A Close Up View of Windows Azure Adoption

Capgemini Windows Azure Adoption StudyEarlier this year, Capgemini released a 32 page report titled “A Close-up View of Microsoft Azure Adoption” that focuses on how Business Decision Makers are driving cloud trends. The report is based on a study that consisted of 460 detailed interviews with enterprises from around the world, most with >10,000 employees from many industries. The findings represented both IT executives and Line-of-Business decision-makers equally in an effort to provide a well-rounded view. Some of the (maybe not so surprising) highest level findings from their study include:

  • Cloud decisions are being made more and more by line-of-business managers rather than, or with assistance from, IT.
  • Almost no firms are making an ‘all-or-nothing’ decision about moving to the public cloud, but instead are taking a step-by-step approach and identifying/moving workloads that are less risky first.
  • New applications are going to the public cloud first, some almost by default. Legacy systems are mostly being left where they are for the time being.

Business & IT Drivers for Selection of Windows Azure

Windows Azure in Cloud StrategyOverall, 73% of the respondents indicated that Windows Azure is part of their overarching cloud strategy. Industries that deal directly with customers (B2C) are more progressive with their approach than industries that deal mostly with optimizing internal processes (automotive, manufacturing).

So what’s driving this adoption strategy of that 73%?  Well, the drivers most commonly cited were reduced cost, reduced time to market, operational efficiencies, and improved customer demand.

But why Windows Azure over other public cloud platforms? The most common responses here were related to our ability to handle Big Data, the management and monitoring of applications, the depth of offerings, and trust. In fact, when asked about the benefits of Windows Azure, more than 1/3 of the respondents mentioned ‘trust’ and ‘confidence in vendor’.

The Role of a Systems Integrator

So this all sounds great for Microsoft, but what about the Systems Integration partners I work with across Central & Eastern Europe? You will also find validation of your efforts throughout this report, most notably in statements like this:

Dealing with challenges – by orchestrating the overall Cloud landscape – will be the job of the CIO and IT function, and in many cases, this will be facilitated by Systems Integrators who have knowledge of the customer and the cloud vendor portfolio.

Further along in the report, Capgemini finds that CIOs will actually lean more heavily on the Systems Integrator than the cloud vendor for defining SLAs:

“In our survey, 61% of respondents envisioned developing Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with a Systems Integrator, and only 39% with a Cloud vendor.”

In Summary

The study is comprehensive by offering broad representation of geography, industry, job title, and organization size, it’s insightful, and the results are encouraging, indicating that customer perceptions about public cloud adoption are shifting more quickly than I had thought. And while business seems to be taking more of a driver seat in the selection of applications, there is no doubt that IT, the CIO, and the Systems Integrator will all be key in execution.

The finding that line-of-business, rather than (or with) IT, is increasingly driving cloud adoption reflects the very nature that public cloud platforms offer way more than just an efficient way of deploying new applications. Windows Azure offers not only opportunities for efficiency and cost-savings, but often allows us to have conversations with customers about innovation, faster time to market, and better ways to compete, all of which are conversations that matter to line-of-business decision makers.

Global Windows Azure Bootcamp

The Global Windows Azure Bootcamp is on 27 April - happening in several locations globally on the same day.

What is the Windows Azure Bootcamp?

A one day deep dive class that will get you up to speed on developing for Windows Azure. The class includes a trainer with deep real world experience with Windows Azure, as well as a series of labs so you can practice what you just learned.

Where is it happening and how much does it cost?

This event is FREE for the attendees, so find the location closest to you and sign up today! For our customers and partners in Central & Eastern Europe, we have bootcamps happening in Poland, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia.

If you don’t see a location that is convenient for you and you would like to organize such an event, contact the team to discuss hosting one in your country!

Recent Windows Azure Announcements

We’ve made some really great announcements related to Windows Azure recently.

MetricsHubFirstly, we’ve announced the acquisition of MetricsHub, a service that automates cloud performance management and helps customers manage their cloud services more efficiently. Read about how they do this by continuously collecting data, making intelligent decisions based on what they collect, and scaling cloud services up or down to match current demand. This inherently allows customers to cut unnecessary costs while supporting periods of peak demand. The MetricsHub approach to automating performance optimization, while reducing cost, with little effort on the part of customers is what makes the service so attractive.

How do you get your hands on this great service? All Windows Azure customers can MetricsHub in Windows Azure Storeget started today: with the announcement of a pre-release, no charge, version of MetricsHub’s Active Cloud Monitoring which is available now through the Windows Azure Store.  You can learn more at the MetricsHub site.

