Our CEO, Steve Ballmer, recently said in a speech that Microsoft is “all in” with Cloud Computing and our Software + Services offerings. SharePoint 2007 has had a Microsoft hosted offering for some time now. Microsoft offers Standard and Dedicated hosted offerings. Standard has multiple customers running on a shared server infrastructure with their data and applications still kept separate. Dedicated gives customers their own physical server environment.

Some companies decide to use Microsoft to host their entire SharePoint environment and treat it like a utility/infrastructure service where they don’t want to be in the business of managing the servers, patching, upgrades, backups, etc. Some customers use a hybrid model where Microsoft hosts SharePoint for some classes of data and applications, such as secure Extranet collaboration areas with customers and partners; board of director sites; or during mergers and acquisitions.

But what if you want to continue to run SharePoint on premise for some or all of your needs – how does Microsoft being a hosting provider for SharePoint benefit you?

In my opinion, the answer is simple: Microsoft architects, develops and tests a single version of SharePoint. This means that the same SharePoint platform is designed to scale and work in either on premise or hosted architectures.

In SharePoint 2010 we’re introducing a number of new features that bring more parity between our hosted and on premise offerings. They also help customers further scale within their own datacenters and on premise SharePoint farms. CIO Magazine recently published an article entitled “SharePoint 2010: More Cloud-Friendly than Past Versions” that summarizes some of the upcoming changes to the SharePoint 2010 Online hosted offerings.

Features such as sandboxed solutions, resource quotas and throttling make it much easier to allow for SharePoint 2010 custom development, composite applications and customization to a SharePoint server farm eliminating many of the challenges that exist today – both when hosting and managing an on premise farm. For example these features help to address some common needs that exist today such as how do we make sure that company (or division or team) X does not introduce an application in the SharePoint farm that will affect the overall stability, performance and security of the farm.