IT Leadership

Microsoft Sends In the Clouds at TechEd 2012

Microsoft put its updated cloud offerings and business tools in the spotlight Monday for the start of its annual TechEd Conference.

In the keynote address kicking off the confab, Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft server and tools business, discussed Microsoft’s focus on helping consumers transition to cloud computing.

Nadella outlined the company’s three various cloud solutions designed for different types of customers. The company recently released a cloud-optimized upgrade to Windows Server 2012, with updates in storage, network and scalability. Windows Azure also received an upgrade with additional support across several platforms.

The newest software release is the final shipping version of Windows Intune 3, which adds management and security benefits on device management. Each PC covered with Intune will receive a Windows 8 upgrade when that software launches.

It’s the twentieth annual TechEd North America conference, and more than 10,000 IT professionals gathered in Orlando to see what the company will be rolling out this year. Microsoft hopes that the new cloud offerings it is showcasing at the event can help steer an easy customer transition into the cloud.

The company also showed off its upcoming Windows 8 platform. The final version of the operating system is expected to launch by the end of this year and feature greater mobile platform versatility than previous versions. At TechEd on Tuesday, Microsoft specifically highlighted the ways Windows 8 is “enterprise-ready by design,” touting its improved security and management features.

Baby Steps to Cloud

Together, the new Windows Server, Azure and Intune offerings are meant to ease a gradual consumer shift into the cloud. With many major software and hardware providers looking to also expand their cloud offerings, Microsoft needs to identify the areas where it can become the industry standard, said Larry Carvalho, owner of RobustCloud, told TechNewsWorld.

“With the amount of existing customers already on Exchange, Office 365 is a place that Microsoft shows an area where it is currently leading,” he said.

By rolling out its three-pronged approach to cloud integration across public, private and hybrid clouds, Microsoft is also showing it can be the cloud solution for a variety of markets.

“Where it can be a leader is in Infrastructure as a Service, especially with their support of multiple languages and frameworks,” he said. “The announcement shows Microsoft’s understanding of marketplace demands and their strategy matches behind these needs.”

That understanding of the market across multiple sectors sits well with developers, said Carvalho, which could be a huge advantage for the seasoned company as it attempts a shift into the cloud computing area.

“Microsoft’s experience in courting developers puts the chances of their cloud success ahead of Oracle, IBM and HP,” said Carvalho.

Crossing Fingers for Windows 8

The arrival of Windows 8 is growing closer, and Microsoft focused the second day of TechEd on promoting the OS to enterprise IT developers.

Windows 8 will use Bitlocker Administration and Monitoring 2.0 to simplify and improve its data protection, a huge concern for large corporations depending on security.

A beta version of the system available next month will also give individuals the ability to change their devices between Windows 7 and Windows 8 without having to reconfigure applications or settings. The flexibility could also be a draw for large corporations reluctant to undergo a massive transition to a new operating system.

Still, Microsoft has a long way to go before it can prove that Windows 8 is going to truly be the system that the tech world has been waiting, said Michael Silver, research vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“Microsoft has a few challenges, and I’m not sure they will be resolved by the end of the week,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Mid-large enterprises will largely skip Windows 8 for traditional PCs, but they may deploy it for tablets and hybrid or convertible devices. The real question is if Microsoft can improve its lot with consumers, which has been very difficult for them in the recent past.”

Microsoft did not respond to our request for further details on TechEd.

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