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Cloud dominates Microsoft partner conference

by Stuart Wilson, Monday 12 July 2010

Microsoft is using its worldwide partner conference this week to articulate its cloud-based future to more than 14,000 delegates. Microsoft is focusing on how the cloud will impact the role of the partner in delivering services to customers. Microsoft is promoting its new Windows Azure platform appliance and announced partnerships with eBay, Dell, HP and Fujitsu.

According to Microsoft, the Windows Azure platform appliance represents the first turnkey cloud services platform for deployment in customer and service provider data centres. Microsoft partners are coming to terms with how the rise of cloud computing will transform their role as businesses that sell, customise, build, implement and support Microsoft solutions worldwide.

Microsoft’s 640,000 partners employ more than 6 million staff and achieved combined sales of US$537 billion last year. In his keynote speech at the partner conference, Steve Ballmer, CEO at Microsoft, said: “We are at an inflection point in technology history. For customers, cloud computing creates tremendous value, which translates to massive opportunity for Microsoft and its partners. As in past technology transitions, Microsoft will help partners embrace the industry’s transformation to realise their opportunity and continue to be economic drivers for their local community.”

During the partner event, Bob Muglia, president of the server and tools business at Microsoft, outlined how the vendor provides an integrated service and server platform that allows customers and partners to deploy clouds when and where they want. The Windows Azure platform offers a standardised service platform; the customisable Windows Server platform lets customers and partners build public and private clouds that leverage existing investments with maximum flexibility.

“Microsoft is the first and only company that offers customers and partners a full range of cloud capabilities and the flexibility to deploy these services where and how they wish — whether that is with Microsoft, a service provider, in a customer data centre or a combination of all three,” Muglia said.

“Today’s introduction of the Windows Azure platform appliance ushers in a new era of cloud computing, and we are looking forward to working with our partners to bring all the benefits of the appliance to our customers and the business technology industry,” he added.

Tami Reller, corporate VP and CFO for the Windows business, detailed the partner opportunity with Windows 7 and announced the beta release of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1, which enhance the deployment and management of virtualised desktop infrastructure. Reller also emphasized the role of the cloud in Windows and announced the second public beta of Windows Intune, a new offering that uses both Windows cloud services and Windows 7 to manage and help secure PCs.

Closing out the keynote addresses, Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, highlighted growing partner momentum for Microsoft Online Services (MOS), shared examples of how partners are delivering value to customers with MOS and announced new partnerships with communications service providers, including Bell Canada, BT, PGi, TDC, and Telenor Group, as well as distributors Ingram Micro and Tech Data. Elop also announced the naming and expected beta availability of the next version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

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