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Posts tagged ‘Windows Azure Platform’

Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Strategy and Roadmap Evident at Convergence 2013

cloud-multi-tenancyKirill Tatarinov’s keynote this morning at Microsoft’s Convergence 2013 marks a subtle, yet very significant shift in how this technology leader is marketing itself to partners and the outside world.  They are humanizing their marketing, messaging and products.

Gone is the Spock-like precision of presentations packed with roadmaps, mind-numbing metrics and intricate feature analysis.  The Nick Brophy Band made the keynote complete by delivering excellent sets.

Microsoft is learning that telling a good story trumps terabytes of metrics. They delivered a strong keynote today starting out showing how attendees reached out to the local community and helped Habitat for Humanity.  Kirill then based the majority of his keynote on four customer success stories taken from the Microsoft Customer Excellence Award winners. Chobani, Shock Doctor, Revlon and Weight Watchers shared how they were able to better connect with customers and run more efficient businesses using Microsoft Dynamics.

The only aspect of these award winner’s stories that fell short was how the complexity of back office system integration was glossed over.  No mention of third party or legacy system integration was made, which could have shown how far Microsoft and its partners have progressed on this point, especially with the help of integration partners like Scribe Software.

Microsoft’s Cloud-First Strategy Playing Well With Partners

For Microsoft to succeed with Windows Dynamics and Azure, they are going to need each partner and reseller to believe in the vision of a cloud-first strategy, then translate their unique expertise into sales.  That’s going to be a challenge that Microsoft will have to deal with daily as it looks to further strengthen its partner and reseller base.  The recent Azure outage caused by an expired SSL certificate is on the minds of many partners and resellers here too.  Microsoft is promoting their Windows Azure Service Dashboard heavily here as a result.

Despite that recent outage, Microsoft’s ecosystem on Dynamics is flourishing , as is evidenced by the attendance and participation in this show.  The cloud-first strategy has infused a sense of hope and anticipation in many partners and resellers.  Walking the floor yesterday and today, nearly eight of every ten partners offered up how they are planning on the cloud without being asked about it.

Microsoft 2013 Roadmap Embracing the Cloud, Devices and Services    

Kirill Tatarinov’s keynote underscored how committed Microsoft is to becoming as cloud, devices and services company.  He cited the statistic that there are more devices connected to the Internet today than there are human beings on the planet.

Through several examples he also showed how Microsoft is moving full speed into being a devices and services business.  Microsoft Windows Azure is the foundational component to this strategy.  While Kirill did not specifically say that, it is clear from an architectural standpoint Windows Azure will be the foundational element of their devices and services strategy.  Microsoft is already competing with market leader Amazon Web Services, Google, Rackspace and many others.  For more information on the competitive landscape of this market, please see my previous post, Demystifying Cloud Vendors.

From a roadmap perspective this will also force Microsoft to support many more mobile operating systems and environments than they ever have before.  For their device and services strategy to succeed for example, they will have to support Google Android and Apple iOS device interfaces capable of integrating with SQL Server, at a minimum.

The following table showing recently announced updates to the 2013 Microsoft Product Roadmap first appeared on the Redmond Channel Partner website on march 18th.

Microsoft roadmap analysis

Source: Redmond Channel Partner Magazine  

Microsoft reports that Office365 will go to an accelerated release cycle, further capitalizing on the nature of a cloud-based architecture.  Resellers at this conference like the  Office 365 Open licensing program because it allows them to direct-bill customers for use of the suite, in addition to paying for the bundle of their services. Windows Azure-hosted versions of Dynamics NAV and Dynamics GP will arrive in mid-2013 according to the article as well.

For the cloud, device and services strategy to succeed Microsoft must also succeed in convincing enterprise accounts to migrate their applications to Windows Azure.  This is one of the most critical areas for the future of their cloud strategy in the enterprise, so expect to see customer stories and ongoing messaging on this point.

Bottom line: Microsoft is transitioning to a more humanized approach to marketing while embracing a cloud, device and services strategy. It will be the partner ecosystem that transforms that vision into a profitable reality.

The Marketing of Cloud Multitenancy: How Early Adopters Are Killing The Hype

It’s impressive how quickly the teams evaluating CRM cloud-based applications are learning how to deflate the hype surrounding multitenancy.

One gets the impression that hype-hunting has now become a sport in these teams.  In engineering-centric companies it’s a badge of honor to find out just how multitenant a cloud-based application or platform is.  Multitenancy isn’t the only area they are looking at, but given the massive amount of hype surrounding this issue on the part of vendors, it generates more attention because evaluation teams are skeptical.

