When Steve Ballmer says “We’re all in the cloud”  this should be viewed in the same way as when  Bill Gates talked about “a PC in every home”.  I could quote statistics on the investment Microsoft is making in the cloud or show you some cool pictures of containers in one of the data centres, but I think this whitepaper on internal adoption of the cloud by Microsoft’s internal IT department is in many ways more compelling.

Why? because if you asked anyone working in IT what the major concerns are about adopting cloud services, I can guarantee that security and compliance will come up.  So the fact that Microsoft is putting two of its most important systems in the cloud..

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the performance and bonus HR stuff, and the volume licensing service manager is proof that this should not be seen as a barrier to moving to the cloud.

Actually Microsoft already has loads of personal data about us on its cloud servers, I say us because if you have

  • An account with BT Vision
  • XBox Live
  • Hotmail
  • Skydrive

..those are Microsoft cloud services for consumers.  It’s a similar story with Microsoft’s business facing services like BPOS and Azure.  What all these services have in common is that they are all delivered form the same infrastructure.  So it’s a logical next step for Microsoft to use this platform for its own internal services including those with sensitive personal data in them.

However what makes this interesting is that this decision was not based on some corporate mantra, it is based on cold hard economics as the return on investment calculations in the whitepaper show. These are based on the standard commercial charging for Azure that any business would be charged compared to the cost of running those services in house, and so the same numbers could be used to look at the value you could get from using cloud services.

So is it time to consider a cloud first rather than a virtualisation first strategy in your organisation?