Yesterday (05/10/2010) I attended Microsoft’s Transition to the Cloud briefing in the Excel centre in London.

This was billed as a must attend event for Microsoft partners and this was underlined by the fact that we were due to have a video presentation by Steve Ballmer. In the event Steve Ballmer was actually there in person to give the keynote – this really was an important event in Microsoft’s terms. His theme was that the old world has gone – in-house servers, network, support – and the new world is rapidly taking over – smart clients accessing lean apps hosted in the cloud, the Microsoft cloud.

Mr Steve Bullmer, CEO Microsoft (aka Monkeyboy)

None of us that have been paying attention in the last year or so can have failed to notice that our smallest clients have been looking away from having servers in-house to moving to hosted or cloud based services. For businesses such as ours this has consequences – clients not having equipment on the premises means customers not needing engineers like us to look after them.

The event yesterday was billed as the way for Partners to find out how to make money out of the cloud. This is certainly our top priority as a business – how to sell, exploit and make money from putting our clients applications and data in the cloud.

The message from Microsoft yesterday was shockingly explicit – on-premise servers and the support contracts that go with them are dead.

It actually took until near the end of the 7 hour day for this to be spelt out but that was certainly the subtext of the entire day; selling servers to small and medium sized enterprises is history. On-premise Exchange servers and those Exchange administration skills will belong to antique shops.

The other explicit message of the day was that Microsoft want partners  – all partners it seems – to become developers. Not just any developers of course but Microsoft developers using the Azure platform. The vision is that I.T. budgets will not be spent of hardware and software on-premise but rather in developing smart, lean applications based upon a cloud based platform. For example your CRM application will store its’ data in a SQL database hosted in the cloud somewhere.

If Microsofts vision of the future hold true it means a change of direction for us; we have development skills in-house but we have concentrated in recent years on our networking and support skills.

Microsoft did throws us support business one bone yesterday. They previewed the forthcoming Intune product. This looks very interesting for us. It is in essence something like System Center for small businesses. It is a control panel based in the cloud that monitors all your PCs for their health – patching, security software, etc. This subscription based service also includes an upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate and a remote support tool based upon Office Communicator.

Enough for Part 1 of this blog. In my second part I’ll examine the opportunities for Partners like us in this new world.

by hostadmin on Oct 6, 2010 at 8:40 PM

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