A few of us had the privilege of attending Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto last month. Themes of the conference? Cloud, Windows 8, and a full refresh of every product line within one 12-month period. It’s quite a huge undertaking, and with the correct execution, it will be a very exciting year.
Microsoft has been touting their Office 365 and Azure platforms for a few years. It seems like the platforms are picking up steam. This year Microsoft announced their Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering for Azure that is designed to compete directly with Amazon, Google, and other cloud providers. But it’s so much more. Microsoft’s vision is to combine IaaS, System Center 2012, and Windows Server 2012, to provide a true hybrid cloud scenario. If data needs to remain private, keep it in your data center. To leverage the stability and cost-savings of the cloud, push the workload to Azure. With the current age of the offering, there are still details to work through, but the vision is very compelling for companies who are looking to have the best of both worlds.
With Windows 8, Microsoft is attempting to execute on its vision to provide a single consistent interface for users of its operating system. I think they are getting really close to providing platform independence. By utilizing their new interface across all platforms (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone), people will be able to work and play with a consistent look and feel across their devices. Organizations will also be able to deploy standardized and secure platforms for their staff. Some of the interesting features that enable this are:
- Windows To Go (running Windows 8 on a USB drive from any computer, including at home)
- User Setting Synchronization (setting changes made on your PC will automatically copy to your tablet)
- Enterprise Deployment of Apps (apps are not required to be in the Market Place and can be pushed by IT)
- Large array of new touch devices from all-in-ones to convertible laptops and ultrabooks
The other major theme is the refresh of all of the Microsoft product lines. This was bound to happen in order to provide consumers and businesses alike to execute on Microsoft’s vision. The lines between the product lines has blurred over the years. For example, you can’t really talk about Azure without talking about System Center for cloud management. You also can’t talk about Windows Server 2012 without talking about System Center. All three products work in unison to provide a rich feature set of compute power and flexible management.
Things will be both exciting and interesting in the world of Microsoft this year. Execution of all of these changes is key to success. How companies approach these changes will be key. There will definitely need to be some planning, communication, and training involved to make any of these implementations successful.