing a massive shift, away from hundreds of proprietary devices in thousands of central offices accumulated over decades, to a much more efficient and flexible software plus commodity hardware approach. While some carriers like AT&T have already begun routing traffic from the 4G networks over OpenStack powered clouds to millions of cellphone users, the major wave of adoption is coming with the move to 5G, including plans from AT&T, Telefonica, SK Telekom, and Verizon.

We are on the cusp of a revolution that will completely re-imagine what it means to provide services in the trillion dollar telecom industry, with billions of connected devices riding on OpenStack-powered infrastructure in just a few years.

To the living room socket

The titans of TV like Comcast, DirecTV, and Time Warner Cable all rely on OpenStack to bring the latest entertainment to our homes efficiently, and innovators like DigitalFilm Tree are producing that content faster than ever thanks to cloud-based production workflows.

Your car, too, will get smart

Speaking of going places, back here on earth many of the world’s top automakers, such as BMW and the Volkswagen group, which includes Audi, Lamborghini, and even Bentley, are designing the future of transportation using OpenStack and big data. The hottest trends to watch in the auto world are electric zero emissions cars and self-driving cars. Like the “smart city” mentioned above, a proliferation of sensors plus connectivity call for distributed systems to bring it all together, creating a huge opportunity for OpenStack.

And your bank will take part

Money moves faster than ever, with digital payments from startups and established players alike competing for consumer attention. Against this backdrop of enormous market change, banks must meet an increasingly rigid set of regulatory rules, not to mention growing security threats. To empower their developers to innovate while staying diligent on regs and security, financial leaders like PayPal, FICO, TD Bank, American Express, and Visa are adopting OpenStack.

Your city must keep the pace

Powering the world’s cities is a complex task and here OpenStack is again driving automation, this time in the energy sector. State Grid Corporation, the world’s largest electric utility, serves over 120 million customers in China while relying on OpenStack in production.

Looking to the future, cities will be transformed by the proliferation of fast networks combined with cheap sensors. Unlocking the power of this mix are distributed systems, including OpenStack, to process, store, and move data. Case in point: tcpcloud in Prague is helping introduce “smart city” technology by utilizing inexpensive Raspberry Pis embedded in street poles, backed by a distributed system based on Kubernetes and OpenStack. These systems give city planners insight into traffic flows of both pedestrians and cars, and even measure weather quality. By routing not just packets but people, cities are literally load balancing their way to lower congestion and pollution.

From inner to outer space

The greatest medical breakthroughs of the next decade will come from analyzing massive data sets, thanks to the proliferation of distributed systems that put supercomputer power into the hands of every scientist. And OpenStack has a huge role to play empowering researchers all over the globe: from Melbourne to Madrid, Chicago to Chennai, or Berkeley to Beijing, everywhere you look you’ll find OpenStack.

To explore this world, I recently visited the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin where I toured a facility that houses one of the top 10 supercomputers in the world, code named “Stampede

But what really got me excited about the future was the sight of two large OpenStack clusters: one called Chameleon, and the newest addition, Jetstream, which put the power of more than 1,000 nodes and more than 15,000 cores into the hands of scientists at 350 universities. In fact, the Chameleon cloud was recently used in a class at the University of Arizona by students looking to discover exoplanets. Perhaps the next Neil deGrasse Tyson is out there using OpenStack to find a planet to explore for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories.

Where should we go next?

Mark Collier is OpenStack co-founder, and currently the OpenStack Foundation COO. This article was first published in Superuser Magazine, distributed at the Austin Summit.

May 9, 2016:

From OpenStack Summit Austin, Part 1: Vendors digging in for long haul by Al Sadowski, 451 Research, LLC:  This report provides highlights from the most recent OpenStack Summit

THE 451 TAKE OpenStack mindshare continues to grow for enterprises interested in deploying cloud-native applications in greenfield private cloud environments. However, its appeal is limited for legacy applications and enterprises sold on hyperscale multi-tenant cloud providers like AWS and Azure. There are several marquee enterprises with OpenStack as the central component of cloud transformations, but many are still leery of the perceived complexity of configuring, deploying and maintaining OpenStack-based architectures. Over the last few releases, processes for installation and upgrades, tooling, and API standardization across projects have improved as operators have become more vocal during the requirements phase. Community membership continues to grow on a global basis, and the supporting organization also depicts a similar geographic trend.

…  Horizontal scaling of Nova is much improved, based on input from CERN and Rackspace. CERN, an early OpenStack adopter, demonstrated the ability for the open source platform to scale – it now has 165,000 cores running OpenStack. However, Walmart, PayPal and eBay are operating larger OpenStack environments.

May 18, 2015:

Walmart‘s Cloud Journey by Amandeep Singh Juneja
Sr. Director, Cloud Engineering and Operations, WalmartLabs: Introduction to World’s largest retailer and its journey to build a large private Cloud.

Amandeep Singh Juneja is Senior Director for Cloud Operations and Engineering at WalmartLabs. In his current role, Amandeep is responsible for the build out of elastic cloud used by various Walmart Ecommerce properties. Prior to his current role at Walmart Labs, Amandeep has held various leadership roles at HP, WebOS (Palm) and eBay.

May 19, 2015:

OpenStack Update from eBay and PayPal by Subbu Allamaraju
Chief Engineer, Cloud, eBay Inc: Journey and future of OpenStack eBay and PayPal

Subbu is the Chief Engineer of cloud at eBay Inc. His team builds and operates a multi-tenant geographically distributed OpenStack based private cloud. This cloud now serves 100% of PayPal web and mid tier workloads, significant parts of eBay front end and services, and thousands of users for their dev/test activities.

May 18, 2015:

Architecting Organizational Change at TD Bank by Graeme Peacock, VP Engineering, TD Bank Group

Graeme cut his teeth in the financial services consulting industry by designing and developing real-time Trading, Risk and Clearing applications. He then joined NatWest Markets and J.P. Morgan in executive level roles within the Equity Derivatives business lines.
Graeme then moved to a Silicon Valley Startup to expand his skillset as V.P. of Engineering at Application Networks. His responsibility extended to Strategy, Innovation, Product Development, Release Management and Support to some of the biggest names in the Financial Services Sector.
For the last 10 years, he has held Divisional CIO roles at Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, both of which saw him responsible for Credit, Securitized and Emerging Market businesses.
Graeme moved back to a V.P. of Engineering role at TD Bank Group several years ago. He currently oversees all Infrastructure Innovation — everything form Mobile and Desktop to Database, Middleware and Cloud.  His focus is on the transformational: software development techniques, infrastructure design patterns, and DevOps processes.

TD Bank uses cloud as catalyst for cultural change in IT
May 18, 2015 Written by Jonathan Brandon for Business Cloud News

North American retail banking outfit TD Bank is using OpenStack among a range of other open source cloud technologies to help catalyse cultural change as it looks to reduce costs and technology redundancy, explained TD Bank group vice president of engineering Graeme Peacock.

TD Bank is one of Canada’s largest retail banks, having divested many of its investment banking divisions over the past ten years while buying up smaller American retail banks in a bid to offer cross-border banking services.
Peacock, who was speaking at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver this week, said TD Bank is in the midst of a massive transition in how it procures, deploys and consumes technology. The bank aims to have about 80 per cent of its 4,000 application estate moved over to the cloud over the next five years.
“If they can’t build it on cloud they need to get my permission to obtain a physical server. Which is pretty hard to get,” he said.
But the company’s legacy of acquisition over the past decade has shaped the evolution of both the technology and systems in place at the bank as well as the IT culture and the way those systems and technologies are managed.
“Growing from acquisition means we’ve developed a very project-based culture, and you’re making a lot of transactional decisions within those projects. There are consequences to growing through acquisition – TD is very vendor-centric,” he explained.
“There are a lot of vendors here and I’m fairly certain we’ve bought at least one of everything you’ve ever made. That’s led to the landscape that we’ve had, which has lots of customisation. It’s very expensive and there is little reused.”
Peacock said much of what the bank wants to do is fairly straightforward: moving off highly customised expensive equipment and services, and moving on to more open, standardised commodity platforms, and OpenStack is but one infrastructure-centric tool helping the bank deliver on that goal (it’s using it to stand up an internal private cloud). But the company also has to deal with other aspects a recent string of acquisition has left at the bank, including the fact that its development teams are still quite siloed, in order to reach its goals.
In order to standardise and reduce the number of services the firm’s developers use, the bank  created an engineering centre in Manhattan and elected a team of engineers and developers (currently numbering 30, but will hit roughly 50 by the end of the year) spread between Toronto and New York City, all focused on helping it embrace a cloud-first, slimmed-down application landscape.
The centre and the central engineering team work with other development teams and infrastructure specialists across the bank, collecting feedback through fortnightly Q&As and feeding that back into the solutions being developed and the platforms being procured. Solving developer team fragmentation will ultimately help the bank move forward on this new path sustainably, he explained.
“When your developer community is so siloed you don’t end up adopting standards… you end up with 27 versions of Softcat. Which we have, by the way,” he said.
“This is a big undertaking, and one that has to be continuous. Business lines also have to move with us to decompose those applications and help deliver against those commitments,” he added.

May 9, 2016: From OpenStack Summit Austin, Part 1: Vendors digging in for long haul continued:

While OpenStack may have been conceived as an open source multi-tenant IaaS, its future success will mainly come from hosted and on-premises private cloud deployments. Yes, there are many pockets of success with regional or vertical-focused public clouds based on OpenStack, but none with the scale of AWS or the growth of Microsoft Azure. Hewlett Packard Enterprise shuttered its OpenStack Helion-based public cloud, and Rackspace shifted engineering resources away from its own public cloud. Rackspace, the service provider with the largest share of OpenStack-related revenue, says its private cloud is growing in the ‘high double digits.’ Currently, 56% of OpenStack’s service-provider revenue total is public cloud-based, but we expect private cloud will account for a larger portion over the next few years.

October 21, 2015:

A new model to deliver public cloud by Bill Hill, SVP and GM, HP Cloud

Over the past several years, HP has built its strategy on the idea that a hybrid infrastructure is the future of enterprise IT. In doing so, we have committed to helping our customers seamlessly manage their business across traditional IT and private, managed or public cloud environments, allowing them to optimize their infrastructure for each application’s unique requirements.
The market for hybrid infrastructure is evolving quickly. Today, our customers are consistently telling us that in order to meet their full spectrum of needs, they want a hybrid combination of efficiently managed traditional IT and private cloud, as well as access to SaaS applications and public cloud capabilities for certain workloads. In addition, they are pushing for delivery of these solutions faster than ever before.
With these customer needs in mind, we have made the decision to double-down on our private and managed cloud capabilities. For cloud-enabling software and solutions, we will continue to innovate and invest in our HP Helion OpenStack®platform. HP Helion OpenStack® has seen strong customer adoption and now runs our industry leading private cloud solution, HP Helion CloudSystem, which continues to deliver strong double-digit revenue growth and win enterprise customers. On the cloud services side, we will focus our resources on our Managed and Virtual Private Cloud offerings. These offerings will continue to expand, and we will have some very exciting announcements on these fronts in the coming weeks.

Public cloud is also an important part of our customers’ hybrid cloud strategy, and our customers are telling us that the lines between all the different cloud manifestations are blurring. Customers tell us that they want the ability to bring together multiple cloud environments under a flexible and enterprise-grade hybrid cloud model. In order to deliver on this demand with best-of-breed public cloud offerings, we will move to a strategic, multiple partner-based model for public cloud capabilities, as a component of how we deliver these hybrid cloud solutions to enterprise customers.

Therefore, we will sunset our HP Helion Public Cloud offering on January 31, 2016. As we have before, we will help our customers design, build and run the best cloud environments suited to their needs – based on their workloads and their business and industry requirements.

To support this new model, we will continue to aggressively grow our partner ecosystem and integrate different public cloud environments. To enable this flexibility, we are helping customers build cloud-portable applications based on HP Helion OpenStack® and the HP Helion Development Platform. In Europe, we are leading the Cloud28+ initiative that is bringing together commercial and public sector IT vendors and EU regulators to develop common cloud service offerings across 28 different countries.
For customers who want access to existing large-scale public cloud providers, we have already added greater support for Amazon Web Services as part of our hybrid delivery with HP Helion Eucalyptus, and we have worked with Microsoft to support Office 365 and Azure. We also support our PaaS customers wherever they want to run our Cloud Foundry platform – in their own private clouds, in our managed cloud, or in a large-scale public cloud such as AWS or Azure.
All of these are key elements in helping our customers transform into a hybrid, multi-cloud IT world. We will continue to innovate and grow in our areas of strength, we will continue to help our partners and to help develop the broader open cloud ecosystem, and we will continue to listen to our customers to understand how we can help them with their entire end-to-end IT strategies.

 December 1, 2015:

Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Microsoft announce plans to deliver integrated hybrid IT infrastructure press release

London, U.K. – December 1, 2015 – Today at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Discover, HPE and Microsoft Corp. announced new innovation in Hybrid Cloud computing through Microsoft Azure, HPE infrastructure and services, and new program offerings. The extended partnership appoints Microsoft Azure as a preferred public cloud partner for HPE customers while HPE will serve as a preferred partner in providing infrastructure and services for Microsoft’s hybrid cloud offerings.

“Hewlett Packard Enterprise is committed to helping businesses transform to hybrid cloud environments in order to drive growth and value,” said Meg Whitman, President and CEO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Public cloud services, like those Azure provides, are an important aspect of a hybrid cloud strategy and Microsoft Azure blends perfectly with HPE solutions to deliver what our customers need most.”
The partnering companies will collaborate across engineering and services to integrate innovative compute platforms that help customers optimize their IT environment, leverage new consumption models and accelerate their business further, faster.
“Our mission to empower every organization on the planet is a driving force behind our broad partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise that spans Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows 10,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “We are now extending our longstanding partnership by blending the power of Azure with HPE’s leading infrastructure, support and services to make the cloud more accessible to enterprises around the globe.”
Product Integration and Collaboration HPE and Microsoft are introducing the first hyper-converged system with true hybrid cloud capabilities, the HPE Hyper-Converged 250 for Microsoft Cloud Platform System StandardBringing together industry leading HPE ProLiant technology and Microsoft Azure innovation, the jointly engineered solution brings Azure services to customers’ datacenters, empowering users to choose where and how they want to leverage the cloud. An Azure management portal enables business users to self-deploy Windows and Linux workloads, while ensuring IT has central oversight. Azure services provide reliable backup and disaster recovery, and with HPE OneView for Microsoft System Center, customers get an integrated management experience across all system components. HPE offers hardware and software support, installation and startup services to customers to speed deployment to just a matter of hours, lower risk and decrease total cost of ownership. The CS 250 is available to order today.
As part of the expanded partnership, HPE will enable Azure consumption and services on every HPE server, which allows customers to rapidly realize the benefits of hybrid cloud.
Extended Support and Services to Simplify Cloud
HPE and Microsoft will create HPE Azure Centers of Excellence in Palo Alto, Calif. and Houston, Texas, to ensure customers have a seamless hybrid cloud experience when leveraging Azure across HPE infrastructure, software and services. Through the work at these centers, both companies will invest in continuing advancements in Hybrid IT and Composable Infrastructure.
Because Azure is a preferred provider of public cloud for HPE customers, HPE also plans to certify an additional 5,000 Azure Cloud Architects through its Global Services Practice. This will extend its Enterprise Services offerings to bring customers an open, agile hybrid cloud with improved security that integrates with Azure.
Partner Program Collaboration
Microsoft will join the HPE Composable Infrastructure Partner Program to accelerate innovation for the next-generation infrastructure and advance the automation and integration of Microsoft System Center and HPE OneView orchestration tools with today’s infrastructure.
Likewise, HPE joined two Microsoft programs that help customers accelerate their hybrid cloud journey through end-to-end cloud, mobility, identity and productivity solutions. As a participant in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program, HPE will sell Microsoft cloud solutions across Azure, the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite and Office 365.

May 9, 2016: From OpenStack Summit Austin, Part 1: Vendors digging in for long haul continued:

VENDOR DEVELOPMENTS

As of the Mitaka release, two new gold members were added: UnitedStack and EasyStack, both from China. Other service providers and vendors shared their customer momentum and product updates with 451 Research during the summit. Among the highlights are: ƒ

  • AT&T has cobbled together a DevOps team from 67 different organizations, in order to transform into a software company. ƒ
  • All of GoDaddy’s new servers are going into its OpenStack environment. It is also using the Ironic (bare metal) project and exploring containers on OpenStack. ƒ
  • SwiftStack built a commercial product with an AWS-like consumption model using the Swift (object storage) project. It now has over 60 customers, including eBay, PayPal, Burton Snowboards and Ancestry.com. ƒ
  • OVH is based in France and operates a predominately pan-Europe public cloud. It added Nova compute in 2014, and currently has 75PB on Swift storage. ƒ
  • Unitas Global says OpenStack-related enterprise engagements are a large part of its 100% Y/Y growth. While it does not contribute code, it is helping to develop operational efficiencies and working with Canonical to deploy ‘vanilla’ OpenStack using Juju charms. Tableau Software is a client. ƒ
  • DreamHost is operating an OpenStack public cloud, DreamCompute, and is a supporter of the Astara (network orchestration) project. It claims 2,000 customers for DreamCompute and 10,000 customers for its object storage product. ƒ
  • Platform9 is a unique OpenStack in SaaS startup with 20 paying customers. Clients bring their own hardware, and the software provides the management functions and takes care of patching and upgrades. ƒ
  • AppFormix is a software startup focused on cloud operators and application developers that has formed a licensing agreement with Rackspace. Its analytics and capacity-planning dashboard software will now be deployed on Rackspace’s OpenStack private cloud. The software also works with Azure and AWS. ƒ
  • Tesora is leveraging the Trove project to offer DBaaS. The vendor built a plug-in for Mirantis’ Fuel installer. The collaboration claims to make commercial, open source relational and NoSQL databases easier for administrators to deploy.

