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The Cloud Landscape is Changing and Microsoft is Leading the Charge


An interesting thing is happening which was to be fully expected. The cloud landscape is shifting dramatically and although it didn’t quite start with Microsoft they are the first of the big names to have the force to change things. They upped OneDrive Business systems storage space from 25 gigs to 1 Terabyte a huge amount of space by anyone’s measure. The next logical move would be just to jump to unlimited as, at this moment in time, 1 Terabyte is almost like saying it’s unlimited.

The Vision

The reason I say this and it is not unexpected is everything was moving towards the cloud anyway. The next level of advanced applications will all be cloud enabled. Some will be fully cloud enabled.

Secondly, Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella clearly outlined a cloud primed vision. In a presentation he gave recently, when he released Office for the iPad, he also released his vision. He stated it as ”Mobile First, Cloud First.” In a sense finally I’ll say Microsoft is on the money. Microsoft still has the clout to wield direction. The direction was happening and Apple, via iCloud has been there for a while but they have not aggressively embraced this essential direction.

That doesn’t mean Apple won’t. It also doesn’t mean they don’t have the technology. They do and it is well integrated with its devices. But Apple is not the company you think of to buy cloud services from as:

  • they are very expensive
  • the breadth of capacity just isn’t in there
  • iCloud works in mysterious ways even for those that know the cloud

Does this mean your Mac will be defunct and you will only use devices that are cloud enabled. This is the least likely scenario. Cloud enabled devices can do a lot. Nothing though can do what a Mac or for that matter a PC does. For those needing the most advanced of applications only a computer will do. However, our little devices that were at one time just Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s) and communicators (BlackBerrys) are now computers in our hands.

The Reality

So with vision does reality follow. Not always but in this case it is happening as envisioned quite some time ago. Actually, cloud computing began in the 50’s but was for a totally different reason. Computing equipment was very expensive and by time-sharing dumb terminals on centralized computers they could operate continously and therefore more cost effectively. To quote “Other scholars have shown that cloud computing’s roots go all the way back to the 1950s when scientist Herb Grosch (the author of Grosch’s law) postulated that the entire world would operate on dumb terminals powered by about 15 large data centers.

Cloud computing though as it is transpiring is for very different reasons today. It is not for cost effectiveness yet it does increase productivity and therefore makes computing tools valuable plus essential. Cloud computing today is for the delivery of a new breed of application functionality that can only be delivered via the cloud with mobility tied to it. I like to use this example of the new type of application which everyone loves and that is ordering a cab but not just any cab. Hailo, a service that cab drivers can join, allows you to setup an account in which all billing happens through it. Using your iPhone you can order a cab, watch it come on your phone, know that it’s arrived via an alert, take your ride and get out without exchanging a dime. It’s all just billed to your account.

The convenience of this modern day application cannot be underestimated and it heralds the coming of more. The transformative economy is coming into rapid play and only those that can shift fast will likely survive. People, as they always have, will migrate to that which they prefer. The above application could not happen without a cloud based system and mobility. Microsoft’s vision reflects reality or the reverse could be just as true.

The Cloud, Mobility, Productivity, Freedom and Reduced Stress

People would not buy into any product or solution unless there was a payoff. At a macro level, a system will exist that leads to buy in. However, progress occurs based on the fact there’s a payoff to the person adopting the solution. A system that stratifies society though often leads to revolution. I would propose that this change is leading to equalizing as opposed to creating inequality.

Cloud based solutions enable mobility. Our information and thus our ability to work can be carried out anywhere. The payoff here is huge. Mobility leads to productivity. Productivity and mobility lead to freedom. Freedom in this case means that you are not bound to a location in which to conduct work while productivity increases your ability to get more work done thus further increasing freedom by freeing up time. Finally, all of these components taken together decrease stress from a variety of angles.

When one speaks of the cloud and cloud based applications many look perplexed as they do not understand what this seemingly amorphous cloud is. Others rebel as they’re afraid it means giving up a safe way of living while finally some embrace the concept who appreciate the potential.

Show anyone though a cloud based app that is new and novel yet desirable such as the AppleTV and Netflix and they are glued to this solution not necessarily realizing what it is they desire so much now.

Could I ever give up my Hailo cab service. Only if it were replaced by an even more unique cloud based solution to get a cab.

Microsoft Embraces and Leads

Microsoft has clearly not only embraced the cloud but they are now leading the charge. Microsoft’s new CEO could potentially help define the transformative economy as opposed to being swallowed by it.

What will be interesting is to see if Microsoft keeps flogging a dead horse in the form of Windows or just delivers and expresses Windows potential as it is and attempts to make it support the cloud as well as possible. However, the true acid test for Microsoft will how well will they support the Mac.

The Mac and its ecosystem is designed extremely well to support the new cloud technology. Combine the Mac hardware with, as an example, Office 365 and you have an extremely robust environment for the delivery of sophisticated cloud based solutions.

For Microsoft to deliver on what they’ve set out, they have to view other platforms equally to their own. Cloud based solutions have to be hardware or device independent. With Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) very alive any solution that would lock any individual out in any business would be a complete non-starter. Microsoft has to be fully aware of this.

Finally, there are a number of small business’ based on the Mac. There’s a market opportunity here for Microsoft if they do it right and doing it right means incorporating the Mac equally. The days ahead look more interesting on numerous fronts.

The Mac user is already very well served by its own ecosystem. Yet, if Microsoft is leading a charge then there’s a benefit for the Mac to be able to be a part of that for a different level solution that Microsoft can bring to the table. The days ahead are starting look quite fascinating and what’s more fascinating is that it is Microsoft that is creating this.

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