Microsoft has its head in ‘the cloud’

27 Jul 2007

Speaking at Microsoft’s financial analyst meeting yesterday in Redmond, Washington, CEO Steve Ballmer said that all software companies must join the paradigm shift happening in the industry right now if they want to survive.

“Every piece of software will have a client component, a server component, and service component from the cloud, that all gets managed and orchestrated out of that cloud infrastructure,” said Ballmer.

Software is moving increasingly into a web-based environment with word processing and database web applications such as Google Docs & Spreadsheets which require no installation.

This existence for software where the user assesses the core components remotely or from ‘the cloud’ is known as ‘software as a service’.

“The transformation of software to be software plus services is a phenomenon that we are embracing, we need to embrace, and frankly, any company who thinks their core competency is software better get to getting on this dimension,” said Ballmer.

However, Ballmer said that the existence of software purely in an online firm was “wrong-minded”. Microsoft may have its head in the clouds but insists on keeping its feet firmly on the ground.

He said that the richest user experience is a mix of both traditional service management that provides security and compliance, and web-based usage which drives down computing costs, and can be accessed anywhere.

“You get online and offline access. You get personal control, and the ability to integrate, and mix and match in the most flexible and arbitrary form. Nobody wants to give that away,” he said.

In this vein Microsoft has cloudware like Windows Live, Office Live, Popfly, MSN, Live Search, and Virtual Earth.

It also has business-oriented services in the form of Office Live, aimed at small businesses and released in February 2006.

The company is also working on beta testing a new enterprise to enterprise communications tool called BizTalk.

By Marie Boran