What's up with Windows Azure ? 

Windows Azure is one of Microsoft's most important and strategic new products, yet few people know what it is, and even fewer understand its business value. 

The is a real problem.  Azure is basically Microsoft's take on cloud services, and it's essential platform for them as innovators like Amazon and Vmware convince more and more customers to move IT tasks to their could platforms and tools.   Having underperformed against more nimble rivals, Microsoft fired the Azure team, and is hoping that new blood will get the platform going.  That remains to be seen, but here are three things Microsoft can do to get this platform going.



Azure ?  Are you kidding me.  This has to be one of the worst product names since Microsoft BOB.  A total disaster.  Azure is a Windows / SQL / .NET related product, and they are going to have to find a marketing campaign that makes this clear.  And they are going to have to do so with a cool new name.

2.  ADD IaaS

In cloud terms infrastructure as a service (IaaS) basically means that you can provision a remote server.  It's one of the more basic functions you'll find in innovative cloud platforms like Amazon's EC2, but also one of the most essential.  And Microsoft doesn't offer it.  Think about that for a second:  if you want to provision a Windows 2008 Server, you have to go to Amazon (or GoGrid, of one of the other competitors) to get it.  Microsoft had better add IaaS, and they had better do it fast.  If they hope to catch up to the competition they had better offer it with more features, and a lower cost, than the competition.  I'd also suggest partnerships with Dell and HP to catch up in the Enterprise.  Really, it's beyond belief that Microsoft would cede leadership in Windows cloud servers, so let's hope they turn this around fast.

3.  Add Use Cases

While Azure is a fantastic technical platform, a lot of bright IT people still don't know what they're supposed to do with it.  Microsoft needs to do a better job of explaining how Azure can help customers.  They should focus on core IT functions (network, remote access, file storage, backup, etc), and articulate the best use cases for Azure in these areas. 


... We are really only at the beginning of the cloud build out, so Microsoft probably has time to catch up.  But with each passing month, Amazon, Google, and others, are adding more features, innovation, and value, so Microsoft has got to get moving.  Microsoft's Windows Servers have long been a mainstay in business computing, and so the cloud version of Windows Server is in some respect its "birth right".  We''ll see if Microsoft can actually step up to claim leadership, or if it will fall further behind its smaller, hungrier, and faster competitors.  




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