April 25, 2016:

AT&T’s Cloud Journey with OpenStack by Sorabh Saxena SVP, Software Development & Engineering, AT&T

OpenStack + AT&T Innovation = AT&T Integrated Cloud.

AT&T’s network has experienced enormous growth in traffic in the last several years and the trend continues unabated. Our software defined network initiative addresses the escalating traffic demands and brings greater agility and velocity to delivering features to end customers. The underlying fabric of this software defined network is AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC).

Sorabh Saxena, AT&T’s SVP of Software Development & Engineering, will share several use cases that will highlight a multi-dimensional strategy for delivering an enterprise & service provider scale cloud. The use cases will illustrate OpenStack as the foundational element of AIC, AT&T solutions that complement it, and how it’s integrated with the larger AT&T ecosystem.

http://att.com/ecomp


As the Senior Vice President of Software Development and Engineering at AT&T, Sorabh Saxena is leading AT&T’s transformation to a software-based company.  Towards that goal, he is leading the development of platforms that include AT&T’s Integrated Cloud (AIC), API, Data, and Business Functions. Additionally, he manages delivery and production support of AT&T’s software defined network.

Sorabh and his organization are also responsible for technology solutions and architecture for all IT projects, AT&T Operation Support Systems and software driven business transformation programs that are positioning AT&T to be a digital first, integrated communications company with a best in class cost structure. Sorabh is also championing a cultural shift with a focus on workforce development and software & technology skills development.

Through Sorabh and his team’s efforts associated with AIC, AT&T is implementing an industry leading, highly complex and massively scaled OpenStack cloud.  He is an advocate of OpenStack and his organization contributes content to the community that represents the needs of large enterprises and communication services providers.

April 25, 2016And the Superuser Award goes to… AT&T takes the fourth annual Superuser Award.

AUSTIN, Texas — The OpenStack Austin Summit kicked off day one by awarding the Superuser Award to AT&T.

NTT, winners of the Tokyo edition, passed the baton onstage to the crew from AT&T.

AT&T is a legacy telco which is transforming itself by adopting virtual infrastructure and a software defined networking focus in order to compete in the market and create value for customers in the next five years and beyond. They have almost too many OpenStack accomplishments to list–read their full application here.

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Sorabh Saxena gives a snapshot of AT&Ts OpenStack projects during the keynote.

The OpenStack Foundation launched the Superuser Awards to recognize, support and celebrate teams of end-users and operators that use OpenStack to meaningfully improve their businesses while contributing back to the community.

The legacy telecom is in the top 20 percent for upstream contributions with plans to increase this significantly in 2016.

It’s time for the community to determine the winner of the Superuser Award to be presented at the OpenStack Austin Summit. Based on the nominations received, the Superuser Editorial Advisory Board conducted the first round of judging and narrowed the pool to four finalists.

Now, it’s your turn.

The team from AT&T is one of the four finalists. Review the nomination criteria below, check out the other nominees and cast your vote before the deadline, Friday, April 8 at 11:59 p.m.Pacific Daylight Time. Voting is limited to one ballot per person.

How has OpenStack transformed your business?

AT&T is a legacy telco which is transforming itself by adopting virtual infrastructure and a software defined networking focus in order to compete in the market and create value for customers in the next five years and beyond.

  1. Virtualization and virtual network functions (VNFs) are of critical importance to the Telecom industry to address growth and agility. AT&T’s Domain 2.0 Industry Whitepaper released in 2013 outlines the need as well as direction.
  2. AT&T chose OpenStack as the core foundation of their cloud and virtualization strategy
  3. OpenStack has reinforced AT&T’s open source strategy and strengthened our dedication to the community as we actively promote and invest resources in OpenStack
  4. AT&T is committing staff and resources to drive the vision and innovation in the OpenStack and OPNFV communities to help drive OpenStack as the default cloud orchestrator for the Telecom industry
  5. AT&T as a founding member of the ETSI ISG network functions virtualization (NFV) helped drive OpenStack as the cloud orchestrator in the NFV platform framework. OpenStack was positioned as the VIM – Virtual Infrastructure Manager. This accelerated the convergence of the Telco industry onto OpenStack.

OpenStack serves as a critical foundation for AT&T’s software-defined networking (SDN) and NFV future and we take pride in the following:

  • AT&T has deployed 70+ OpenStack (Juno & Kilo based) clouds globally, which are currently operational. Of the 70+ clouds 57 are production application and network clouds.
  • AT&T plans 90% growth, going to 100+ production application and network clouds by the end of 2016.
  • AT&T connects more than 14 million wireless customers via virtualized networks, with significant subscriber cut-over planned again in 2016
  • AT&T controls 5.7% of our network resources (29 Telco production grade VNFs) with OpenStack, with plans to reach 30% by the end of 2016 and 75% by 2020.
  • AT&T trained more than 100 staff in OpenStack in 2015

AT&T plans to expand to expand its community team of 50+ employees in 2016 As the chosen cloud platform OpenStack enabled AT&T in the following SDN and NFV related initiatives:

  • Our recently announced 5G field trials in Austin
  • Re-launch of unlimited data to mobility customers
  • Launch of AT&T Collaborate a next generation communication tool for enterprise
  • Provisioning of a Network on Demand platform to more than 500 enterprise customers
  • Connected Car and MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator)
  • Mobile Call Recording
  • Internally we are virtualizing our control services like DNS, NAT, NTP, DHCP, radius, firewalls, load balancers and probes for fault and performance management.

Since 2012, AT&T has developed all of our significant new applications in a cloud native fashion hosted on OpenStack. We also architected OpenStack to support legacy apps.

  • AT&T’s SilverLining Cloud (predecessor to AIC) leveraged the OpenStack Diablo release, dating as far back as 2011
  • OpenStack currently resides on over 15,000 VMs worldwide, with the expectation of further, significant growth coming in 2016-17
  • AT&T’s OpenStack integrated Orchestration framework has resulted in a 75% reduction in turnaround time for requests for virtual resources
  • AT&T Plans to move 80% of our Legacy IT into the OpenStack based virtualized cloud environment within coming years
  • Uniform set of APIs exposed by OpenStack allows AT&T business units to leverage a “develop-once-run-everywhere” set of tools OpenStack helps AT&T’s strategy to begin to adopt best of the breed solutions at five 9’s of reliability for:
    • NFV
    • Internet-scale storage service
    • SDN
  • Putting all AT&T’s workloads on one common platform Deployment Automation: OpenStack modules have enabled AT&T to cost-effectively manage the OpenStack configuration in an automated, holistic fashion.
  • Using OpenStack Heat, AT&T pushed rolling updates and incremental changes across 70+ OpenStack clouds. Doing it manually would be take many more people and a much longer schedule.
  • Using OpenStack Fuel as a pivotal component in its cloud deployments AT&T accelerates the otherwise consuming, complex, and error-prone process of deploying, testing, and maintaining various configuration flavors of OpenStack at scale. AT&T was a major contributor towards Fuel 7.0 and Fuel 8.0 requirements. OpenStack has been a pivotal driver of AT&T’s overall culture shift. AT&T as an organization is in the midst of a massive culture shift from a Legacy Telco to a company where new skills, techniques and solutions are embraced.

OpenStack has been a key driver of this transformation in the following ways:

  • AT&T is now building 50 percent of all software on open source technologies
  • Allowing for the adoption of a dev ops model that creates a more unified team working towards a better end product
  • Development transitioned from a waterfall to cloud-native CICD methodologies
  • Developers continue to support OpenStack and make their applications cloud-native whenever possible.

How has the organization participated in or contributed to the OpenStack community?

AT&T was the first U.S. telecom service provider to sign up for and adopt the then early stage NASA-spawned OpenStack cloud initiative, back in 2011.

  • AT&T has been an active OpenStack contributor since the Bexar release.
  • AT&T has been a Platinum Member of the OpenStack Foundation since its origins in 2012 after helping to create its bylaws.
  • Toby Ford, AVP AT&T Cloud Technology has provided vision, technology leadership, and innovation to OpenStack ecosystem as an OpenStack Foundation board member since late 2012.
  • AT&T is founding member of ETSI, and OPNFV.
  • AT&T has invested in building an OpenStack upstream contribution team with 25 current employees and a target for 50+ employees by the end of 2016.
  • During the early years of OpenStack, AT&T brought many important use-cases to the community. AT&T worked towards solving those use-cases by leveraging various OpenStack modules, in turn encouraging other enterprises to have confidence in the young ecosystem.
  • AT&T drove these following Telco-grade blueprint contributions to past releases of OpenStack:
    • VLAN aware VMs (i.e. Trunked vNICs) – Support for BGP VPN, and shared volumes between guest VMs
    • Complex query support for statistics in Ceilometer
    • Spell checker gate job
    • Metering support for PCI/PCIe per VM tenant
    • PCI passthrough measurement in Ceilometer – Coverage measurement gate job
    • Nova using ephemeral storage with cinder
    • Climate subscription mechanism
    • Access switch port discovery for bare metal nodes
    • SLA enforcement per vNIC – MPLS VPNaaS
    • NIC-state aware scheduling
  • Toby Ford has regularly been invited to present keynotes, sessions, and panel talks at a number of OpenStack summits. For instance: Role of OpenStack in a Telco: User case study – at Atlanta Summit May 2014 – Leveraging OpenStack to Solve Telco needs: Intro to SDN/NFV – Atlanta Summit May 2014 – Telco OpenStack Roadmap Panel Talk – Tokyo Summit October 2015 – OpenStack Roadmap Software Trajectory – Atlanta Summit May 2014 – Cloud Control to Major Telco – Paris Summit November 2014.
  • Greg Stiegler, assistant vice president – AT&T cloud tools & development organization represented the AT&T technology development organization at the Tokyo Summit.
  • AT&T Cloud and D2 Architecture team members were invited to present various keynote sessions, summit sessions and panel talks including: – Participation at the Women of OpenStack Event – Tokyo Summit 2015 – Empower Your Cloud Through Neutron Service Function Chaining – Tokyo Summit Oct 2015 – OPNFV Panel – Vancouver Summit May 2015 – OpenStack as a Platform for Innovation – Keynote at OpenStack Silicon Valley – Aug 2015 – Taking OpenStack From Zero to Production in a Fortune-500 – Tokyo Summit October 2015 – Operating at Web-scale: Containers and OpenStack Panel Talk – Tokyo Summit October 2015 * AT&T strives to collaborate with other leading industry partners in the OpenStack ecosystem. This has led to the entire community benefiting from AT&T’s innovation.
  • Margaret Chiosi gives talks worldwide on AT&T’s D2.0 vision at many Telco conferences ranging from Optics (OFC) to SDN/NFV conferences advocating OpenStack as the de-facto cloud orchestrator.
  • AT&T Entertainment Group (DirecTV) architected multi-hypervisor hybrid OpenStack cloud by designing Neutron ML2 plugin. This innovation helped achieve integration between legacy virtualization and OpenStack.
  • AT&T is proud to drive OpenStack adoption by sharing knowledge back to the OpenStack community in the form of these summit sessions at the upcoming Austin summit:
    • Telco Cloud Requirements: What VNFs Are Asking For
    • Using a Service VM as an IPv6 vRouter
    • Service Function Chaining
    • Technology Analysis Perspective
    • Deploying Lots of Teeny Tiny Telco Clouds
    • Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about OpenStack At Scale
    • Valet: Holistic Data Center Optimization for OpenStack
    • Gluon: An Enabler for NFV
    • Among the Cloud: Open Source NFV + SDN Deployment
    • AT&T: Driving Enterprise Workloads on KVM and vCenter using OpenStack as the Unified Control Plane
    • Striving for High-Performance NFV Grid on OpenStack. Why you, and every OpenStack community member should be excited about it
    • OpenStack at Carrier Scale
  • AT&T is the “first to marketwith deployment of OpenStack supported carrier-grade Virtual Network Functions. We provide the community with integral data, information, and first-hand knowledge on the trials and tribulations experienced deploying NFV technology.
  • AT&T ranks in the top 20 percent of all companies in terms of upstream contribution (code, documentation, blueprints), with plans to increase this significantly in 2016.
    • Commits: 1200+
    • Lines of Code: 116,566
    • Change Requests: 618
    • Patch Sets: 1490
    • Draft Blueprints: 76
    • Completed Blueprints: 30
    • Filed Bugs: 350
    • Resolved Bugs: 250

What is the scale of the OpenStack deployment?

  • AT&T’s OpenStack based AIC is deployed at 70+ sites across the world. Of the 70+ 57 are production app and network clouds.
  • AT&T plans 90% growth, going to 100+ production app and network clouds by end of 2016.
  • AT&T connects more than 14 million of the 134.5 million wireless customers via virtualized networks with significant subscriber cutover planned again in 2016
  • AT&T controls 5.7% of our network resources (29 Telco production grade VNF) with a goal of high 80s by end of 2016) on OpenStack.
  • Production workloads also include AT&T’s Connected Car, Network on Demand, and AT&T Collaborate among many more.

How is this team innovating with OpenStack?

  • AT&T and AT&T Labs are leveraging OpenStack to innovate with Containers and NFV technology.
  • Containers are a key part of AT&Ts Cloud Native Architecture. AT&T chairs the Open Container Initiative (OCI) to drive the standardization around container formats.
  • AT&T is leading the effort to improve Nova and Neutron’s interface to SDN controllers.
  • Margaret Chiosi, an early design collaborator to Neutron, ETSI NFV, now serves as President of OPNFV. AT&T is utilizing its position with OPNFV to help shape the future of OpenStack / NFV. OpenStack has enabled AT&T to innovate extensively.

The following recent unique workloads would not be possible without the SDN and NFV capabilities which OpenStack enables: * Our recent announcements of 5G field trials in Austin * Re-launch of unlimited data to mobility customers * Launch of AT&T Collaborate * Network on Demand platform to more than 500 enterprise customers * Connected Car and MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) * Mobile Call Recording New services by AT&T Entertainment Group (DirecTV) that would use OpenStack based cloud infrastructure in coming years: * NFL Sunday Ticket with up to 8 simultaneous games * DirecTV Streaming Service Without Need For satellite dish

In summary – the innovation with OpenStack is not just our unique workloads, but also to support them together under the same framework, management systems, development/test, CI/CD pipelines, and deployment automation toolset(s).

Who are the team members?

  • AT&T Cloud and D2 architecture team
  • AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC) Members: Margaret Chiosi, distinguished member of technical staff, president of OPNFV; Toby Ford, AVP – AT&T cloud technology & D2 architecture – strategy, architecture & pPlanning, and OpenStack Foundation Board Member; Sunil Jethwani – director, cloud & SDN architecture, AT&T Entertainment Group; Andrew Leasck – director – AT&T Integrated cloud development; Janet Morris – director – AT&T integrated cloud development; Sorabh Saxena, senior vice president – AT&T software development & engineering organization; Praful Shanghavi – director – AT&T integrated cloud development; Bryan Sullivan – director member of technical staff; Ryan Van Wyk – executive director – AT&T integrated cloud development.
  • AT&T’s project teams top contributors: Paul Carver, Steve Wilkerson, John Tran, Joe D’andrea, Darren Shaw.

April 30, 2016Swisscom in Production with OpenStack and Cloud Foundry

Swisscom has one of the largest in-production industry standard Platform as a Service built on OpenStack. Their offering is focused on providing an enterprise-grade PaaS environment to customers worldwide and with various delivery models based on Cloud Foundry and OpenStack. Swisscom embarked early on the OpenStack journey to deploy their app cloud partnering with Red Hat, Cloud Foundry, and PLUMgrid. With services such as MongoDB, MariaDB, RabbitMQ, ELK, and an object storage, the PaaS cloud offers what developers need to get started right away. Join this panel for take-away lessons on Swisscom’s journey, the technologies, partnerships, and developers who are building apps everyday on Swisscom’s OpenStack cloud.

May 23, 2016How OpenStack public cloud + Cloud Foundry = a winning platform for telecoms interview on ‘OpenStack Superuser’ with Marcel Härry, chief architect, PaaS at Swisscom

Swisscom has one of the largest in-production industry standard platform-as-a-service built on OpenStack.

Their offering focuses on providing an enterprise-grade PaaS environment to customers worldwide and with various delivery models based on Cloud Foundry and OpenStack. Swisscom, Switzerland’s leading telecom provider, embarked early on the OpenStack journey to deploy their app cloud partnering with Red Hat, Cloud Foundry and PLUMgrid.

Superuser interviewed Marcel Härry, chief architect, PaaS at Swisscom and member of theTechnical Advisory Board of the Cloud Foundry Foundation to find out more.

