As competition in the cloud space heats up, things are looking better than ever for customers, as they have access to increasingly better solutions and hence, more choice. However, this competition is making at least one vendor uncomfortable - how else does one explain recent comments from an AWS executive that private clouds are “ill-advised” and “archaic”?

In my customer conversations, the most consistent theme that comes up is the reality that every customer has a unique cloud roadmap. This is not very surprising, as each customer is trying to optimize across a set of factors that are unique to its business. For example, if one customer’s biggest headache is securely managing the thousands of consumer mobile devices being used by employees within the company’s network, another may be more concerned about realizing the maximum return on an investment in server hardware. All of this is coupled with the realization that the IT world is extremely fluid, and CIOs and other IT decision makers need to be able to make today’s investments adapt as the environment around them changes.

With Microsoft’s Cloud OS vision, customers get one consistent platform for infrastructure, apps and data. And they get to decide where they want this platform to live – in their datacenter, their hosting service provider and/or the Microsoft public cloud. In other words, customers get to choose their cloud roadmap, and Microsoft supports them with a consistent experience no matter where they are. Customers around the world are seeing the value of this approach. So while Aston Martin decided to invest in Microsoft’s private cloud solution based on Windows Server and System Center for its own datacenters, Trek chose a public cloud solution based on Windows Azure as its best fit. Yet another customer, Telefónica, has chosen to implement a public-private hybrid solution to meet its unique needs.

My point here is not to defend an exclusively private or exclusively public cloud as the best choice for customers, because doing so implies that Microsoft (or any other cloud vendor) knows customers’ businesses and needs better than them, which is just not true. It’s also why Microsoft believes in providing customers with choices, and letting them decide the path that meets their needs best. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you learn more about our Cloud OS vision, and why we believe our approach gives customers the most flexibility.