Microsoft's enterprise cloud strategy begins to take shape

A wave of new offerings shows that Redmond is serious about dominating public and hybrid clouds

In case you had any doubt, Microsoft wants to be the enterprise cloud provider of choice, pushing aside the dominant Amazon Web Services. Microsoft is proving itself to be quite strong with Office 365 and other business-class offerings, while also growing its position with consumer services with Outlook.com, Xbox Live, and Bing.

Azure, Microsoft's global public cloud, is also seeing growth at a slow but steady pace, especially now that Microsoft has made Azure's pricing more attractive. And on Nov. 1, Microsoft will offer Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers a discount for Windows Azure, as well as drop penalties for overuse and provide other payment flexibilities.

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Satya Nadella, Microsoft's executive vice president for cloud and enterprise (a combination that speaks volumes about Redmond's ambitions), says Redmond's strategy is to focus on the three big concerns for the enterprise:

  • Have best-in-class first-party SaaS applications
  • Operate a global public cloud that supports a broad range of third parties
  • Deliver hybrid cloud capabilities that provide multicloud mobility

We'll see that third area addressed on Oct. 18 when Microsoft releases Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, which are designed to help IT build both better virtualization solutions and in-house clouds that also allow for better connectivity to cloud-based platforms for use in hybrid clouds. The connection to Azure is the key to these releases, and the Windows Azure Pack (which runs on top of Windows Server) is the connection needed to give service providers and others the ability to offer self-service options.

Another step in Microsoft's enterprise cloud path is the forthcoming second preview edition of SQL Server 2014, which will integrate with Windows Azure for cloud backup and disaster recovery. After that, Microsoft will release Windows Azure HDInsight Service, an Apache Hadoop-based service that will work with SQL, Excel, and PowerBI for Office 365.

Another exciting forthcoming release is the Microsoft Remote Desktop app for iOS, Android, and Windows RT, which will let mobile users access Windows desktops over the Internet, in an attempt to put Windows desktops back at the center of cloud-connected mobile computing.

This story, "Microsoft's enterprise cloud strategy begins to take shape," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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