How are you using OpenStack?

OpenStack has allowed us to rapidly develop and deploy our Cloud Foundry-based PaaS offering, as well as to rapidly develop new features within SDN and containers. OpenStack is the true enabler for rapid development and delivery.

An example: after half a year from the initial design and setup, we already delivered two production instances of our PaaS offering built on multiple OpenStack installations on different sites. Today we are already running multiple production deployments for high-profile customers, who further develop their SaaS offerings using our platform. Additionally, we are providing the infrastructure for numerous lab and development instances. These environments allow us to harden and stabilize new features while maintaining a rapid pace of innovation, while still ensuring a solid environment.

We are running numerous OpenStack stacks, all limited – by design – to a single region, and single availability zone. Their size ranges from a handful of compute nodes, to multiple dozens of compute nodes, scaled based on the needs of the specific workloads. Our intention is not to build overly large deployments, but rather to build multiple smaller stacks, hosting workloads that can be migrated between environments. These stacks are hosting thousands of VMs, which in turn are hosting tens of thousands of containers to run production applications or service instances for our customers.

What kinds of applications or workloads are you currently running on OpenStack?

We’ve been using OpenStack for almost three years now as our infrastructure orchestrator. Swisscom built its Elastic Cloud on top of OpenStack. On top of this we run Swisscom’s Application Cloud, or PaaS, built on Cloud Foundry with PLUMgrid as the SDN layer. Together, the company’s clouds deliver IaaS to IT architects, SaaS to end users and PaaS to app developers among other services and applications. We mainly run our PaaS/Cloud Foundry environment on OpenStack as well as the correlated managed services (i.e. a kind of DBaaS, Message Service aaS etc.) which are running themselves in Docker containers.

What challenges have you faced in your organization regarding OpenStack, and how did you overcome them?

The learning curve for OpenStack is pretty steep. When we started three years ago almost no reference architectures were available, especially none with enterprise-grade requirements such as dual-site, high availability (HA) capabilities on various levels and so forth. In addition, we went directly into the SDN, SDS levels of implementation which was a big, but very successful step at the end of the day.

What were your major milestones?

Swisscom’s go-live for its first beta environment was in spring of 2014, go live for an internal development (at Swisscom) was spring of 2015, and the go-live for its public Cloud Foundry environment fully hosted on OpenStack was in the fall of 2015. The go-live date for enterprise-grade and business-critical workloads on top of our stack from various multinational companies in verticals like finance or industry is spring, 2016, and Swisscom recently announced Swiss Re as one of its first large enterprise cloud customers.

What have been the biggest benefits to your organization as a result of using OpenStack?

Pluggability and multi-vendor interoperability (for instance with SDN like PLUMgrid or SDS like ScaleIO) to avoid vendor lock in and create a seamless system. OpenStack enabled Swisscom to experiment with deployments utilizing a DevOps model and environment to deploy and develop applications faster. It simplified the move from PoC to production environments and enabled us to easily scale out services utilizing a distributed cluster-based architecture.

What advice do you have for companies considering a move to OpenStack?

It’s hard in the beginning but it’s really worth it. Be wise when you select your partners and vendors, this will help you to be online in a very short amount of time. Think about driving your internal organization towards a dev-ops model to be ready for the first deployments, as well as enabling your firm to change deployment models (e.g. going cloud-native) for your workloads when needed.

How do you participate in the community?

This year’s Austin event was our second OpenStack Summit where we provided insights into our deployment and architecture, contributing back to the community in terms of best practices, as well as providing real-world production use-cases. Furthermore, we directly contribute patches and improvements to various OpenStack projects. Some of these patches have already been accepted, while a few are in the pipeline to be further polished for publishing. Additionally, we are working very closely together with our vendors – RedHat, EMC, ClusterHQ/Flocker, PLUMgrid as well as the Cloud Foundry Foundation – and work together to further improve their integration and stability within the OpenStack project. For example, we worked closely together with Flocker for their cinder-based driver to orchestrate persistency among containers. Furthermore, we have provided many bug reports through our vendors and have worked together with them on fixes which then have made their way back into the OpenStack community.

What’s next?

We have a perfect solution for non-persistent container workloads for our customers. We are constantly evolving this product and are working especially hard to meet the enterprise- and finance-verticals requirements when it comes to the infrastructure orchestration of OpenStack.

Härry spoke about OpenStack in production at the recent Austin Summit, along with Pere Monclus of PLUMgrid, Chip Childers of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, Chris Wright of Red Hat and analyst Rosalyn Roseboro. 

May 10, 2016: Lenovo‘s Highly-Available OpenStack Enterprise Cloud Platform Practice with EasyStack press release by EasyStack

BEIJING, May 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — In 2015, the Chinese IT superpower Lenovo chose EasyStack to build an OpenStack-based enterprise cloud platform to carry out their “Internet Strategy”. In six months, this platform has evolved into an enterprise-level OpenStack production environment of over 3000 cores with data growth peaking at 10TB/day. It is expected that by the end of 2016, 20% of the IT system will be migrated onto the Cloud.

OpenStack is the foundation for Cloud, and perhaps has matured in the overseas market. In China, OpenStack practices worthy of noticing often come from the relatively new category of Internet Companies. Though it has long been marketed as “enterprise-ready”, traditional industries still tend to hold back towards OpenStack. This article aims to turn this perception around by presenting an OpenStack practice from the Chinese IT Superpower Lenovo, detailing their journey of transformation in both the technology and business realms to a private cloud built upon OpenStack. Although OpenStack will still be largely a carrier for internet businesses, Lenovo plans to migrate 20% of its IT system onto the cloud before the end of 2016 – taking a much applauded step forward.

Be it the traditional PC or the cellphone, technology’s evolving fast amidst this move towards mobile and social networking, and the competition’s fierce. In response to rapidly changing market dynamics, the Lenovo Group made the move of going from being product-oriented to a user-oriented strategy that can only be supported by an agile, flexible and scalable enterprise-level cloud platform capable of rapid iterations. After thorough consideration and careful evaluation, Lenovo chose OpenStack as the basis for their enterprise cloud platform to carry out this “Internet Strategy”. After six months of practice, this platform has evolved into an enterprise-level OpenStack production environment of over 3000 cores with data growth peaking at 10TB/day. It’s expected that 20% of the IT system will be migrated onto the Cloud by the end of 2016.

Transformation and Picking the Right Cloud

In the past, internal IT at Lenovo has always been channel- and key client-oriented, with a traditional architecture consisting of IBM Power, AIX, PowerVM, DB2 and more recently, VMware virtualization. In the move towards becoming an Internet Company, such traditional architecture was far from being able to support the user and business volume brought by the B2C model. Cost-wise, Lenovo’s large-scale deployment of commercial solutions were reliable but complex to scale and extremely expensive.

Also, this traditional IT architecture was inadequate in terms of operational efficiency, security and compliance and unable to support Lenovo’s transition towards eCommerce and mobile business. In 2015, Lenovo’s IT entered a stage of infrastructural re-vamp, in need of using a cloud computing platform to support new businesses.

To find the right makeup for the cloud platform, Lenovo performed meticulous analyses and comparisons on mainstream x86 virtualization technologies, private cloud platforms, and public cloud platforms. After evaluating stability, usability, openness and ecosystem vitality and comprehensiveness, Lenovo deemed the OpenStack cloud platform technology able to fulfill its enterprise needs and decided to use OpenStack as the infrastructural cloud platform supporting their constant businesses innovations.

Disaster recovery plans on virtual machines, cloud hard drives and databases were considered early on into the OpenStack architectural design to ensure prompt switch over when needed to maintain business availability.

A Highly Available Architectural Design

On architectural logic, Lenovo’s Enterprise Cloud Platform managed infrastructures through a software-defined-environment, using x86 servers and 10GB network at the base layer, alongside internet-style monitoring and maintenance solutions, while employing the OpenStack platform to perform overall resource management.

To ensure high availability and improve the cloud platform’s system efficiency, Lenovo designed a physical architecture, and used capable servers with advanced configurations to make up the compute, storage network all-in-one, then using OpenStack to integrate into a single resource pool, placing compute nodes and storage nodes on the same physical node.

Two-way X3650 servers and four-way ThinkServer RQ940 server as backbones at the hardware layer. For every node there are five SSD hard drivers and 12 SAS hard drives to make up the storage module. SSD not only acts as the storage buffer, but also is the high performance storage resource pool, accessing the distributed storage through the VM to achieve high availability.

Lenovo had to resolve a number of problems and overcome numerous hurdles to elevate OpenStack to the enterprise-level.

Compute

Here, Lenovo utilized high-density virtual machine deployment. At the base is KVM virtualization technology, optimized in multiple way to maximize physical server performance, isolating CPU, Memory and other hardware resources under the compute-storage convergent architecture. The outcome is the ability to have over 50 VMs running smoothly and efficiently on every two-core CPU compute node.

In the cloud environment, it’s encouraged to achieve high availability through not hardware, but solutions. Yet still there are some traditional applications that hold certain requirements to a single host server. For such applications unable to achieve High Availability, Lenovo used Compute HA technology to achieve high availability on compute nodes, performing fault detection through various methods, migrating virtual machines on faulted physical machine to other available physical machines when needed. This entire process is automated, reducing as much as possible business disruptions caused by physical machine breakdowns.

Network

Network Isolation

Using different NIC, different switch or different VLAN to isolate various networks such as stand-alone OpenStack management networks, virtual production networks, storage networks, public networks, and PXE networks, so that interferences are avoided, increasing overall bandwidth and enabling better network control.

Multi-Public Network

Achieve network agility through multiple public networks to better manage security strategies. The Public Networks from Unicom, Telecom and at the office are some examples

Network and Optimization

Better integrate with the traditional data center network through the VLAN network model, then optimize its data package processing to achieve improved capability on network data pack process, bringing closer the virtual machine bandwidth to that of the physical network.

Dual Network Protocol Bundling and Multi Switch

Achieve high availability of physical networks through dual network protocol bundling to different switches.

Network Node HA

Achieve public network load balance, high availability and high performance through multiple network nodes, at which router-level Active/Standby methodology is used to achieve HA, which is ensured through independent network router monitoring services.

Storage

The Lenovo OpenStack Cloud Platform used Ceph as the unified storage backend, in which data storage for Glance image mirroring, Nova virtual machine system disc, and Cinder cloud hard drive are provided by Ceph RBD. Using Ceph’s Copy on Write function to revise OpenStack codes can deploy virtual machines within seconds.

With Ceph as the unified storage backend, its functionality is undoubtedly a key metric on whether the critical applications of an enterprise can be virtualized and cloud-ready. In a super-convergent deployment architecture where compute and storage run alongside each other, storage function optimization not only have to maximize storage capability, but also have to ensure the isolation between storage and compute resources to maintain system stability. For the IO stack below, Lenovo conducted bottom-up layer-by-layer optimization:

On the Networks

Open the Jumbo frame, improve data transfer efficiency while use 10Gb Ethernet to carry Ceph Cluster network traffics, improving the efficiency on Ceph data replication.

On Functionality

Leverage Solid State Disc as the Ceph OSD log to improve overall cluster IO functionality, to fulfill performance demands of critical businesses ( for example the eCommerce system’s database businesses, etc.) and achieve function-cost balance. SSD is known for its low power consumption, prompt response, high IOPS, and high throughput. In the Ceph log system, these are aligned to multithread access; using SSD to replace mechanical hard drives can fully unleash SSD’s trait of random access, rapid response and high IO throughput. Appropriately optimizing IO coordination strategy and further suit it to SSD and lower overall IO latency.

Purposeful Planning

Plan the number of Ceph OSD under the super-convergent node reasonably according to virtual machine density on the server, while assign in advance CPU and other memory resources. Cgroup, taskset and other tools can be used to perform resource isolation for QEMU-KVM and Ceph OSD

Parameter Tuning

Regarding parameter tuning for Ceph, performance can be effectively improved by fine-tuning parameters on FileStore’s default sequence, OSD’s OP thread and others. Additional tuning can be done through performing iteration test to find the most suitable parameter for the current hardware environment.

Data HA

Regarding data HA, besides existing OpenStack data protection measures, Lenovo has planned a comprehensive disaster recovery protocol for its three centers at two locations:

By employing exclusive low-latency fiber-optic cable, data can be simultaneously stored in local backup centers, and started asynchronously in long-distance centers, maximizing data security.

AD Integration

In addition, Lenovo has integrated its own business demands into the OpenStack enterprise cloud platform. As a mega company with tens of thousands of employees, AD activity logs are needed for authorization so that staffs won’t need to be individually set up user commands. Through customized development by part of the collaborator, Lenovo has successfully integrated AD functions into its OpenStack Enterprise Cloud Platform.

Overall Outcomes

Lenovo’s transformation towards being “internet-driven” was able to begin after the buildup of this OpenStack Enterprise Cloud Platform. eCommerce, Big Data and Analytics, IM, Online Mobile Phone Support and other internet based businesses, all supported by this cloud platform. Judging from feedback from the team, the Lenovo OpenStack Enterprise Cloud Platform is functioning as expected.

In the process of building up this OpenStack based enterprise cloud platform, Lenovo chose EasyStack, the leading Chinese OpenStack Company to provide professional implementation and consulting services, helping to build the initial platform, fostering a number of OpenStack experts. For Lenovo, community compatibility and continuous upgrade, as well as experiences in delivering services at the enterprise level are the main factors for consideration when choosing an OpenStack business partner.

Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft

Update: Gates Says He’s Very Happy With Microsoft’s Nadella [Bloomberg TV, Oct 2, 2014] + Bill Gates is trying to make Microsoft Office ‘dramatically better’ [The Verge, Oct 3, 2014]

This is the essence of Microsoft Fiscal Year 2014 Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call(see also the Press Release and Download Files) for me, as the new, extremely encouraging, overall setup of Microsoft in strategic terms (the below table is mine based on what Satya Nadella told on the conference call):

image

These are extremely encouraging strategic advancements vis–à–vis previously publicized ones here in the following, Microsoft related posts of mine:

I see, however, particularly challenging the continuation of the Lumia story with the above strategy, as with the previous, combined Ballmer/Elop(Nokia) strategy the results were extremely weak:

image

Worthwhile to include here the videos Bloomberg was publishing simultaneously with Microsoft Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call:

Inside Microsoft’s Secret Surface Labs [Bloomberg News, July 22, 2014]

July 22 (Bloomberg) — When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella defined the future of his company in a memo to his 127,100 employees, he singled out the struggling Surface tablet as key to a future built around the cloud and productivity. Microsoft assembled an elite team of designers, engineers, and programmers to spend years holed up in Redmond, Washington to come up with a tablet to take on Apple, Samsung, and Amazon. Bloomberg’s Cory Johnson got an inside look at the Surface labs.

Will Microsoft Kinect Be a Medical Game-Changer? [Bloomberg News, July 22, 2014]

July 23 (Bloomberg) — Microsoft’s motion detecting camera was thought to be a game changer for the video gaming world when it was launched in 2010. While appetite for it has since decreased, Microsoft sees the technology as vital in its broader offering as it explores other sectors like 3d mapping and live surgery. (Source: Bloomberg

Why Microsoft Puts GPS In Meat For Alligators [Bloomberg News, July 22, 2014]

July 23 (Bloomberg) — At the Microsoft Research Lab in Cambridge, scientists track animals and map climate change all on the off chance they’ll stumble across the next big thing. (Source: Bloomberg)

To this it is important to add: How Pier 1 is using the Microsoft Cloud to build a better relationship with their customers [Microsoft Server and Cloud YouTube channel, July 21, 2014]

In this video, Pier 1 Imports discuss how they are using Microsoft Cloud technologies such as Azure Machine Learning to to predict which the product the customer might want to purchase next, helping to build a better relationship with their customers. Learn more: http://www.azure.com/ml

as well as:
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs. MacBook Air 13″ 2014 [CNET YouTube channel, July 21, 2014]

http://cnet.co/1nOygqh Microsoft made a direct comparison between the Surface Pro 3 and the MacBook Air 13″, so we’re throwing them into the Prizefight Ring to settle the score once and for all. Let’s get it on!

Surface Pro 3 vs. MacBook Air (2014) [CTNtechnologynews YouTube channel, July 1, 2014]

The Surface Pro 3 may not be the perfect laptop. But Apple’s MacBook Air is pretty boring. Let’s see which is the better device!

In addition here are some explanatory quotes (for the new overall setup of Microsoft) worth to include here from the Q&A part of Microsoft’s (MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella on Q4 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Jul. 22, 2014 10:59 PM ET]

Mark Moerdler – Sanford Bernstein

Thank you. And Amy one quick question, we saw a significant acceleration this quarter in cloud revenue, or I guess Amy or Satya. You saw acceleration in cloud revenue year-over-year what’s – is this Office for the iPad, is this Azure, what’s driving the acceleration and how long do you think we can keep this going?

Amy Hood

Mark, I will take it and if Satya wants to add, obviously, he should do that. In general, I wouldn’t point to one product area. It was across Office 365, Azure and even CRM online. I think some of the important dynamics that you could point to particularly in Office 365; I really think over the course of the year, we saw an acceleration in moving the product down the market into increasing what we would call the mid-market and even small business at a pace. That’s a particular place I would tie back to some of the things Satya mentioned in the answer to your first question.

