Posted by Sandy Gupta
General Manager, Strategy, Open Solutions Group

I know I am not the only one that often spends time thinking about where the puck is going next; wondering about how the industry is going to work together to anticipate tomorrow's challenges in serving up the cloud.

After spending the last couple of weeks participating in the World Hosters Day in Rust Germany, Microsoft Hosting Days in Madrid, Milan and Munich and the Microsoft Hosting Summit back home in Bellevue, Washington, I know that I am not alone in thinking about this. Attending these events has verified for me that Web Hosters will drive adoption of Cloud services over the next three years. And I am happy to report that we are working closely with our partners, and even competitors, to help these Hosters serve the needs of their customers around the world.

So why do I believe that Hosters are going to drive adoption of cloud services?

The "SMB Adoption of Cloud Services on the Rise" study published last week says 39 percent of small and medium-sized businesses expect to be paying for cloud services within the next three years, compared to the 29 percent that are doing so right now. The study also spells out that SMBs will select a service provider based on "past experience with support from a service provider", with 82 percent rating a provider with a local presence as either important or critical.

Companies deploying cloud want to work with someone that they trust, know well and have proximity to. And they want choice. And Hosters know it.

While talking to many Hosting business owners in these events I observed a couple of trends. First, the key tenant of Cloud is to automate the IT infrastructure so that the end user can self-manage it without having an IT manual intervention like calling a Hoster to deploy a new server. The second observation was that in the new world, Cloud companies are working to provide end users with easy-to-use interfaces that they can use to provision a new box with a click of a button. Regardless of whether the customer chooses to host on Linux or Windows.

During my travels, I also had the opportunity to meet with Ms. Soraya Muñoz Lucas from the leading community media in Spain, Gaceta Tecnológica Ediciones. In an interview published last week, I explained that the Open Solutions Group at Microsoft is working to extend the Cloud automation solutions that Microsoft already offers to Hosters that are managing heterogeneous environments where Windows Server and Linux Servers are running side by side.

Having the Open Hyper-V Cloud architecture is a key differentiator for us as it allows the service providers to meet their customer needs without worrying about the complexity of mixed environments.

One of the key solutions we offer to Service Providers to automate Windows and Linux provisioning environments (instead of the old way of writing hundreds of shell scripts and custom code to do such provisioning for different types of platforms...) is the Opalis workflow. Below I have pasted an Opalis workflow that my team has developed for Linux provisioning through System Center that allows you to automate your Windows and Linux provisioning using a single pain of glass:

I think it is pretty clear where the puck is moving. Those Hosters that will adopt new and innovative ways of delivering their IT services, while offering their customers choice, will win!