Secondly, we’ve made a bunch of announcements with regard to the Windows Azure platform and technical/feature updates. Take a look at Scott Guthrie’s blog post here which outlines the details of all these updates:

  • Mobile Services: Android support, East Asia Region Support, iOS dev content
  • SQL Reporting Services: Support in the management portal
  • Active Directory: Support in the azure management portal, user and domain management
  • Availability Monitoring for Cloud Services. Virtual Machines, Web Sites, and Mobile Services
  • Service Bus: New configuration tab and metrics
  • Storage: Ability to download blobs directly in management portal
  • Media Services: New monitoring metrics and quickstart experience
  • Cloud Services: Support for .cer certificate files upload
  • Localization:  support for five new languages
  • Windows Azure Store: Support in 22 Additional Countries

The “Rogue” Cloud

I am fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with customers and partners across Central & Eastern Europe talking with them about their adoption of or hesitation about cloud computing, topics I thoroughly enjoy. I hear a broad range of interesting perspectives, objections, concerns, benefits, etc….basically, the good, the bad, and the ridiculous.

One of the most common conversations I have has to do with customer’s concerns over lack of control and the location of their data when moving applications or services to the public cloud domain. These are of course natural and pragmatic concerns, and they should absolutely be discussed and addressed. But, this shouldn’t be paralyzing. There are almost certainly workloads in every organization that could reap the benefits of cloud computing and by putting a ‘no public cloud’ rule in place, IT leaders might be exposing themselves to an unpleasant surprise…and that is the “rogue” cloud.The Rogue Cloud

I was talking with one of my colleagues recently who told me a story about visiting a customer in Poland to discuss Windows Azure (more specifically using IaaS Virtual Machines for their development & test environment). The IT Manager was absolutely adamantly against it: a ‘no public cloud’ rule is instituted. Later, my colleague was approached by someone in the IT department who disclosed that he uses AWS to spin up virtual machines for testing because it takes too long to get a VM via their private cloud. How does he pay for this? With his own personal credit card and then he expenses it back to the organization.

Now, sometimes rogue cloud is unintentional. For example, take the marketing manager who adopts a SaaS platform for tracking leads from a digital marketing effort. This could very likely be done without ever thinking to involve IT.

In either case, the rogue cloud is something that IT needs to be cognizant of and they should have a plan for the best way to handle both the intentional and unintentional scenarios.

CA Technologies’ Vice President of Strategic Solutions, Andi Mann, recently guest authored an article on Cloud Times about this topic. He raised a few very valid points for consideration. Andy points out that IT has to:

  • recognize the expansion of the rogue cloud
  • innovate approaches that help the business manage the risk while
  • recognizing the benefits users are getting from it, and
  • find ways to securely deliver those benefits to the organization at large.

In taking this approach, the rogue cloud could become an inspiration instead of a threat.

What do you think?

Windows Azure Ranked #1 Cloud Storage Provider

Nasuni Cloud Storage Provider RankingNasuni has released their 2013 State of Cloud Storage report. Last year Amazon held the top spot, but Windows Azure has outperformed all other major providers to take the top spot this year! Windows Azure not only ranked #1 in the categories of performance and availability, but was the only cloud storage provider with ZERO read and write errors. Check out the infographic here and download the full report here.

Windows Azure at //build

//buildThe content from //build has now been posted. Check out the 25+ sessions focused on Windows Azure here. And if you’re looking for a summary of the highlights and announcements that were made about Windows Azure, read this post from my colleague, Brent Stineman.

Forrester analyst James Staten attended //build and wrote this fanastic article about Windows Azure. ‘You’re running out of excuses to not try Microsoft Windows Azure‘. These are some of the best points from the article:

  • …this cloud service has become a serious contender for the top spot in cloud platforms.
  • Microsoft said it now has over 100,000 separate named accounts using Azure, is adding thousands per month, and compute use is doubling every six months.”
  • If you are a government agency, an airline, a pharmaceutical maker, media company, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider, an oil company, or a financial services firm, your peers are already using Windows Azure.”
  • Our surveys of developers, development managers, and even I&O pros show Microsoft as a top-five most used cloud platform.”
  • Where Microsoft is differentiating itself centers around its integration with the on-premises world.

