Mar 10, 2009

A bigger Microsoft cloud

Since its announcement of the Software+Services strategy in 2006, Microsoft has been steadily refining and growing it's online offerings. Over the last two years Microsoft has unveiled it's strategy at regular intervals. Thus far we've been taken from the S+S strategy in the summer of 2006 through the general availability of US-based consumer and business grade hosted messaging, communications, and collaboration services in November 2008. Last week Microsoft's cloud got bigger with the general availability of worldwide Microsoft Online Services for any sized company. According to Microsoft's press release:

...the Business Productivity Online Suite, part of Microsoft Online Services, is now available for trial to businesses of all sizes in 19 countries. In addition, Microsoft will release Microsoft Office Communications Online, for instant messaging and presence, and the Business Productivity Online Deskless Worker Suite, an extremely economical e-mail, calendaring and collaboration service for the occasional user.

This steady cloud formation is formidable and steps up the competition in the emerging cloud-based platforms market. There's lots of ground that still needs to be covered, especially when it comes to supporting enterprises, however. Microsoft is still not likely to suck the air out of the enterprise hosting room until it can make the entire platform (e.g., messaging plus all of its supporting services) affordable and secure. Cheap mailbox services are a good selling point but enterprises tend to look at (and need) more than just better mailbox service costs. The cloud maturity model looks more complex than one-stop shopping solutions when you get to the enterprise. Flexibility, adaptability, and risk mitigation are the keys to enterprise hearts. The cloud is still too squishy and moist for many.

Microsoft Online Services Available Worldwide: Microsoft signs agreement with GlaxoSmithKline to deploy Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online and Office Live Meeting for employees worldwide.

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