Azure Owns the Enterpri$e

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I had a “discussion” on twitter a few weeks ago where I predicted that Microsoft’s Windows Azure would be “the one to beat” in the enterprise. It’s nice that companies are using Amazon and other clouds, but for the 80-90% of Windows/.NET applications that run your typical enterprise, Azure will be king.

I’m at the PDC in LA today and in packed sessions of enterprise developers and ISVs who are genuinely excited about moving their Windows workloads to the cloud. Azure is not targeted towards the big SaaS/Web 2.0/Facebook app crowd. Instead, they are going after the enterprise users who drive the bulk of spending in the tech market.

Consider the following factors:

  1. Microsoft Owns the Platform: Sure, most enterprises have used VMware to virtualize their Windows apps, but they’re first and foremost Windows apps.  VMware should be afraid of losing this dominance as workloads move to the cloud.  After all, if you’re not managing the virtualization, do you care who provides it (as long as it works and is secure)?
  2. Microsoft Owns the Tools:  Nearly all Windows apps are written with Visual Studio and most run on SQL Server.  You can guarantee that there will be tight integration between the Azure platform and the Windows tools.  Deploying your apps to Azure will be WAY EASIER than deploying to any other cloudd.
  3. Microsoft’s ISV Base is Huge: Did  you know that most SAP installations run on Windows?  If  you sell business apps to mid and large enterprises, you probably run on Windows first.  Microsoft is aggressively pursuing ISVs to move to a SaaS model on Azure with great tools and support that will only get better.

Face it – despite their very slow start, Microsoft knows that Azure is a make-or-break situation.  They are innovating, listening to customers, and pouring $ billions into the cloud. They will be happy to let the Web cloud crowd use Amazon, Google and others.

What does this mean for VMware and the VCE Consortium?  I actually believe that VMware will be a survivor in this business, but perhaps with less influence than they have today.  There will always be a need for higher-end solutions for complex deployment scenarios, and VCE is well-positioned for this.  Where you need a lot of customization, transition services, and other help for your more complicated applications (like the aforementioned SAP), a VMware-based cloud will be a great fit.  The topology for a typical SAP application, for example, may be challenging for Azure but is perfect for a VMware cloud (such as Verizon, Unisys, Terremark, and others).  And VMware has a lot of friends.  Lastly, VMware can make workload migration from like-to-like hypervisors easier than moving from them to Azure.  Don’t count them out!

Azure’s not perfect (SQL Azure has serious scaling challenges for analytic workloads), but it’s a strong solution for the bulk of those 2,000-4,000 regular applications that run a business.  And that’s just fine with Microsoft.

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