Improvements to analytics, improvements to understanding the use scenarios, improving the product in real-time, understanding trial ease of use, ease of sign-up all of these things actually can afford us the ability to go to different categories, go to different geos into different segments. And in addition, I think what you will see more as we initially moved many of our customers to Office 365, it came on one workload. And I think what we’ve increasingly seen is our ability to add more workloads and sell the entirety of the suite through that process. I also mentioned in Azure, our increased ability to sell some of these higher value services. So while, I can speak broadly but all of them, I think I would generally think about the strength of being both completion of our product suite ability to enter new segments and ability to sell new workloads.

Satya Nadella

The only thing I would add is it’s the combination of our SaaS like Dynamics in Office 365, a public cloud offering in Azure. But also our private and hybrid cloud infrastructure which also benefits, because they run on our servers, cloud runs on our servers. So it’s that combination which makes us both unique and reinforcing. And the best example is what we are doing with Azure active directory, the fact that somebody gets on-boarded to Office 365 means that tenant information is in Azure AD that fact that the tenant information is in Azure AD is what makes EMS or our Enterprise Mobility Suite more attractive to a customer manager iOS, Android or Windows devices. That network effect is really now helping us a lot across all of our cloud efforts.

Keith Weiss – Morgan Stanley

Excellent, thank you for the question and a very nice quarter. First, I think to talk a little bit about the growth strategy of Nokia, you guys look to cut expenses pretty aggressively there, but this is – particularly smartphones is a very competitive marketplace, can you tell us a little bit about sort of the strategy to how you actually start to gain share with Lumia on a going forward basis? And may be give us an idea of what levels of share or what levels of kind unit volumes are you going to need to hit to get to that breakeven in FY16?

Satya Nadella

Let me start and Amy you can even add. So overall, we are very focused on I would say thinking about mobility share across the entire Windows family. I already talked about in my remarks about how mobility for us even goes beyond devices, but for this specific question I would even say that, we want to think about mobility not just one form factor of a mobile device because I think that’s where the ultimate price is.

But that said, we are even year-over-year basis seen increased volume for Lumia, it’s coming at the low end in the entry smartphone market and we are pleased with it. It’s come in many markets we now have over 10% that’s the first market I would sort of say that we need to track country-by-country. And the key places where we are going to differentiate is looking at productivity scenarios or the digital work and life scenario that we can light up on our phone in unique ways.

When I can take my Office Lens App use the camera on the phone take a picture of anything and have it automatically OCR recognized and into OneNote in searchable fashion that’s the unique scenario. What we have done with Surface and PPI shows us the way that there is a lot more we can do with phones by broadly thinking about productivity. So this is not about just a Word or Excel on your phone, it is about thinking about Cortana and Office Lens and those kinds of scenarios in compelling ways. And that’s what at the end of the day is going to drive our differentiation and higher end Lumia phones.

Amy Hood

And Keith to answer your specific question, regarding FY16, I think we’ve made the difficult choices to get the cost base to a place where we can deliver, on the exact scenario Satya as outlined, and we do assume that we continue to grow our units through the year and into 2016 in order to get to breakeven.

Rick Sherlund – Nomura

Thanks. I’m wondering if you could talk about the Office for a moment. I’m curious whether you think we’ve seen the worst for Office here with the consumer fall off. In Office 365 growth in margins expanding their – just sort of if you can look through the dynamics and give us a sense, do you think you are actually turned the corner there and we may be seeing the worse in terms of Office growth and margins?

Satya Nadella

Rick, let me just start qualitatively in terms of how I view Office, the category and how it relates to productivity broadly and then I’ll have Amy even specifically talk about margins and what we are seeing in terms of I’m assuming Office renewals is that probably the question. First of all, I believe the category that Office is in, which is productivity broadly for people, the group as well as organization is something that we are investing significantly and seeing significant growth in.

On one end you have new things that we are doing like Cortana. This is for individuals on new form factors like the phones where it’s not about anything that application, but an intelligent agent that knows everything about my calendar, everything about my life and tries to help me with my everyday task.

On the other end, it’s something like Delve which is a completely new tool that’s taking some – what is enterprise search and making it more like the Facebook news feed where it has a graph of all my artifacts, all my people, all my group and uses that graph to give me relevant information and discover. Same thing with Power Q&A and Power BI, it’s a part of Office 365. So we have a pretty expansive view of how we look at Office and what it can do. So that’s the growth strategy and now specifically on Office renewals.

Amy Hood

And I would say in general, let me make two comments. In terms of Office on the consumer side between what we sold on prem as well as the Home and Personal we feel quite good with attach continuing to grow and increasing the value prop. So I think that’s to address the consumer portion.

On the commercial portion, we actually saw Office grow as you said this quarter; I think the broader definition that Satya spoke to the Office value prop and we continued to see Office renewed in our enterprise agreement. So in general, I think I feel like we’re in a growth phase for that franchise.

Walter Pritchard – Citigroup

Hi, thanks. Satya, I wanted to ask you about two statements that you made, one around responsibly making the market for Windows Phone, just kind of following on Keith’s question here. And that’s a – it’s a really competitive market it feels like ultimately you need to be a very, very meaningful share player in that market to have value for developer to leverage the universal apps that you’re talking about in terms of presentations you’ve given and build in and so forth.

And I’m trying to understand how you can do both of those things once and in terms of responsibly making the market for Windows Phone, it feels difficult given your nearest competitors there are doing things that you might argue or irresponsible in terms of making their market given that they monetize it in different ways?

Satya Nadella

Yes. One of beauties of universal Windows app is, it aggregates for the first time for us all of our Windows volume. The fact that even what is an app that runs with a mouse and keyboard on the desktop can be in the store and you can have the same app run in the touch-first on a mobile-first way gives developers the entire volume of Windows which is 300 plus million units as opposed to just our 4% share of mobile in the U.S. or 10% in some country.

So that’s really the reason why we are actively making sure that universal Windows apps is available and developers are taking advantage of it, we have great tooling. Because that’s the way we are going to be able to create the broadest opportunity to your very point about developers getting an ROI for building to Windows. For that’s how I think we will do it in a responsible way.

Heather Bellini – Goldman Sachs

Great. Thank you so much for your time. I wanted to ask a question about – Satya your comments about combining the next version of Windows and to one for all devices and just wondering if you look out, I mean you’ve got kind of different SKU segmentations right now, you’ve got enterprise, you’ve got consumer less than 9 inches for free, the offering that you mentioned earlier that you recently announced. How do we think about when you come out with this one version for all devices, how do you see this changing kind of the go-to-market and also kind of a traditional SKU segmentation and pricing that we’ve seen in the past?

Satya Nadella

Yes. My statement Heather was more to do with just even the engineering approach. The reality is that we actually did not have one Windows; we had multiple Windows operating systems inside of Microsoft. We had one for phone, one for tablets and PCs, one for Xbox, one for even embedded. So we had many, many of these efforts. So now we have one team with the layered architecture that enables us to in fact one for developers bring that collective opportunity with one store, one commerce system, one discoverability mechanism. It also allows us to scale the UI across all screen sizes; it allows us to create this notion of universal Windows apps and being coherent there.

So that’s what more I was referencing and our SKU strategy will remain by segment, we will have multiple SKUs for enterprises, we will have for OEM, we will have for end-users. And so we will – be disclosing and talking about our SKUs as we get further along, but this my statement was more to do with how we are bringing teams together to approach Windows as one ecosystem very differently than we ourselves have done in the past.

Ed Maguire – CLSA

Hi, good afternoon. Satya you made some comments about harmonizing some of the different products across consumer and enterprise and I was curious what your approach is to viewing your different hardware offerings both in phone and with Surface, how you’re go-to-market may change around that and also since you decided to make the operating system for sub 9-inch devices free, how you see the value proposition and your ability to monetize that user base evolving over time?

Satya Nadella

Yes. The statement I made about bringing together our productivity applications across work and life is to really reflect the notion of dual use because when I think about productivity it doesn’t separate out what I use as a tool for communication with my family and what I use to collaborate at work. So that’s why having this one team that thinks about outlook.com as well as Exchange helps us think about those dual use. Same thing with files and OneDrive and OneDrive for business because we want to have the software have the smart about separating out the state carrying about IT control and data protection while me as an end user get to have the experiences that I want. That’s how we are thinking about harmonizing those digital life and work experiences.

On the hardware side, we would continue to build hardware that fits with these experiences if I understand your question right, which is how will be differentiate our first party hardware, we will build first party hardware that’s creating category, a good example is what we have done with Surface Pro 3. And in other places where we have really changed the Windows business model to encourage a plethora of OEMs to build great hardware and we are seeing that in fact in this holiday season, I think you will see a lot of value notebooks, you will see clamshells. So we will have the full price range of our hardware offering enabled by this new windows business model.

And I think the last part was how will we monetize? Of course, we will again have a combination, we will have our OEM monetization and some of these new business models are about monetizing on the backend with Bing integration as well as our services attached and that’s the reason fundamentally why we have these zero-priced Windows SKUs today.

Microsoft BUILD 2014 Day 2: “rebranding” to Microsoft Azure and moving toward a comprehensive set of fully-integrated backend services

  1. “Rebranding” into Microsoft Azure from the previous Windows Azure
  2. Microsoft Azure Momentum on the Market
  3. The new Azure Management Portal (preview)
  4. New Azure features: IaaS, web, mobile and data announcements

Microsoft Announces New Features for Cloud Computing Service [CCTV America YouTube channel, April 3, 2014]

Day two of the Microsoft Build developer conference in San Francisco wrapped up with the company announcing 44 new services. Most of those are based on Microsoft Azure – it’s cloud computing platform that manages applications across data centers. CCTV’s Mark Niu reports from San Francisco.

Watch the first 10 minutes of this presentation for a brief summary of the latest state of Microsoft Azure: #ChefConf 2014: Mark Russinovich, “Microsoft Azure Group” [Chef YouTube channel, April 16, 2014]

Mark Russinovich is a Technical Fellow in the Windows Azure Group at Microsoft working on Microsoft’s cloud platform. He is a widely recognized expert in operating systems, distributed systems, and cybersecurity. In this keynote from #ChefConf 2014, he gives an overview of Microsoft Azure and a demonstration of the integration between Azure and Chef

Then here is a fast talk and Q&A on Azure with Scott Guthrie after his keynote preseantation at BUILD 2014:
Cloud Cover Live – Ask the Gu! [jlongo62 YouTube channel, published on April 21, 2014]

With Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group

The original: Cloud Cover Live – Ask the Gu! [Channel 9, April 3, 2014]

Details:

  1. “Rebranding” into Microsoft Azure from the previous Windows Azure
  2. Microsoft Azure Momentum on the Market
  3. The new Azure Management Portal (preview)
  4. New Azure features: IaaS, web, mobile and data announcements

[2:45:47] long video record of the Microsoft Build Conference 2014 Day 2 Keynote [MSFT Technology News YouTube channel, recorded on April 3, published on April 7, 2014]

Keynote – April 2-4, 2014 San Francisco, CA 8:30AM to 11:30AM

The original video record on Channel 9
Day 2 Keynote transcript by Microsoft


1. “Rebranding” into Microsoft Azure from the previous Windows Azure

Yes, you’ve noticed right: the Windows prefix has gone, and the full name is now only Microsoft Azure! The change happened on April 3 as evidenced by change of the cover photo on the Facebook site, now also called Microsoft Azure:

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from this cover photo used from July 23, 2013 on:

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And it happened without any announcement or explanation as even the last, April 1 Microsoft video carried the Windows prefix: Tuesdays with Corey //build Edition

We can’t believe he said that! This week, Corey gets us in trouble by spilling all sorts of //build secrets. Check it out!

as well as the last, March 14 video ad: Get Your Big Bad Wolf On (Extended)

Go get your big bad wolf on, today: http://po.st/01rkCL


2. Microsoft Azure Momentum on the Market

The day began with Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group, touting Microsoft progress with Azure for the last 18 months when:

… we talked about our new strategy with Azure and our new approach, a strategy that enables me to use both infrastructure as a service and platform as a service capabilities together, a strategy that enables developers to use the best of the Windows ecosystem and the best of the Linux ecosystem together, and one that delivers unparalleled developer productivity and enables you to build great applications and services that work with every device

  • Last year … shipped more than 300 significant new features and releases
  • … we’ve also been hard at work expanding the footprint of Azure around the world. The green circles you see on the slide here represent Azure regions, which are clusters of datacenters close together, and where you can go ahead and run your application code. Just last week, we opened two new regions, one in Shanghai and one in Beijing. Today, we’re the only global, major cloud provider that operates in mainland China. And by the end of the year, we’ll have more than 16 public regions available around the world, enabling you to run your applications closer to your customers than ever before.
  • More than 57 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are now deployed on Azure.
  • Customers run more than 250,000 public-facing websites on Azure, and we now host more than 1 million SQL databases on Azure.
  • More than 20 trillion objects are now stored in the Azure storage system. We have more than 300 million users, many of them — most of them, actually, enterprise users, registered with Azure Active Directory, and we process now more than 13 billion authentications per week.
  • We have now more than 1 million developers registered with our Visual Studio Online service, which is a new service we launched just last November.

Let’s go beyond the big numbers, though, and look at some of the great experiences that have recently launched and are using the full power of Azure and the cloud.

Titanfall” was one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the year, and had a very successful launch a few weeks ago. “Titanfall” delivers an unparalleled multiplayer gaming experience, powered using Azure.

Let’s see a video of it in action, and hear what the developers who built it have to say.

[Titanfall and the Power of the Cloud [xbox YouTube channel, April 3, 2014]]

‘Developers from Respawn Studios and Xbox discuss how cloud computing helps take Titanfall to the next level.

One of the key bets the developers of “Titanfall” made was for all game sessions on the cloud. In fact, you can’t play the game without the cloud, and that bet really paid off.

As you heard in the video, it enables much, much richer gaming experiences. Much richer AI experiences. And the ability to tune and adapt the game as more users use it.

To give you a taste of the scale, “Titanfall” had more than 100,000 virtual machines deployed and running on Azure on launch day. Which is sort of an unparalleled size in terms of a game launch experience, and the reviews of the game have been absolutely phenomenal.

Another amazing experience that recently launched and was powered using Azure was the Sochi Olympics delivered by NBC Sports.

NBC used Azure to stream all of the games both live and on demand to both Web and mobile devices. This was the first large-scale live event that was delivered entirely in the cloud with all of the streaming and encoding happening using Azure.

Traditionally, with live encoding, you typically run in an on-premises environment because it’s so latency dependent. With the Sochi Olympics, Azure enabled NBC to not only live encode in the cloud, but also do it across multiple Azure regions to deliver high-availability redundancy.

More than 100 million people watched the online experience, and more than 2.1 million viewers alone watched it concurrently during the U.S. versus Canada men’s hockey match, a new world record for online HD streaming.

RICK CORDELLA [Senior Vice President and General Manager of NBC Sports Digital]: The company bets about $1 billion on the Olympics each time it goes off. And we have 17 days to recoup that investment. Needless to say, there is no safety net when it comes to putting this content out there for America to enjoy. We need to make sure that content is out there, that it’s quality, that our advertisers and advertisements are being delivered to it. There really is no going back if something goes wrong.

The decision for that was taken more than a year ago: Windows Azure Teams Up With NBC Sports Group [Microsoft Azure YouTube channel, April 9, 2013]

Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager of digital media at NBC Sports Group discusses how they use Windows Azure across their digital platforms


3. The new Azure Management Portal (preview)

But in fact a new way of providing a comprehensive set of fully-integrated backend services had significantly bigger impact on the audience of developers. According to Microsoft announces new cloud experience and tools to deliver the cloud without complexity [The Official Microsoft Blog, April 3, 2014]

The following post is from Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft.

On Thursday at Build in San Francisco, we took an important step by unveiling a first-of-its kind cloud environment within Microsoft Azure that provides a fully integrated cloud experience – bringing together cross-platform technologies, services and tools that enable developers and businesses to innovate with enterprise-grade scalability at startup speed. Announced today, our new Microsoft Azure Preview [Management]Portal is an important step forward in delivering our promise of the cloud without complexity.

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When cloud computing was born, it was hailed as the solution that developers and business had been waiting for – the promise of a quick and easy way to get more from your business-critical apps without the hassle and cost of infrastructure. But as the industry transitions toward mobile-first, cloud-first business models and scenarios, the promise of “quick and easy” is now at stake. There’s no question that developing for a world that is both mobile-first and cloud-first is complicated. Developers are managing thousands of virtual machines, cobbling together management and automation solutions, and working in unfamiliar environments just to make their apps work in the cloud – driving down productivity as a result.

