Microsoft is firmly on the cloud computing bandwagon and with good reason -- it can make more money by doing so, even as it helps customers cut costs, business division head Stephen Elop said at the Convergence conference in Atlanta on Sunday.
The company has spent billions so far to build out its cloud infrastructure for massive economies of scale, Elop said during a meeting with press and analysts. "What we're doing is taking cost savings and taking them back to the customer."
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Microsoft will win out as well, Elop contended. Microsoft is not only selling applications via the cloud, but raw computing power and a development platform with its Azure service.
"What we've done [in the past] is sell software," Elop said. "In the cloud world we're still selling that same software but we're also participating in a bigger part of customers' IT budgets. We're going after more of the pot." Some 90 percent of Microsoft's engineering team will be working on cloud computing in some way within a couple of years, according to Elop.
Convergence is Microsoft's conference for its Dynamics ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) applications. It provides the main platform for company executives to speak directly to users of the software, as Dynamics products are mostly sold by partners.
Cloud computing places Microsoft and its customers "at the center of a remarkable transition in and around everything we do with technology," Elop said during a keynote address earlier Sunday. However, "the most important message is that we are committed to partnering with you through this period of generational change," he added.
Elop's keynote focused on how Microsoft has worked to integrate Dynamics software with other parts of its portfolio, such as Office and Unified Communications. The result is a cohesive stack that will save customers money and time, with the whole benefit "greater than the sum of the parts," he said.
In a demonstration, Microsoft showed how an audio equipment seller could analyze Dynamics ERP and CRM data with Excel and contact a supplier via videoconference to track the root cause of a defective speaker that was being returned too often by customers.
Later in the keynote, Microsoft revealed a glimpse at the potential role of multitouch computing in the Dynamics user experience.