Top 10 Windows Azure Resources

I receive a lot of questions from partners on the best way to get started with hands-on experience in Windows Azure. I recommend the following (free!) resources to get going or further deepen your already existing knowledge on Windows Azure:

  1. Windows Azure Training Kit: A comprehensive set of resources covering PaaS and IaaS workloads, including presentations, hands-on-labs, demos, and scripts so that you and your team may learn and re-deliver information to your customers about Windows Azure.
  2. Windows Azure Track: A comprehensive set of online trainings broken down by role (sales, pre-sales, architect, developer)
  3. Moving Applications to the Cloud: Provides an introduction to Windows Azure and discusses the cost model and application life cycle management for cloud-based applications, and describes how to migrate an existing ASP.NET application to the cloud.
  4. Developing Applications for the Cloud: Discusses the design considerations and implementation details of applications that are designed from the beginning to run in the cloud.
  5. Building Hybrid Applications on Windows Azure: Covers many topics related to architecting applications which rely on cloud AND on-premise technology (for example, an application that contains some components or features that cannot be located in the cloud, such as third-party services or sensitive data that must be maintained onsite under specialist control).
  6. Building Elastic and Resilient Cloud Applications: Self-explanatory description.
  7. A Guide to Claims-Based Identity and Access Control: Self-explanatory description.
  8. Cloud Ninja: A comprehensive code sample on codeplex developed to demonstrate the design and implementation of key features in Windows Azure with emphasis on metering and automated scaling.
  9. Fabrikam Shipping: Provides an in depth coverage of Identity Federation for multi-tenant applications. This is recommended to be reviewed in addition to Cloud Ninja.
  10. Windows Azure Forums: An online community of very responsive Azure geeks users who help each other out with common questions, code samples, and other general technical support.

I encourage you to take advantage of the resources listed here and also let me know if you’ve found other items that are useful. I plan to add to this list and make it permanently available as a page on my blog so you may refer back to it as needed.

Contest Announcement: Windows Azure Event-in-a-Box

We are officially announcing the Windows Azure ‘Enterprise Event-in-a-Box’ series! This is a contest designed exclusively for Azure Circle Partners to submit their ideas for a customer-facing event. If your event is selected, you will receive co-funding to run a customer-facing event.

How does it work?

  1. Check your email for the contest rules & PowerPoint template you can use for your event proposal.
  2. Submit your nomination to me by email by the end of business day 19 October.

What is expected from you?

  1. Develop and execute an Enterprise-tailored event.
  2. Drive attendance.
  3. Provide event feedback to me.
  4. Match requested event funds (1:1).
  5. Register qualified Windows Azure leads.

What will you receive in return?

  1. Content and collateral, plus industry and scenario focused materials (whitepapers, presentations, etc)
  2. Co-Funding
  3. Demand Generation/Lead follow up
  4. Managed Registration
  5. Inclusion in Microsoft Global Marketing Campaign

I look forward to receiving your nomination!

Cloud Assessment Tool for Partners

Cloud Assessment ToolHave you tried the Cloud Assessment Tool? If not, you can start today by registering for it here and learning more about what it is here. It’s free to use (and it runs on Windows Azure!). This is a sales tool designed to provide a framework for conversations with customers. Ultimately, the tool allows you to strategize and design your cloud sales engagements. It’s composed of two parts:

  • A CIO Conversation assessment, and
  • Five Application Workload-Specific assessments. The LoB (line-of-business) workload is primarily focused on Azure.

The CIO Assessment focuses on high-level company’s strategy, and supports discussions on how the customer achieves that strategy. The workload specific assessments focus on discussions with IT decision makers about a particular workload (Messaging, Collaboration, Unified Communications, CRM, and Line of Business). You can also use these resources for telesales efforts as they are great conversation starters for discussing cloud with new and existing customers.

Windows Azure Global Summit

Last week I attended the Windows Azure Global Summit in Seattle, WA. The agenda and speaker line-up was fantastic including Scott Guthrie, Bill HilfMark Russinovich, David Chappell, and others. Topics covered ranged from:

  • The Windows Azure Roadmap
  • Investments in marketing & advertising. Ask me about the Windows Azure Event-in-a-Box (available only for Windows Azure Circle partners!)
  • Opportunities for partners focusing on providing managed services. Ask me about the Windows Azure Outsourcing Program (available only for Windows Azure Circle partners!)
  • New information on pricing & licensing for Windows Azure.
  • A new Executive-Level presentation on customer adoption and trends in cloud computing (ask me if you’re interested).
  • And many other topics related to competition, Solution Incentive Program, Windows Azure Deployment Planning Services, hybrid cloud, market momentum, and partner opportunities.

I will deliver a webcast to review the information communicated there last week so look for an invitation in your email to this. I wish you all a successful close to the quarter!