Many cloud vendors tout the ease and cost savings of the cloud, but they leave customers without the tools or capabilities to navigate the complex realities of cloud computing. That’s why today we are continuing down a path of rapid innovation. In addition to our groundbreaking new Microsoft Azure Preview [Management] Portal, we announced several enhancements our customers need to fully tap into the power of the cloud. These include:

  • Dozens of enhancements to our Azure services across Web, mobile, data and our infrastructure services
  • Further commitment to building the most open and flexible cloud with Azure support for automation software from Puppet Labs and Chef.
  • We’ve removed the throttle off our Application Insights preview, making it easier for all developers to build, manage and iterate on their apps in the cloud with seamless integration into the IDE

<For details see the separate section 4. New Azure features: IaaS, web, mobile and data announcements>

Here is a brief presentation by a Brazilian specialist: Microsoft Azure [Management] Portal First Touch [Bruno Vieira YouTube channel, April 3, 2014]

From Microsoft evolves the cloud experience for customers [press release, April 3, 2014]

… Thursday at Build 2014, Microsoft Corp. announced a first-of-its-kind cloud experience that brings together cross-platform technologies, services and tools, enabling developers and businesses to innovate at startup speed via a new Microsoft Azure Preview [Management] Portal.

In addition, the company announced several new milestones in Visual Studio Online and .NET that give developers access to the most complete platform and tools for building in the cloud. Thursday’s announcements are part of Microsoft’s broader vision to erase the boundaries of cloud development and operational management for customers.

“Developing for a mobile-first, cloud-first world is complicated, and Microsoft is working to simplify this world without sacrificing speed, choice, cost or quality,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president at Microsoft. “Imagine a world where infrastructure and platform services blend together in one seamless experience, so developers and IT professionals no longer have to work in disparate environments in the cloud. Microsoft has been rapidly innovating to solve this problem, and we have taken a big step toward that vision today.”

One simplified cloud experience

The new Microsoft Azure Preview [Management] Portal provides a fully integrated experience that will enable customers to develop and manage an application in one place, using the platform and tools of their choice. The new portal combines all the components of a cloud application into a single development and management experience. New components include the following:

  • Simplified Resource Management. Rather than managing standalone resources such as Microsoft Azure Web Sites, Visual Studio Projects or databases, customers can now create, manage and analyze their entire application as a single resource group in a unified, customized experience, greatly reducing complexity while enabling scale. Today, the new Azure Manager is also being released through the latest Azure SDK for customers to automate their deployment and management from any client or device.

  • Integrated billing. A new integrated billing experience enables developers and IT pros to take control of their costs and optimize their resources for maximum business advantage.

  • Gallery. A rich gallery of application and services from Microsoft and the open source community, this integrated marketplace of free and paid services enables customers to leverage the ecosystem to be more agile and productive.

  • Visual Studio Online. Microsoft announced key enhancements through the Microsoft Azure Preview [Management] Portal, available Thursday. This includes Team Projects supporting greater agility for application lifecycle management and the lightweight editor code-named “Monaco” for modifying and committing Web project code changes without leaving Azure. Also included is Application Insights, an analytics solution that collects telemetry data such as availability, performance and usage information to track an application’s health. Visual Studio integration enables developers to surface this data from new applications with a single click.

Building an open cloud ecosystem

Showcasing Microsoft’s commitment to choice and flexibility, the company announced new open source partnerships with Chef and Puppet Labs to run configuration management technologies in Azure Virtual Machines. Using these community-driven technologies, customers will now be able to more easily deploy and configure in the cloud. In addition, today Microsoft announced the release of Java Applications to Microsoft Azure Web Sites, giving Microsoft even broader support for Web applications.

From BUILD Day 2: Keynote Summary [by Steve Fox – DPE (MSFT) on MSDN Blogs, April 3, 2014]

….
Bill Staples then came on stage to show off the new Azure [management] portal design and features. Bill walked through a number of the new innovations in the portal, such as improved UX, app insights, “blade” views [the “blade” term is used for the dropdown that allows a drilldown], etc. A screen shot of the new portal is shown below.

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Bill also walked through the comprehensive analytics (such as compute and billing) that are now available on the portal. He also walked through “Application Insights,” which is a great way to instrument your code in both the portal and in your code with easy-to-use, pre-defined code snippets. He completed his demo walkthrough by showing the Azure [management] portal as a “NOC” [Network Operations Center] view on a big-screen TV.

image

The above image is at the [1:44:24] point in time of the keynote video record on Channel 9 and it is giving more information if we provide here the part of transcript around it:

BILL STAPLES at [1:43:39]: Now, to conclude the operations part of this demo, I wanted to show you an experience for how the new Azure Portal works on a different device. You’ve seen it on the desktop, but it works equally well on a tablet device, that is really touch friendly. Check it out on your Surface or your iPad, it works great on both devices.

But we’re thinking as well if you’ve got a big-screen TV or a projector lying around your team room, you might want to think about putting the Microsoft Azure portal as your own personal NOC.

In this case, I’ve asked the Office developer team if we could have access to their live site log. So they made me promise, do not hit the stop button or the delete button, which I promised to do.

[1:44:24] This is actually the Office developer log site. And you can see it’s got almost 10 million hits already today running on Azure Websites. So very high traffic.

They’ve customized it to show off the browser usage on their website. Imagine we’re in a team Scrum with the Office developer guys and we check out, you know, how is the website doing? We’ve got some interesting trends here.

In fact, there was a spike of sessions it looks like going on about a week ago. And page views, that’s kind of a small part. It would be nice to know which page it was that spiked a week ago. Let’s go ahead and customize that.

This screen is kind of special because it has touch screen. So I can go ahead and let’s make that automatically expand there. Now we see a bigger view. Wow, that was a really big spike last week. What page was that? We can click into it. We get the full navigation experience, same on the desktop, as well as, oh, look at that. There’s a really popular blog post that happened about a week ago. What was that? Something about announcing Office on the iPad you love. Makes sense, huh? So we can see the Azure Portal in action here as the Office developer team might imagine it. [1:45:44]

The last thing I want to show is the Azure Gallery.

image

We populated the gallery with all of the first-party Microsoft Azure services, as well as the [services from] great partners that we’ve worked with so far in creating this gallery.

image

And what you’re seeing right here is just the beginning. We’ve got the core set of DevOps experiences built out, as well as websites, SQL, and MySQL support. But over the coming months, we’ll be integrating all of the developer and IT services in Microsoft as well as the partner services into this experience.

Let me just conclude by reminding us what we’ve seen. We’ve seen a first-of-its-kind experience from Microsoft that fuses our world-class developer services together with Azure to provide an amazing dev-ops experience where you can enjoy the entire lifecycle from development, deployment, operations, gathering analytics, and iterating right here in one experience.

We’ve seen an application-centric experience that brings together all the dev platform and infrastructure services you know and love into one common shell. And we’ve seen a new application model that you can describe declaratively. And through the command line or programmatically, build out services in the cloud with tremendous ease. [1:47:12]

More information on the new Azure [Management] Portal:

Today, at Build, we unveiled a new Azure [Management] Portal experience we are building.  I want to give you some insights into the work that VS Online team is doing to help with it.  I’m not on the Azure team and am no expert on how they’d like to describe to the world, so please take any comments I make here about the new Azure portal as my perspective on it and not necessarily an official one.

Bill Staples first presented to me almost a year ago an idea of creating a new portal experience for Azure designed to be an optimal experience for DevOps.  It would provide everything a DevOps team needs to do modern cloud based development.  Capabilities to provision dev and test resources, development and collaboration capabilities, build, release and deployment capabilities, application telemetry and management capabilities and more.  Pretty quickly it became clear to me that if we could do it, it would be awesome.  An incredibly productive and easy way for devs to do soup to nuts app development.

What we demoed today (and made available via http://portal.azure.com”) is the first incarnation of that.  My team (the VS Online Team) has worked very hard over the past many months with the Azure team to build the beginnings of the experience we hope to bring to you.  It’s very early and it’s nowhere near done but it’s definitely something we’d love to start getting some feedback on.

For now, it’s limited to Azure websites, SQL databases and a subset of the VS Online capabilities.  If you are a VS Online/TFS user, think of this as a companion to Visual Studio, Visual Studio Online and all of the tools you are used to.  When you create a team project in the Azure portal, it’s a VS Online Team Project like any other and is accessible from the Azure portal, the VS Online web UI, Visual Studio, Eclipse and all the other ways your Visual Studio Online assets are available.  For now, though, there are a few limitations – which we are working hard to address.  We are in the middle of adding Azure Active Directory support to Visual Studio Online and, for a variety of reasons, chose to limit the new portal to only work with VS Online accounts linked to Azure Active Directory.

The best way to ensure this is just to create a new Team Project and a new VS Online account from within the new Azure portal.  You will need to be logged in to the Azure portal with an identity known to your Azure Active Directory tenant and to add new users, rather than add them directly in Visual Studio Online, you will add them through Azure Active directory.  One of the ramifications of this, for now, is that you can’t use an existing VS Online account in the new portal – you must create a new one.  Clearly that’s a big limitation and one we are working hard to remove.  We will enable you to link existing VS Online accounts to Active Directory we just don’t have it yet – stay tuned.

I’ll do a very simple tour.  You can also watch Brian Keller’s Channel9 video.

Brian Keller talks with Jonah Sterling and Vishal Joshi about the new Microsoft Azure portal preview. This Preview portal is a big step forward in the journey toward integrated DevOps tools, technologies, and cloud services. See how you can deliver and scale business-ready apps for every platform more easily and rapidly—using what you already know and whatever toolset you like most

Further information:


4. New Azure features: IaaS, web, mobile and data announcements

According to Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise group:

image

[IaaS] First up, let’s look at some of the improvements we’re making with our infrastructure features and some of the great things we’re enabling with virtual machines.

Azure enables you to run both Windows and Linux virtual machines in the cloud. You can run them as stand-alone servers, or join them together to a virtual network, including one that you can optionally bridge to an on-premises networking environment.

This week, we’re making it even easier for developers to create and manage virtual machines in Visual Studio without having to leave the VS IDE: You can now create, destroy, manage and debug any number of VMs in the cloud. (Applause.)

Prior to today, it was possible to create reusable VM image templates, but you had to write scripts and manually attach things like storage drives to them. Today, we’re releasing support that makes it super-easy to capture images that can contain any number of storage drives. Once you have this image, you can then very easily take it and create any number of VM instances from it, really fast, and really easy. (Applause.)

Starting today, you can also now easily configure VM images using popular frameworks like Puppet, Chef, and our own PowerShell and VSD tools. These tools enable you to avoid having to create and manage lots of separate VM images. Instead, you can define common settings and functionality using modules that can cut across every type of VM you use.

You can also create modules that define role-specific behavior, and all these modules can be checked into source control and they can also then be deployed to a Puppet Master or Chef server.

And one of the things we’re doing this week is making it incredibly easy within Azure to basically spin up a server farm and be able to automatically deploy, provision and manage all of these machines using these popular tools.

We’re also excited to announce the general availability of our auto-scale service, as well as a bunch of great virtual networking capabilities including point-to-site VPN support going GA, new dynamic routing, subnet migration, as well as static internal IP address. And we think the combination of this really gives you a very flexible environment, as you saw, a very open environment, and lets you run pretty much any Windows or Linux workload in the cloud.

So we think infrastructure as a service is super-flexible, and it really kind of enables you to manage your environments however you want.


We also, though, provide prebuilt services and runtime environments that you can use to assemble your applications as well, and we call these platform as a service [PaaS] capabilities.

One of the benefits of these prebuilt services is that they enable you to focus on your application and not have to worry about the infrastructure underneath it.

We handle patching, load balancing, high availability and auto scale for you. And this enables you to work faster and do more.

What I want to do is just spend a little bit of time talking through some of these platform as a service capabilities, so we’re going to start talking about our Web functionality here today.

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[Web] One of the most popular PaaS services that we now have on Windows Azure is something we call the Azure Website Service. This enables you to very easily deploy Web applications written in a variety of different languages and host them in the cloud. We support .NET, NOJS, PHP, Python, and we’re excited this week to also announce that we’re adding Java language support as well.

image

This enables you as a developer to basically push any type of application into Azure into our runtime environment, and basically host it to any number of users in the cloud.

Couple of the great features we have with Azure include auto-scale capability. What this means is you can start off running your application, for example, in a single VM. As more load increases to it, we can then automatically scale up multiple VMs for you without you having to write any script or take any action yourself. And if you get a lot of load, we can scale up even more.

You can basically configure how many VMs you maximally want to use, as well as what the burn-down rate is. And as your traffic — and this is great because it enables you to not only handle large traffic spikes and make sure that your apps are always responsive, but the nice thing about auto scale is that when the traffic drops off, or maybe during the night when it’s a little bit less, we can automatically scale down the number of machines that you need, which means that you end up saving money and not having to pay as much.

One of the really cool features that we’ve recently introduced with websites is something we call our staging support. This solves kind of a pretty common problem with any Web app today, which is there’s always someone hitting it. And how do you stage the deployments of new code that you roll out so that you don’t ever have a site in an intermediate state and that you can actually deploy with confidence at any point in the day?

And what staging support enables inside of Azure is for you to create a new staging version of your Web app with a private URL that you can access and use to test. And this allows you to basically deploy your application to the staging environment, get it ready, test it out before you finally send users to it, and then basically you can push one button or send a single command called swap where we’ll basically rotate the incoming traffic from the old production site to the new staged version.

What’s nice is we still keep your old version around. So if you discover once you go live you still have a bug that you missed, you can always swap back to the previous state. Again, this allows you to deploy with a lot of confidence and make sure that your users are always seeing a consistent experience when they hit your app.

Another cool feature that we’ve recently introduced is a feature we call Web Jobs. And this enables you to run background tasks that are non-HTTP responsive that you can actually run in the background. So if it takes a while to run it, this is a great way you can offload that work so that you’re not stalling your actual request response thread pool.

Basically, you know, common scenario we see for a lot of people is if they want to process something in the background, when someone submits something, for example, to the website, they can go ahead and simply drop an item into a queue or into the storage account, respond back down to the user, and then with one of these Web jobs, you can very easily run background code that can pull that queue message and actually process it in an offline way.

And what’s nice about Web jobs is you can run them now in the same virtual machines that host your websites. What that means is you don’t have to spin up your own separate set of virtual machines, and again, enables you to save money and provides a really nice management experience for it.

The last cool feature that we’ve recently introduced is something we call traffic manager support. With Traffic Manager, you can take advantage of the fact that Azure runs around the world, and you can spin up multiple instances of your website in multiple different regions around the world with Azure.

What you can then do is use Traffic Manager so you can have a single DNS entry that you then map to the different instances around the world. And what Traffic Manager does is gives you a really nice way that you can actually automatically, for example, route all your North America users to one of the North American versions of your app, while people in Europe will go routed to the European version of your app. That gives you better performance, response and latency.

Traffic Manager is also smart enough so that if you ever have an issue with one of the instances of your app, it can automatically remove it from those rotations and send users to one of the other active apps within the system. So this gives you also a nice way you can fail over in the event of an outage.

And the great thing about Traffic Manager, now, is you can use it not just for virtual machines and cloud services, but we’ve also now enabled it to work fully with websites.

[From BUILD Day 2: Keynote Summary [by Steve Fox [MSFT] on MSDN Blogs, April 3, 2014]]
Scott then invited Mads Kristensen on stage to walk through a few of the features that Scott discussed at a higher level. Specifically, he walked through the new ASP.NET templates emphasizing the creation of the DB layer and then showing PowerShell integration to manage your web site. He then showed Angular integration with Azure Web sites, emphasizing easy and dynamic ways to update your site showing  deep browser and Visual Studio integration (Browser Link), showing updates that are made in the browser show up in the code in Visual Studio. Very cool!!
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He also showed how you can manage staging and production sites by using the “swap” functionality built into the Azure Web sites service. He also showed Web Jobs to show how you can also run background jobs and Traffic Manager functionality to ensure your customers have the best performing web site in their regions.

So as Mads showed, there are a lot of great features that we’re kind of unveiling this week. A lot of great announcements that go with it.

These include the general availability release of auto-scale support for websites, as well as the general availability release of our new Traffic Manager support for websites as well. As you saw there, we also have Web Job support, and one of the things that we didn’t get to demo which is also very cool is backup support so that automatically we can have both your content as well as your databases backed up when you run them in our Websites environment as well.

Lots of great improvements also coming in terms of from an offer perspective. One thing a lot of people have asked us for with Websites is the ability not only to use SSL, but to use SSL without having to pay for it. So one of the cool things that we’re adding with Websites and it goes live today is we’re including one IP address-based SSL certificate and five SNI-based SSL certificates at no additional cost to every Website instance. (Applause.)

Throughout the event here, you’re also going to hear a bunch of great sessions on some of the improvements we’re making to ASP.NET. In terms of from a Web framework perspective, we’ve got general availability release of ASP.NET MVC 5.1, Web API 2.1, Identity 2.0, as well as Web Pages 3.1 So a lot of great, new features to take advantage of.

As you saw Mads demo, a lot of great features inside Visual Studio including the ability every time you create an ASP.NET project now to automatically create an Azure Website as part of that flow. Remember, every Azure customer gets 10 free Azure Websites that you can use forever. So even if you’re not an MSDN customer, you can take advantage of that feature in order to set up a Web environment literally every time you create a new project. So pretty exciting stuff.

So that was one example of some of the PaaS capabilities that we have inside Azure.


[Mobile] I’m going to move now into the mobile space and talk about some of the great improvements that we’re making there as well.

One of the great things about Azure is the fact that it makes it really easy for you to build back ends for your mobile applications and devices. And one of the cool things you can do now is you can develop those back ends with both .NET as well as NOJS, and you can use Visual Studio or any other text editor on any other operating system to actually deploy those applications into Azure.

