The last keynote speech of Tuesday morning at the 2011 WorldHostingDays in Germany was by Hyder Ali, hosting industry director for the communications sector over at Microsoft. Ali takes the stance that Microsoft is a company in transition from a leading software provider to one whose products are going to be hosted, and also posed the query – “is Microsoft a partner or competitor” in the new cloud hosting space?
Not surprisingly, his answer is that Microsoft is both and that Microsoft has been doing both for a long time by offering businesses ways to change and influence the development of Web hosting and cloud computing hypervisors, while at the same time competing in a growing provider marketplace. Ali pointed to both Apple and Amazon as other examples of companies who have been able to straddle the partner/competitor line and with excellent results.
Ali spoke about a number of Microsoft’s offerings including Azure, Office 365 and their Hyper-V cloud, all of which can be purchased from Microsoft and used or can be hosted and resold by those who wish to enter into that agreement with Microsoft as well – effectively giving the company a slice of both ends of the market. The director also spoke about Microsoft’s new Cloud Factory, in which companies can try out a proof-of-concept demonstration of Hyper-V in a Microsoft-hosted environment.
Microsoft’s plan appears to be to access revenue as both a supplier of hosted services and as a partner to the industry in order to develop new technology; giving them and hopefully companies the best of both worlds. At the moment, Microsoft is walking a fine line, and the growth of the market will determine the company’s success in this balancing act.