And once they’re deployed, we make it really easy for you to go ahead and connect them to any type of device out there in the world.

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Now, some of the great things you can do with this is take advantage of some of the features that we have, which provide very flexible data handling. So we have built-in support for Azure storage, as well as our SQL database, which is our PaaS database offering for relational databases, as well as take advantage of things like MongoDB and other popular NoSQL solutions.

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We support the ability not only to reply to messages that come to us, but also to push messages to devices as well. One of the cool features that Mobile Services can take advantage of — and it’s also available as a stand-alone feature — is something we call notification hubs. And this basically allows you to send a single message to a notification hub and then broadcast it to, in some cases, devices that might be registered to it.

We also support with Mobile Services a variety of flexible authentication options. So when we first launched mobile services, we added support for things like Facebook login, Google ID, Twitter ID, as well as Microsoft Accounts.

One of the things we’re excited to demo here today is Active Directory support as well. So this enables you to build new applications that you can target, for example, your employees or partners, to enable them to sign in using the same enterprise credentials that they use in an on-premises Active Directory environment.

What’s great is we’re using standard OAuth tokens as part of that. So once you authenticate, you can take that token, you can use it to also provide authorization access to your own custom back-end logic or data stores that you host inside Azure.

We’re also making it really easy so that you can also take that same token and you can use it to access Office 365 APIs and be able to integrate that user’s data as well as functionality inside your application as well.

The beauty about all of this is it works with any device. So whether it’s a Windows device or an iOS device or an Android device, you can go ahead and take advantage of this capability.

[From BUILD Day 2: Keynote Summary [by Steve Fox [MSFT] on MSDN Blogs, April 3, 2014]]
Yavor Georgiev then came on stage to walk through a Mobile Services demo. He showed off a new Mobile Services Visual Studio template, test pages with API docs, local and remote debugging capabilities, and a LOB app that enables Facilities departments to manage service requests—this showed off a lot of the core ASP.NET/MVC features along with a quick publish service to your Mobile Services service in Azure. Through this app, he showed how to use Active Directory to build the app—which prompts you to log into the app with your corp/AD credentials to use the app. He then showed how the app integrates with SharePoint/O365 such that the request leverages the SharePoint REST APIs to publish a doc to a Facilities doc repository. He also showed how you can re-use the core code through Xamarin to repurpose the code for iOS.
The app is shown here native in Visual Studio.

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This app view is the cross-platform build using Xamarin.

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Kudos to Yavor! This was an awesome demo that showcases how far Mobile Services has come in a short period of time—love the extensibility and the cross-platform capabilities. Very nice!

One of the things that kind of Yavor showed there is just sort of how easy it is now to build enterprise-grade mobile applications using Azure and Visual Studio.

And one of the key kind of lynchpins in terms of from a technology standpoint that really makes this possible is our Azure Active Directory Service. This basically provides an Active Directory in the cloud that you can use to authenticate any device. What makes it powerful is the fact that you can synchronize it with your existing on-premises Active Directory. And we support both synch options, including back to Windows Server 2003 instances, so it doesn’t even require a relatively new Windows Server, it works with anything you’ve got.

We also support a federate option as well if you want to use ADFS. Once you set that environment up, then all your users are available to be authenticated in the cloud and what’s great is we ship SDKs that work with all different types of devices, and enables you to integrate authentication into those applications. And so you don’t everyone have to have your back end hosted on Azure, you can take advantage of this capability to enable single sign-on with any enterprise credential.

And what’s great is once you get that token, that same token can then be used to program against Office 365 APIs as well as the other services across Microsoft. So this provides a really great opportunity not only for building enterprise line-of-business apps, but also for ISVs that want to be able to build SaaS solutions as well as mobile device apps that integrate and target enterprise customers as well.

[From BUILD Day 2: Keynote Summary [by Steve Fox [MSFT] on MSDN Blogs, April 3, 2014]]
Scott then invited Grant Peterson from DocuSign on stage to discuss how they are using Azure, who demoed AD integration with DocuSign’s iOS app. Nice!

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This is really huge for those of you building apps that are cross-platform but have big investments in AD and also provides you as developers a way to reach enterprise audiences.

So I think one of the things that’s pretty cool about that scenario is both the opportunity it offers every developer that wants to reach an enterprise audience. The great thing is all of those 300 million users that are in Azure Active Directory today and the millions of enterprises that have already federated with it are now available for you to build both mobile and Web applications against and be able to offer to them an enterprise-grade solution to all of your ISV-based applications.

That really kind of changes one of the biggest concerns that people end up having with enterprise apps with SaaS into a real asset where you can make it super-easy for them to go ahead and integrate and be able to do it from any device.

And one of the things you might have noticed there in the code that Grant showed was that it was actually all done on the client using Objective-C, and that’s because we have a new Azure Active Directory iOS SDK as well as an Android SDK in addition to our Windows SDK. And so you can use and integrate with Azure Active Directory from any device, any language, any tool.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the great mobile announcements that we’re making today. Yavor showed we now have .NET backend support, single sign-on with Active Directory.

One of the features we didn’t get a chance to show, but you can learn more about in the breakout talk is offline data sync. So we also now have built into Mobile Services the ability to sync and handle disconnected states with data. And then, obviously, the Visual Studio and remote debugging capabilities as well.

We’ve got not only the Azure SDKs for Azure Active Directory, but we also now have Office 365 API integration. We’re also really excited to announce the general availability or our Azure AD Premium release. This provides enterprises management capabilities that they can actually also use and integrate with your applications, and enables IT to also feel like they can trust the applications and the SaaS solutions that their users are using.

And then we have a bunch of great improvements with notification hubs including Kindle support as well as Visual Studio integration.

So a lot of great features. You can learn about all of them in the breakout talks this week.

So we’ve talked about Web, we’ve talked about mobile when we talk about PaaS.


[Data] I want to switch gears now and talk a little bit about data, which is pretty fundamental and integral to building any type of application.

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And with Azure, we support a variety of rich ways to handle data ranging from unstructured, semistructured, to relational. One of the most popular services you heard me talk about at the beginning of the talk is our SQL database story. We’ve got over a million SQL databases now hosted on Azure. And it’s a really easy way for you to spin up a database, and better yet, it’s a way that we then manage for you. So we do handle things like high availability and patching.

You don’t have to worry about that. Instead, you can focus on your application and really be productive.

We’ve got a whole bunch of great SQL improvements that we’re excited to announce this week. I’m going to walk through a couple of them real quickly.

One of them is we’re increasing the database size that we support with SQL databases. Previously, we only supported up to 150 gigs. We’re excited to announce that we’re increasing that to support 500 gigabytes going forward. And we’re also delivering a new 99.95 percent SLA as part of that. So this now enables you to run even bigger applications and be able to do it with high confidence in the cloud. (Applause.)

Another cool feature we’re adding is something we call Self-Service Restore. I don’t know if you ever worked on a database application where you’ve written code like this, hit go, and then suddenly had a very bad feeling because you realized you omitted the where clause and you just deleted your entire table. (Laughter.)

And sometimes you can go and hopefully you have backups. This is usually the point when you discover when you don’t have backups.

And one of the things that we built in as part of the Self-Service Restore feature is automatic backups for you. And we actually let you literally roll back the clock, and you can choose what time of the day you want to roll it back to. We save up to I think 31 days of backups. And you can basically rehydrate a new database based on whatever time of the day you wanted to actually restore from. And then, hopefully, your life ends up being a lot better than it started out.

This is just a built-in feature. You don’t have to turn it on. It’s just sort of built in, something you can take advantage of. (Applause.)

Another great feature that we’re building in is something we call active geo-replication. What this lets you do now is you can actually go ahead and run SQL databases in multiple Azure regions around the world. And you can set it up to automatically replicate your databases for you.

And this is basically an asynchronous replication. You can basically have your primary in rewrite mode, and then you can actually have your secondary and you can have multiple secondaries in read-only mode. So you can still actually be accessing the data in read-only mode elsewhere.

In the event that you have a catastrophic issue in, say, one region, say a natural disaster hits, you can go ahead and you can initiate the failover automatically to one of your secondary regions. This basically allows you to continue moving on without having to worry about data loss and gives you kind of a really nice, high-availability solution that you can take advantage of.

One of the things that’s nice about Azure’s regions is we try to make sure we have multiple regions in each geography. So, for example, we have two regions that are at least 500 miles away in Europe, and in North America, and similarly with Australia, Japan and China. And what that means is that you know if you do need to fail over, your data is never leaving the geo-political area that it’s based in. And if you’re hosted in Europe, you don’t have to worry about your data ever leaving Europe, similarly for the other geo-political entities that are out there.

So this gives you a way now with high confidence that you can store your data and know that you can fail over at any point in time.

In addition to some of these improvements with SQL databases, we also have a host of great improvements coming with HDInsight, which is our big data analytics engine. This runs standard Hadoop instance and runs it as a managed service, so we do all the patching and management for you.

We’re excited to announce the GA of Hadoop 2.2 support. We also have now .NET 4.5 installed and APIs available so you can now write your MapReduce jobs using .NET 4.5.

We’re also adding audit and operation history support, a bunch of great improvements with Hive, and we’re now Yarn-enabling the cluster so you can actually run more software on it as well.

And we’re also excited to announce a bunch of improvements in the storage space, including the general availability of our read-access geo-redundant storage option.

So we’ve kind of done a whole bunch of kind of deep dives into a whole bunch of the Azure features.

More information:

It has been a really busy last 10 days for the Azure team. This blog post quickly recaps a few of the significant enhancements we’ve made.  These include:

  • [Web] Web Sites: SSL included, Traffic Manager, Java Support, Basic Tier
  • [IaaS] Virtual Machines: Support for Chef and Puppet extensions, Basic Pricing tier for Compute Instances
  • [IaaS] Virtual Network: General Availability of DynamicRouting VPN Gateways and Point-to-Site VPN
  • [Mobile] Mobile Services: Preview of Visual Studio support for .NET, Azure Active Directory integration and Offline support;
  • [Mobile] Notification Hubs: Support for Kindle Fire devices and Visual Studio Server Explorer integration
  • [IaaS] [Web] Autoscale: General Availability release
  • [Data] Storage: General Availability release of Read Access Geo Redundant Storage
  • [Mobile] Active Directory Premium: General Availability release
  • Scheduler service: General Availability release
  • Automation: Preview release of new Azure Automation service

All of these improvements are now available to use immediately (note that some features are still in preview).  Below are more details about them:

… With the April updates to Microsoft Azure, Azure Web Sites offers a new pricing tier called Basic.  The Basic pricing tier is designated for production sites, supporting smaller sites, as well as development and testing scenarios. … Which pricing tier is right for me? … The new pricing tier is a great benefit to many customers, offering some high-end features at a reasonable cost. We hope this new offering will enable a better deployment for all of you.

Microsoft is launching support for Java-based web sites on Azure Web Sites.  This capability is intended to satisfy many common Java scenarios combined with the manageability and easy scaling options from Azure Web Sites.

The addition of Java is available immediately on all tiers for no additional cost.  It offers new possibilities to host your pre-existing Java web applications.  New Java web site development on Azure is easy using the Java Azure SDK which provides integration with Azure services.

With the latest release of Azure Web Sites and the new Azure Portal Preview we are introducing a new concept: Web Hosting Plans. A Web Hosting Plan (WHP) allows you to group and scale sites independently within a subscription.

Microsoft Azure offers load balancing services for [IaaS] virtual machines (IaaS) and [Webcloud services (PaaS) hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Load balancing allows your application to scale and provides resiliency to application failures among other benefits.

The load balancing services can be accessed by specifying input endpoints on your services either via the Microsoft Azure Portal or via the service model of your application. Once a hosted service with one or more input endpoints is deployed in Microsoft Azure, it automatically configures the load balancing services offered by Microsoft Azure platform. To get the benefit of resiliency / redundancy of your services, you need to have at least two virtual machines serving the same endpoint.

The web marches on, and so does Visual Studio and ASP.NET, with a renewed commitment to making a great IDE for web developers of all kinds. Join Scott & Scott for this dive into VS2013 Update 2 and beyond. We’ll see new features in ASP.NET, new ideas in front end web development, as well as a peek into ASP.NET’s future.

When creating a Azure Mobile Service, a Notification Hub is automatically created as well enabling large scale push notifications to devices across any mobile platform (Android, iOS, Windows Store apps, and Windows Phone). For a background on Notification Hubs, see this overview as well as these tutorials and guides, and Scott Guthrie’s blog Broadcast push notifications to millions of mobile devices using Windows Azure Notification Hubs.

Let’s look at how devices register for notification and how to send notifications to registered devices using the .NET backend.

New tiers improve customer experience and provide more business continuity options

To better serve your needs for more flexibility, Microsoft Azure SQL Database is adding new service tiers, Basic and Standard, to work alongside its Premium tier, which is currently in preview. Together these service tiers will help you more easily support the needs of database workloads and application patterns built on Microsoft Azure. … Previews for all three tiers are available today.

The Basic, Standard, and Premium tiers are designed to deliver more predictable performance for light-weight to heavy-weight transactional application demands. Additionally, the new tiers offer a spectrum of business continuity features, a [Data] stronger uptime SLA at 99.95%, and larger database sizes up to 500 GB for less cost. The new tiers will also help remove costly workarounds and offer an improved billing experience for you.

… [Data] Active Geo-Replication: …

… [Data] Self-service Restore: …

Stay tuned to the Azure blog for more details on SQL Database later this month!

Also, if you haven’t tried Azure SQL Database yet, it’s a great time to start and try the Premium tier! Learn more today!

Azure HDInsight now supports [Data] Hadoop 2.2 with HDInsight cluster version 3.0 and takes full advantage of these platform to provide a range of significant benefits to customers. These include, most notably:

  • Microsoft Avro Library: …
  • [Data] YARN: A new, general-purpose, distributed, application management framework that has replaced the classic Apache Hadoop MapReduce framework for processing data in Hadoop clusters. It effectively serves as the Hadoop operating system, and takes Hadoop from a single-use data platform for batch processing to a multi-use platform that enables batch, interactive, online and stream processing. This new management framework improves scalability and cluster utilization according to criteria such as capacity guarantees, fairness, and service-level agreements.

  • High Availability: …

  • [Data] Hive performance: Order of magnitude improvements to Hive query response times (up to 40x) and to data compression (up to 80%) using the Optimized Row Columnar (ORC) format.

  • Pig, Sqoop, Qozie, Ambari: …

Microsoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers

Quartely Highlights (from Earnings Call Slides):

Cloud momentum helps drive Q3 results

  • Outstanding momentum and results in our cloud services; total Commercial Cloud revenue more than doubled again this quarter
  • Office 365 Home currently has 4.4 million subscribers, adding nearly one million new users this quarter
  • Windows remained the platform of choice for business users, with double-digit increases in both Windows OEM Pro and Windows Volume Licensing revenue
  • With focus on spend prioritization, we grew our operating expenses only 2%, contributing to solid earnings growth

Microsoft CEO offer bright future [‘Saxo TV – TradingFloor.com’ YouTube channel, April 25, 2014]

Willing to change, that was the message new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was pushing as the firm released third quarter earnings.

Microsoft beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations, driving the company’s stock price up 3 percent on Thursday after earnings were released. Growth came from the company’s surface tablet sales and commercial business sector, according to Norman Young, Senior Equity Analyst at Morningstar. Results were also aided by a less severe decline in the PC industry.

Young believes the company has already demonstrated continued growth for the fourth quarter and remains optimistic about the company’s new direction.

Nadella is shifting the traditionally PC focused company towards more mobile and cloud based technology. On the quarterly call with Wall Street he said, “What you can expect of Microsoft is courage in the face of reality; we will approach our future with a challenger mindset; we will be bold in our innovation.” Analysts are excited about the company’s future trajectory as he continues to push Microsoft’s business into the mobile and cloud computing world.

The company’s stock has increased 8 percent since Nadella assumed the role of CEO in February.

From Earnings Release FY14 Q3 [April 24, 2014]

“This quarter’s results demonstrate the strength of our business, as well as the opportunities we see in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. We are making good progress in our consumer services like Bing and Office 365 Home, and our commercial customers continue to embrace our cloud solutions. Both position us well for long-term growth,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “We are focused on executing rapidly and delivering bold, innovative products that people love to use.”

Devices and Consumer revenue grew 12% to $8.30 billion.

  • Windows OEM revenue grew 4%, driven by strong 19% growth in Windows OEM Pro revenue.
  • Office 365 Home now has 4.4 million subscribers, adding nearly 1 million subscribers in just three months.
  • Microsoft sold in 2.0 million Xbox console units, including 1.2 million Xbox One consoles.
  • Surface revenue grew over 50% to approximately $500 million.
  • Bing U.S. search share grew to 18.6% and search advertising revenue grew 38%.

Commercial revenue grew 7% to $12.23 billion.

  • Office 365 revenue grew over 100%, and commercial seats nearly doubled, demonstrating strong enterprise momentum for Microsoft’s cloud productivity solutions.
  • Azure revenue grew over 150%, and the company has announced more than 40 new features that make the Azure platform more attractive to cloud application developers.
  • Windows volume licensing revenue grew 11%, as business customers continue to make Windows their platform of choice.
  • Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange, our productivity server offerings, collectively grew double-digits.

From Microsoft’s CEO Discusses F3Q 2014 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, April 25, 2014]

From the prepared comments: “This quarter we continued our rapid cadence of innovation and announced a range of new services and features in three key areas – data, cloud, and mobility. SQL Server 2014 helps improve overall performance, and with Power BI, provides an end-to-end solution from data to analytics. Microsoft Azure preview portal provides a fully integrated cloud experience. The Enterprise Mobility Suite provides IT with a comprehensive cloud solution to support bring-your-own-device scenarios. These offerings help businesses convert big data into ambient intelligence, developers more efficiently build and run cloud solutions, and IT manage enterprise mobility with ease.”

Satya Nadella – Chief Executive Officer:

As I have told our employees, our industry does not respect tradition, it only respects innovation. This applies to us and everyone else. When I think about our industry over the next 5, 10 years, I see a world where computing is more ubiquitous and all experiences are powered by ambient intelligence. Silicon, hardware systems and software will co-evolve together and give birth to a variety of new form factors. Nearly everything we do will become more digitized, our interactions with other people, with machines and between machines. The ability to reason over and draw insights from everything that’s been digitized will improve the fidelity of our daily experiences and interactions. This is the mobile-first and cloud-first world. It’s a rich canvas for innovation and a great growth opportunity for Microsoft across all our customer segments.

To thrive we will continue to zero in on the things customers really value and Microsoft can uniquely deliver. We want to build products that people love to use. And as a result, you will see us increasingly focus on usage as the leading indicator of long-term success.

  • advancing Office, Windows and our data platform
  • continue to invest in our cloud capabilities including Office 365 and Azure in the fast growing SaaS and cloud platform markets
  • ensuring that our cloud services are available across all device platforms that people use
  • delivering a cloud for everyone on every device
  • have bold plans to move Windows forward:
    – investing and innovating in every dimension from form-factor to software experiences to price
    – Windows platform is unique in how it brings together consistent end user experiences across small to large screens, broadest platform opportunity for developers and control and assurance for IT
    – enhance our device capabilities with the addition of Nokia’s talented people and their depth in mobile technologies
  • our vision is about being going boldly into this mobile-first, cloud-first world

So this mobile-first cloud-first thing is a pretty deep thing for us. When we say mobile-first, in fact what we mean by that is mobility first. We think about users and their experiences spanning a variety of devices. So it’s not about any one form factor that may have some share position today, but as we look to the future, what are the set of experiences across devices, some ours and some not ours that we can power through experiences that we can create uniquely. …

… When you think about mobility first, that means you need to have really deep understanding of all the mobile scenarios for everything from how communications happen, how meetings occur. And those require us to build new capability. We will do some of this organically, some of it inorganically.

A good example of this is what we have done with Nokia. So we will – obviously we are looking forward to that team joining us building on the capability and then execution, even in the last three weeks or so we have announced a bunch of things where we talked about this one cloud for everyone and every device. We talked about how our data platform is going to enable this data culture, which is in fact fundamentally changing how Microsoft itself works.

We always talked about what it means to think about Windows, especially with the launch of this universal Windows application model. How different it is now to think about Windows as one family, which was not true before, but now we have a very different way to think about it.

[Re: Microsoft transition to more of a subscription business]

The way I look at it … we are well on our way to making that transition, in terms of moving from pure licenses to long-term contracts and as well as subscription business model. So when you talked about Platform-as-a-Service if you look at our commercial cloud it’s made up of the platform itself which is Azure. We also have a SaaS business in Office 365.

Now, one of the things that we want to make sure we look at is each of the constituent parts because the margin profile on each one of these things is going to different. The infrastructure elements right now in particular is going to have different economics versus some of the per-user applications in a SaaS mode have. It’s the blending of all of that that matters and the growth of that matters to us the most in this time where I think there is just a couple of us really playing in this market. I mean this is gold rush time in some sense of being able to capitalize on the opportunity.

And when it comes to that we have some of the best, the broadest SaaS solution and the broadest platform solution and that combination of those assets doesn’t come often. So what we are very focused on is how do we make sure we get our customer aggressively into this, having them use our service, be successful with it. And then there will be a blended set of margins across even just our cloud. And what matters to me in the long run is the magnitude of profit we generate given a lot of categories are going to be merged as this transition happens. And we have to be able to actively participate in it and drive profit growth.

From the prepared comments: “Office Commercial revenue was up 6%, driven by Office 365 as customers transitioned to our cloud productivity services. Office 365 revenue grew over 100%, and seats nearly doubled as well. Our productivity server offerings continue to perform well, with Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange, collectively growing double-digits.

… to me the Office 365 growth is in fact driving our enterprise infrastructure growth which is driving Azure growth and that cycle to me is most exciting. So that’s one of the reasons why I want to have to keep indexing on the usage of all of this and the growth numbers you see is a reflection of that.

[Background from him in the call:] Office 365 I am really, really excited about what’s happening there, which is to me this is the core engine that’s driving a lot of our cloud adoption and you see it in the numbers and Amy will talk more about the numbers. But one of the fundamental things its also doing is it’s actually a SaaS application and it’s also an architecture for enterprises. And one of the most salient things we announced when we talked about the cloud for everyone and every device and we talked about Office 365 having now iPad apps, we also launched something called the enterprise mobility suite which is perhaps one of the most strategic things during that day that we announced which was that we now have a consistent and deep platform for identity management which by the way gets bootstrapped every time Office 365 users sign up, device management and data protection, which is really what every enterprise customer needs in a mobile-first world, in a world where you have SaaS application adoption and you have BYOD or bring your own devices happening.

[Re #1: about the new world in terms of more usage and more software driven rather than device driven, and the reengagement with the developer community in that world]

Developers are very, very important to us. If you’re in the platform business which we’re on both on the device side as well as on the cloud side, developers and their ability to create new value props and new applications on them is sort of likes itself. I would say couple of things.

on the cloud side, in fact one of the most strategic APIs is the Office API. If you think about building an application for iOS, if you want single sign-on for any enterprise application, it’s the Azure AD single sign-on. That’s one of the things that we showed at Build, which is how to take advantage of list data in Sharepoint, contact information in Exchange, Azure active directory information for log-on. And those are the APIs that are very, very powerful APIs and unique to us. And they expand the opportunity for developers to reach into the enterprises. And then of course Azure is a full platform, which is very attractive to developers. So that gives you a flavor for how important developers are and what your opportunities are.

From the prepared comments: “Devices and Consumer Other revenue grew 18% to $1.95 billion, driven by search advertising and our Office 365 Home service. Search revenue grew 38%, offset by display [advertising] revenue which declined 24% this quarter. Gross margin grew 26% to $541 million. The combined revenue from Office 365 Home and Office Consumer, reported in the Devices & Consumer Licensing segment, grew 28%. … Office Consumer revenue increased 15% due to higher attach and strong sales in Japan, where we saw customers accelerate some purchases ahead of a national sales tax increase. Excluding that estimated impact, Office still outpaced the underlying consumer PC market.”

[Re: how you could potentially make what has been traditionally a unit model with Windows OEM revenue into something potentially more recurring in nature?]

… the thing I would add is this transition from one time let’s say licenses or device purchases to what is a recurring stream. You see that in a variety of different ways. You have back end subscriptions, in our case, there will be Office 365, there is advertising, there is the app store itself. So these are all things that attach to a device. And so we are definitely going to look to make sure that the value prop that we put together is going to be holistic in its nature and the monetization itself will be holistic and it will increase with the usage of the device across these services. And so that’s the approach we will take.

From the prepared comments: “Zero dollar licensing for sub 9-inch devices helps grow share and creates new opportunities to deliver our services, with minimal short term revenue impact

[Re: the recent decision to offer Windows for free for sub 9-inch devices and its impact of Microsoft share in that arena, about Windows pricing in general, the kind of play in different market segmentations, and how Windows pricing is evolving]

Overall, the way I want us to look at Windows going forward is what does it mean to have the broadest device family and ecosystem? Because at the end of the day it’s about the users and developer opportunity we create for the entirety of the family. That’s going to define the health of the ecosystem. So, to me, it matters that we approach the various segments that we now participate with Windows, because that’s what has happened. Fundamentally, we participated in the PC market. Now we are in a market that’s much bigger than the PC market. We continue to have healthy share, healthy pricing and in fact growth as we mentioned in the enterprise adoption of Windows.

And that’s we plan to in fact add more value, more management, more security, especially as things are changing in those segments. Given BYOD and software security issues, we want to be able to reinforce that core value, but then when it comes to new opportunities from wearables to internet of things, we want to be able to participate on all of this with our Windows offering, with our tools around it. And we want to be able to price by category. And that’s effectively what we did. We looked at what it makes – made sense for us to do on tablets and phones below 9 inches and we felt that the price there needed to be changed. We have monetization vehicles on the back end for those. And that’s how we are going to approach each one of these opportunities, because in a world of ubiquitous computing, we want Windows to be ubiquitous. That doesn’t mean its one price, one business model for all of that. And it’s actually a market expansion opportunity and that’s the way we are going to go execute on it.

From the prepared comments: “Our universal app development platform is a big step towards enabling developers to engage users across PCs, tablets, and phones with a common set of APIs

[Re #2: about the new world in terms of more usage and more software driven rather than device driven, and the reengagement with the developer community in that world]

Developers are very, very important to us. If you’re in the platform business which we’re on both on the device side as well as on the cloud side, developers and their ability to create new value props and new applications on them is sort of likes itself. I would say couple of things.

One is the announcements we made at Build on the device side is really our breakthrough worked for us which is we’re the only device platform today that has this notion of building universal apps with fantastic tooling around them. So that means you can target multiple of our devices and have common code across all of them. And this notion of having a Windows universal application help developers leverage them core asset, which is their core asset across this expanded opportunity is huge. There was this one user experience change that Terry Myerson talked about at Build, which expands the ability for anyone who puts up application in Windows Store to be now discovered across even the billion plus PC installed base. And so that’s I think a fantastic opportunity to developers and we are doing everything to make that opportunity clear and recruit developers to do more with Windows. And in that context, we will also support cross platforms. So this has been one of the things that we have done is the relationship with Unity. We have tooling that allows you to have this core library that’s portable. You can bring your code asset. In fact, we are the only client platform that has the abstractions available for the different languages and so on.

From the prepared comments: “Server product revenue grew 10%, driven by demand for our data platform, infrastructure and management offerings, and Azure.

  • SQL Server revenue grew more than 15%, and continued to outpace the data platform market; we continue to gain share in mission critical workloads
  • Windows Server Premium and System Center revenue showed continued strength from increased virtualization share and demand for hybrid infrastructure

[Re: about the factors that have enabled Microsoft to continue growing server business well above its peers, and whether that kind of 10% ish growth is sustainable over fiscal 2015]

It’s a pretty exciting change that’s happening, obviously it’s that part of the business is performing very well for a while now, but quite frankly it’s fundamentally changing. One of the questions I often get asked is hey how did Windows server and the hypervisor underneath it becomes so good so soon. You’ve been at it for a long time but there seems to have something fundamentally changed I mean we’ve grown a lot of share recently, the product is more capable than it ever was, the rate of change is different and for one reason alone which is we use it to run Azure. So the fact that we use our servers to run our cloud makes our servers more competitive for other people to build their own cloud.

So it’s the same trend that’s accelerating us on both sides. The other thing that’s happening is when we sell our server products they for most part are just not isolated anymore. They come with automatic cloud tiering. SQL server is a great example. We just launched a new version of SQL which is by far the best release of SQL in terms of its features like it’s exploitation of in-memory. It’s the first product in the database world that has in-memory for all the three workloads of databases, OLTP, data warehousing and BI. But more importantly it automatically gives you high availability which means a lot to every CIO and every enterprise deployment by actually tiering to the cloud.

From the prepared comments: “Commercial Other revenue grew 31%, to $1.90 billion, driven by Commercial Cloud revenue which exceeded our guidance as customers transitioned to our cloud solutions faster than expected; Gross margin increased 80% as we realized margin expansion through engineering efficiencies and continued scale benefits; Enterprise services revenue grew 8%

So those kinds of feature innovation which is pretty boundary less for us is breakthrough work. It’s not something that somebody who has been a traditional competitor of ours can do if you’re not even a first class producer of a public cloud service. So I think that we’re in a very unique place. Our ability to deliver this hybrid value proposition and be in a position, where we not only run a cloud service at scale, but we also provide the infrastructure underneath it as the server products to others. That’s what’s driving the growth. The shape of that growth and so on will change over time, but I feel very, very bullish about our ability to continue this innovation.

OneNote is available now on every platform (+free!!) and supported by cloud services API for application and device builders

This is preparing the ground for launching new overall business positioning as well as new cross-platform Microsoft strategy(IMHO) with Microsoft’s CEO may unveil Office for iPad on March 27: source [Reuters, March 17, 2014]

Investors for years have urged Microsoft to adapt Office for mobile devices from Apple and Google Inc, rather than shackling it to Windows as PC sales decline. But the Redmond, Washington-based software giant has been reluctant to undermine its other lucrative franchise, its PC operating software.

Microsoft gives up some $2.5 billion a year in revenue by keeping Office off the iPad, which has now sold almost 200 million units, analysts estimate.

Tech blog Re/code first reported news of Nadella’s event. Microsoft said in an invitation to reporters that Nadella will discuss “news related to the intersection of cloud and mobile but declined to comment on the specifics of the CEO’s appearance.

Microsoft has had iPad and iPhone versions of Office primed for several months now, sources told Reuters, but the company has dallied on their release due to internal divisions, among other things.

Although Nadella is expected to discuss his thinking in depth next week, the company has already signaled that it will adopt a more liberal attitude toward putting its software on different platforms.

Microsoft said earlier on Monday that it would make OneNote, its note-taking software, available on Mac, a move interpreted by observers as a shot against Evernote, the popular note-taking application that has both Mac and Android compatibility.

Aside from Evernote, Microsoft also faces budding challenges from startups that have released mobile-friendly alternatives to Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

The Evernote related action is already making the central Microsoft message really powerful: “Office 365 and OneNote has made me so much more efficient that I’m able to do a lot more”: Making Faster, Better Decisions (Extended Version) [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Meet Devin. Dedicated to helping others, Devin is working on faster, better ways to deliver medical treatments to people around the world. The information that he works with is complex, dense and endless, but he uses OnetNote to keep track of it all—and when all the pieces fit together, the result can be magical. See how he uses OneNote to make it happen.

OneNote now on Mac, free everywhere, and service powered [Office Blogs, March 17, 2014]

– David Rasmussen, Partner Group Program Manager (on behalf of the whole OneNote team who worked hard to bring you this)

When we started OneNote we set out to revolutionize the way people capture, annotate, and recall all the ideas, thoughts, snippets and plans in their life. As many of you have attested, OneNote is the ultimate extension for your brain, but it’s not complete if it’s not instantly available everywhere. We’ve already made a lot of progress in that direction with our mobile, tablet and online web experiences. But there was still a gap. People frequently asked us for OneNote on Mac, and for more ways to capture content.

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[Check out the new OneNote for iPad, iPhone and Android [July 1, 2013]]

[iPhone: OneNote for iPhone Version 2.1.5: since Dec 10, 2013]

[iPad: OneNote for iPad Version 2.1.5: since Dec 10, 2013]

[Android: OneNote in Google play since Jan 8, 2014 as described in OneNote for Android update: Do more in less time [Dec 30, 2013]]

[Web: OneNote Online [on One Drive] since January 28, 2014 as per Use OneNote anywhere with the OneNote Web App]

Today we’re excited to complete that story with three major developments:

  1. OneNote for Mac is available for the first time and for free. With this, OneNote is now available on all the platforms you care about: PC, Mac, Windows tablets, Windows Phone, iPad, iPhone, Android and the Web. And they’re always in sync.
  2. OneNote is now free everywhere including the Windows PC desktop and Mac version because we want everyone to be able to use it. Premium features are available to paid customers.
  3. The OneNote service now provides a cloud API enabling any application to connect to it. This makes it easier than ever to capture ideas, information and inspirations from more applications and more places straight into OneNote, including:
  • OneNote Clipper for saving web pages to OneNote
  • me@onenote.com for emailing notes to OneNote
  • Office Lens for capturing documents and whiteboards with your Windows Phone
  • Sending blog and news articles [from the web] to OneNote from Feedly, News360 and Weave
  • Easy document scanning to OneNote with Brother, Doxie Go, Epson, and Neat [scanners]
  • Writing notes with pen and paper and sending them to OneNote with Livescribe
  • Mobile document scanning to OneNote with Genius Scan and JotNot [smartphone apps]
  • Having your physical notebooks scanned into OneNote with Mod Notebooks
  • Connecting your world to OneNote with IFTTT

Go to www.onenote.com to get OneNote for free for your Mac, PC or other devices, and try out the new OneNote service connected experiences.

OneNote: No Limits [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

OneNote is the ultimate extension for your brain. It’s now available everywhere and for free. Go to http://www.onenote.com to get OneNote for free on all your devices and try out the new OneNote service connected experiences.

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Mac users have made it loud and clear that you want the first class note-taking experience of OneNote on your Macs. Actually… really, really clear. We got LOTS of direct mails, forum posts, and tweets like these:

  • “Now, @msonenote needs to release the OS X version of OneNote and my life will be complete :)”
  • “Dear Microsoft – the new web OneNote is nice. A native Mac version would be better. By this afternoon please, I have work to do.”
  • “I own a Mac and I LOVE OneNote so for me having OneNote on my Mac would just rock my world.”
  • “I desperately want OneNote on my new Mac… I use OneNote on VMware Fusion… There is nothing remotely like it for Mac… I have just spent a week looking for anything that comes close.”

Okay, we got the message. Rocking worlds and making lives complete is a pretty high bar, and we’re sorry we missed your afternoon deadline, but we’ve been working away, and we’re excited to bring it to you today. And if you’re a Mac user who didn’t already know about OneNote, check out Introducing OneNote for Mac or just get started now by downloadingOneNote for Mac from the Mac App Store to see what your fellow Mac users are so excited about.

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People love OneNote 2013 on Windows. We want this awesome experience to be available to anybody, so we’ve created a free version! It’s designed for personal and school use, it’s totally ad-free and there’s no limit on how long you can use it because it’s not just a trial. For Office 365 and Office 2013 customers, we have premium features like SharePoint support, version history, Outlook integration and so on, but all the core OneNote application capabilities are available in the free version.

Everything you create in the free PC and Mac clients are synced to OneDrive, so you can access them from your phone and tablet too. Your Microsoft Account gives you 7GB of free storage with no monthly upload limit, so there’s plenty of room for everything you want to remember.

If you have an older version of OneNote or haven’t yet had a chance to use OneNote on your PC, get OneNote 2013 today at www.onenote.com.

OneNote service: Bringing OneNote to the apps you care about

OneNote is more than just syncing your content across all your devices. It’s now a hub for the applications and experiences you care about. By making it easy to send anything from any application to OneNote, it’s one more step towards becoming your digital memory. We’ve built some new experiences for this and we’ve worked with a bunch of partners to integrate it with their applications as well.

OneNote Clipper: The new OneNote Clipper lets you capture any web page in one click. The page is automatically put in your OneNote Quick Notes. It is available for Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Mac Safari.

Send email to OneNote: Send a mail to me@onenote.com and we’ll save it into your OneNote Quick Notes. Forward a receipt from your inbox or send a web link from your phone to me@onenote.com.

Office Lens: Office Lens is a Windows Phone app that’s like having a scanner in your pocket. Take a picture of a whiteboard, document, business card, or anything. Office Lens will enhance the image and put it into your OneNote Quick Notes. We’ll recognize the text so you can search for your scans.

Partner apps and devices: We want to make it easy to remember things from anywhere, not just Microsoft apps. So we’ve been working with several key partners to let you do that. You can use these great apps and devices to get anything into OneNote today: Brother, Doxie Go, Epson, Feedly, Genius Scan, IFTTT, JotNot, Livescribe, Mod Notebook, News360 and Weave. Check them all out at www.onenote.com/apps

We also have several more exciting partner experiences coming soon including Neat. If you’d like to make your app, device or service work with OneNote, visit our developer portal at http://dev.onenote.com or check out the OneNote Dev Blog.

Learn more, ask questions

Along with these exciting releases we have some great free events this week.

  • OneNote for Mac 15-minute Webinar: Join Doug Thomas online to learn why OneNote rocks, how to use OneNote for Mac and have some fun. There will be Q&A with the team as well. You can join us for the OneNote for Mac Webinar on March 18 at 9:00am PST or you can watch the recording afterwards.
  • OneNote Twitter Q&A with Joe Block: We will be asking Joe Block, play-by-play broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers, about the upcoming baseball season, March Madness, and how he uses OneNote to track it all. To join us on Twitter follow@msonenote or @joe_block. The Q&A will start on March 18 at 9:30am PST.
  • OneNote reddit IAMA: If you still have questions for the OneNote team about OneNote, today’s announcements, our favorite color or anything at all – this is for you. Head on over to reddit on March 19 at 9:00am PST and ask the OneNote team anything!

It’s going to just keep getting better

Today is a huge step forward for OneNote. We’ve made it easier to use OneNote no matter what platform you’re on, and easier than ever to send anything into OneNote. But we’re not stopping here. We’re continually improving OneNote across our applications and service, and working with partners so you can take note of anything and keep it in your digital memory.

Go to www.onenote.com to get OneNote on all your devices and let us know what you think.

Introducing OneNote for Mac [by OneNote Team on Office Blogs, March 17, 2014]

Today we announced three major OneNote developments, including the first version of OneNote for Mac. We are very excited and proud to deliver this to you today.

We’ve seen the countless requests for a Mac client of OneNote, and we’ve been hard at work to deliver it. We’ve been counting the days to finally share with you that OneNote for Mac is now available and you can download it from the App Store for free today!

While you’re downloading the app, check out this video of OneNote for Mac.

Introducing OneNote for Mac [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Learn about OneNote for Mac, one place for all your digital notes. Learn more at: http://www.onenote.com

OneNote is your place to jot down your ideas, capture your collection of web clippings and research, plan your trips and events, check your to-dos and shopping lists and share your notes with friends and co-workers. It’s a single place to collect your thoughts and ideas, as well as an easy and fun way to stay organized.

Here are some of the main highlights of why we think you are going to love OneNote for Mac.

Create your notes as you wish

Similar to other Office for Mac applications, OneNote for Mac has the Ribbon user interface with a variety of options for formatting and styling your notes. Your notes can be styled however you like. You can choose that special font and color you like to use for your notes, or emphasize important content with bold, underline or highlights.

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Sometimes notes contain lists. Whether it’s an invitees list for a party, or the checklist you use for traveling, you can manage your lists using multiple levels of bullets and numbering, and with quick shortcut keys you can re-order, strikethrough, format and more. In addition, if you want to remember, flag or track specific items, you can choose from over 20 styles of tags, such as a To Do tag to check off completed items.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so we make it easy for you to insert pictures in your notes and place them anywhere on your page. And when your notes are best organized in a table, you can easily do so with a variety of table formatting options, such as cell shading colors.

One of the unique characteristics of a page in OneNote is that it’s an infinite canvas where you can lay out different note containers with different content types anywhere you like on the page.

image

Familiar notebook experience

Your notes are structured in each OneNote notebook with sections and pages similar to paper notebooks. You can create a separate notebook for each of the different projects or aspects of your life, such as work, family, school and travel notebooks.

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For instance, you can set up a travel notebook with a section for each of your upcoming trips. Each section can contain multiple pages for itinerary information, such as hotel research, flight options, sights to see and places to eat.

To help you easily find your notes and stay organized, you can re-arrange your notebook as you like, including dragging the pages and sections to change their order or location. And you can apply a color theme to sections to identify them at a glance.

Rest assured, you don’t have to remember where you placed each note. You can very quickly find any text, page, section or notebook by using search options.

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Share your notes with others

Whether you’re working on a school project or planning an event with friends, OneNote for Mac enables you to collaborate with others on the same notebook. It syncs changes to and from OneDrive seamlessly and fast so that you can see everyone else’s edits and they can see yours. We make it easy for you to identify the changes made in your shared notebook by displaying the names of the different authors next to their edits.

Or, if you want to just share a specific page in your notebook you can simply email that page to others.

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Your notes on all your favorite devices

We know how important it is for you to access your notes on all of your devices and for your notes to look exactly the same as you created them. Add a recipe to OneNote on your Mac, and you can view it on your iPhone in the grocery store. Research and plan a trip on your Mac at home and then easily access those same notes on your iPad during your trip.

All those notes you create on OneNote for Mac are synced to OneDrive and available to you on all your other OneNote clients, including OneNote for Windows desktop, Windows Store, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android and OneNote Online.

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These are only some of the highlights of OneNote for Mac—there’s so much more included in this version that we think you’ll enjoy. OneNote for Mac is compatible with Mac OS X 10.9 and above and you can download it for free from the App Store today. You can also visithttp://www.onenote.com to access all the different OneNote apps including a few exciting OneNote services available today that will enhance your web capturing experience on OneNote for Mac.

And this is just the beginning. We hope you enjoy this first version of OneNote for Mac and encourage you to keep the comments, ratings and feedback coming to help us make future OneNote updates even better.

OneNote Clipper: Clip the web, right to OneNote [by OneNote Team on Office Blogs, March 17, 2014]

Today we announced three major OneNote developments, including the OneNote Clipper, the easiest way to save anything on the web to OneNote with just one click. Think of it as your camera for the web, snapshotting any webpage you see directly into OneNote.

image

Researching for a big trip? Gathering recipes for an upcoming party? Collecting inspiration for a home makeover? The OneNote Clipper can help you do all of this quickly and easily. Watch the video below to see it in action.

OneNote Clipper: clip the web, right to OneNote [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Learn how to use the OneNote Clipper — the easiest way, to save anything you see on the web to OneNote, in just one click. Learn more at: http://www.onenote.com/clipper

Try out the OneNote Clipper now

To get started, use any major browser to visit www.onenote.com/clipper and follow the instructions to add the purple Clip to OneNote button to your Favorites bar. Congratulations, now you’re all set to start clipping the web to OneNote!

To clip, just browse to any webpage and click the Clip to OneNote button.

Once signed in, you’ll see the actual OneNote Clipper. The Clipper will let you know that it’s sending the page to OneNote, and when it’s finished, you can click the OneNote logo to immediately view your clip in OneNote Online.

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All of your clips are saved to the Quick Notes section of your default notebook on OneDrive — automatically accessible and fully searchable on all your devices.

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We hope you enjoy the OneNote Clipper. Please let us know in the comments if you have any feedback, we would love to hear from you. Happy clipping!

Email your notes into OneNote with me@onenote.com [by OneNote Team on Office Blogs, March 17, 2014]

Today we announced three major OneNote developments, including me@onenote.com.

One of our goals is to make it easy to get content into OneNote, no matter where you are or what app you’re using. me@onenote.com is a big step towards that goal.  Now, you can use any ‘Email this’ button to send content to OneNote.

Email to OneNote is a great way to forward receipts, travel itineraries or documents that you want to keep track of from your mailbox. If you’re on the run and want to send yourself a quick to do, it’s hard to get faster than writing up a quick mail. Or, if you’re in an app, and want to remember what you’re seeing, you can do so quickly by sharing via email.

me@onenote.com: email anything to OneNote [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Learn how to use me@onenote.com to get anything into OneNote. Learn more at: http://www.onenote.com

Try it out now

To get set up just visit the email settings page and select the addresses from which you would like OneNote to accept emailed content. You can also add any email addresses that are not already associated with your Microsoft account by using the link at the bottom of the settings page. If you don’t remember any of that, just send an email to me@onenote.com and we will email back with instructions.

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Now you’re ready to email content to OneNote quickly and easily! Please let us know in the comments if you have any feedback, we would love to hear from you.

Office Lens: A OneNote scanner for your pocket[by OneNote Team on Office Blogs, March 17, 2014]

Today we announced three major OneNote developments, including Office Lens, a neat new app in the Windows Phone Store.

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Office Lens is an app that’s like having a scanner in your pocket. You can use it to take pictures of things like business cards, restaurant menus, notes on whiteboards or blackboards — anything you want to keep on hand. But unlike loose sticky notes, business cards or sketches on lunch napkins, you won’t lose track of your ideas when you capture them with Office Lens. Even things like children’s artwork is fair game. Snap a picture of that one-of-a-kind card your child made and it’ll be at your fingertips whenever you’d like to see it.

Office Lens trims, enhances and makes pictures readable. Weird angles are straightened, shadows are cleaned up and the images are automatically synced to OneNote, so you can get to them on all your devices.

When your picture includes printed text, such as a poster or business card, OneNote on a PC can recognize the text with optical character recognition (OCR) so you can search for words in the image — and you can edit the text, or copy and paste it into apps like email and documents.

Office Lens has three modes, or settings, that help make your captures look their best:

  • With Whiteboard mode, glare and shadows disappear.
  • With Document mode, text is clear and easy to read.
  • With Photo mode, you can take pictures of people and scenery.

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Office Lens: Before and after

If you already have pictures on your phone, you can edit them in Office Lens and clean them up too. See how it works in the video below.

Office Lens: a OneNote scanner for your pocket [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Learn how to use Office Lens, a Windows Phone App, that is like having a OneNote scanner in your pocket. Learn more at: http://www.onenote.com\apps

Office Lens is free in the Windows Phone Store. Install it and try it out today.

Try Office Lens Now!

Please let us know in the comments or in the app store if you have any feedback. We would love to hear from you.

OneNote Featured Apps [OneNote site by Microsoft, March 17, 2014]

Get more out of OneNote with these apps and devices.

Brother [scanner] + OneNote: Better Together [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Learn how Brother scanners can help get content sent directly into OneNote. Learn more at http://www.onenote.com.

 

Doxie [scanner] + OneNote: Better Together [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Learn how Doxie can help get physical documents into OneNote. Learn more at http://www.onenote.com.
Brother Web Connection
Your Brother machine (MFP/Document scanner) can scan images and upload them to OneNote and OneDrive directly without going through a PC.

Get Started

Doxie Mobile Scanners
Doxie is a new kind of paper scanner that’s rechargeable, so you can scan documents anywhere – no computer required. Just charge it up and turn it on, wherever you are – insert your paper, receipts, and photos to scan, archive, and share. Doxie scans anywhere, then syncs to OneNote for access to all your scanned documents, on all your devices

Get Started

Email to OneNote
Capture the things that are important to you while you are on the go by emailing them directly to your notebook! Send documents, notes, itineraries, and so much more to me@onenote.com and we will put them into your OneNote notebook, where you can access them from all of your devices.

Get Started

Epson Document Capture Pro
Document Capture Pro allows you to easily scan documents, edit pages, save files, and transfer data to the applications scanned with Epson scanners such as the Workforce® DS-560 and others. What’s more, users can scan to OneNote with one touch, to easily access documents from multiple devices or share with others.

Workforce® DS-560

Feedly
Feedly focuses on making reading the web a little faster, better. The Feedly OneNote integration makes it easy for people to save great articles they found in their Feedly reader into their OneNote notebook.

Web

Genius Scan
Genius Scan is a scanner in your pocket. It enables you digitize paper documents, create PDF files and immediately store them in OneNote.
iOS     Android

IFTTT
IFTTT lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement – if this then that. Use the OneNote Channel on IFTTT to create and share recipes that automatically create pages, sync content, and connect over 80 other products and services.
iOS  Web

JotNot Scanner
JotNot converts your iPhone into a portable multipage scanner. You can use JotNot to scan documents, receipts, whiteboards, business cards and notes into an electronic format.?JotNot now offers direct integration with Microsoft’s OneNote platform, so you can quickly and easily backup and organize your scans using your OneNote account.

iOS

Livescribe 3 Smartpen
With the Livescribe 3 smartpen and Livescribe+ app, simply write on paper and watch everything appear instantly on your mobile device, where you can tag, search and convert your notes to text. You can send everything to OneNote so your handwritten notes and sketches are integrated with the rest of your important information.

iOS

Mod Notebooks
Mod notebooks are physical notebooks that are scanned, digitized and backed up to the cloud once completed. Each page of completed notebooks can be synced to OneNote and saved forever.?

Get Started

NeatConnect
NeatConnect transforms paper piles into digital documents and sends them straight to OneNote – without a computer. From any room in your house, or any spot in the office, NeatConnect’s Wi-Fi compatibility and touchscreen interface make scanning to OneNote fast and easy so you can save time, taking organization and productivity to whole new levels.
Coming soon!
News360
News360 is a free personalized news app that learns what you like and gets smarter the more you use it. With more than 100,000+ sources, there is always something interesting to read, and you can save your favorite stories directly to OneNote with a tap of a button.
Android   iOS   Windows   Windows Phone 
Office Lens
Office Lens is like having a scanner in your pocket. Never miss notes on a whiteboard or blackboard, and never look for misplaced documents or business cards, missing receipts or stray sticky notes again! Office Lens makes your pictures magically readable and re-useable. Capture content right into OneNote with automatic trimming and clean up.

Windows Phone

OneNote Clipper
The OneNote Clipper lets you save webpages from your browser into your OneNote notebooks. In just one click, it helps you capture things quickly and remember more in your life.

Web

Weave News Reader
Your news, personalized. Get the free Weave News Reader app for Windows 8 and start saving your favorite news articles to OneNote today!
Windows   Windows Phone

 

Feedly + OneNote: Better Together [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Learn how feedly can pull your favorite content into OneNote. Learn more at http://www.onenote.com

Genius Scan + OneNote: Better Together [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Learn how Genius Scan can help get beautifully cleaned up images into OneNote. Learn more at http://www.onenote.com.

Livescribe [smart pen] + OneNote: Better Together [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Learn how Livescribe can help blend the physical and digital world by pushing physical ink into OneNote. Learn more at http://www.onenote.com.

Weave + OneNote: Better Together [officevideos YouTube channel, March 17, 2014]

Learn how Weave can improve your reading experience by saving articles into OneNote. Learn more at http://www.onenote.com.

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

… 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]

Hello!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Descriptors/tags:

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.
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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.
Disclaimer:
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.

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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

MICROSOFT DEFINES THE CLOUD WITH ONE WORD – VALUE

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.

                  image

                  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.