Teams evaluating CRM applications aren’t satisfied with an easily customized and used graphical interface or series of workflows, they are getting more interested in the architecture itself .  In some cases they’ve been burned by claims of an application being SaaS-based when in fact the architecture is a glorified series of Citrix-like sessions running in the background or worse.  I have seen a healthy amount of skepticism in the evaluations going on right now and recently completed of SaaS applications and entire cloud platforms.  Gartner’s inquiry calls from corporate accounts must be accelerating as their clients look for guidance on how to sort out the multitenancy hype.

CRM, Multitenancy and the Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing

Gartner’s search analytics show that cloud computing and related terms had 29,998 searches in the last twelve months with cloud computing alone generating 10,062 searches.  SaaS and related terms had a search volume of 19,000.  These terms are among the most popular across all Gartner search terms for the last twelve months.  In comparison, CRM had over 42,000 searches in the same period.

It’s in this area of CRM applications where multitenancy has gone into hype overdrive. Looking for differentiators, some CRM vendors are claiming not just multitenancy – but their specific brand of it.  This confuses their prospects, which immediately energizes evaluation teams to do a more thorough job than they have ever done before.  By claiming their own type of multitenancy, CRM vendors are ironically not just slowing down their own sales cycles, they are making the entire industry slow down.  No wonder Gartner places multitenancy along the Peak of Inflated Expectations in the latest Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing which is shown below.

Making Sense of Elasticity and Multitenancy

It’s paradoxical that enterprise software vendors, especially those selling SaaS-based CRM applications,  are attempting to turn multitenancy into a differentiator.  What is needed is a greater focus on usability, flexibility in aligning workflows to specific needs, and better enterprise integration technologies.  Sell the value not the product features.

Given the confusion differentiating on multitenancy is creating and the calls Gartner is getting on this issue, they published Gartner Reference Model for Elasticity and Multitenancy.  It includes what Gartner believes a cloud services provider must implement in terms of a multitenant service in addition to what SaaS-based applications need to provide.  Here are their checklists for each area:

Multitenancy Service Requirements for Cloud Services Providers

  • Isolation of tenant data
  • Isolation of the tenant workspace (memory)
  • Isolation of tenant execution characteristics (performance and availability)
  • Tenant-aware security, monitoring, management, reporting and self-service administration
  • Isolation of tenant customizations and extensions to business logic
  • Continuous, tenant-aware version control
  • Tenant-aware error tracking and recovery
  • Tracking and recording of resources use per tenant
  • The ability to allocate resources to tenants dynamically, as needed and based on policy Horizontal scalability to support real-time addition/removal of tenant resources, tenants or users without interruptions to the running environment

Multitenancy in Cloud Application Services (Software as a Service) Applications

  • Be available 24/7, because of the potential global user base
  • Adopt new versions without disrupting the continuous operations of tenants, and preserve user customizations
  • Scale up or down on demand
  • Allow individual rollback and restore for each tenant
  • Not allow a “noisy neighbor” tenant to affect the performance of other tenants, or increase their costs
  • Be accessible from various locations, devices and software architectures to meet potentially global demand
  • Offer tenant-aware self-service

Gartner also released their Reference Architecture for Multitenancy, which is shown below.  One of the key assumptions of this model is that multitenancy is a mode of operation where multiple, independent and secured instances of applications run in a shared environment.  The model includes the seven different models of multitenancy Gartner has seen in their research.  These seven models, listed across the top of the model beginning with Shared Nothing and progressing to Custom Multitenancy are across the top of the model.

The majority of enterprises I’ve worked with are looking to the Shared Hardware approach in an attempt to create backward compatibility to their legacy applications via Virtual Machines. Another area of interest is the Shared Container approach which relies on a separate logical or physical instance of a DBMS, and often isolates its own business logic.  This is ideal for distributed order management systems and SaaS-based ERP systems for example.  Yet the legacy application support in this type of multitenancy can get expensive fast.

Shared Everything Multitenancy is ideal for quickly on-ramping and off-ramping applications, tenants and individual system users and is what nearly all enterprise vendors claim to do.  In reality only a handful do this well.  This approach to multitenancy is based on the Shared Container approach including support for shared DBMS sessions.  Salesforce.com’s Force.com platform, VMWare WaveMaker and Zoho Creator are all examples of companies who have successfully delivered Shared Everything multitenancy.

With so much to gain by positioning an application or solution suite in the 6th and 7th models, vendors are rushing to define their own versions of Shared Everything and Custom Multitenancy.  The land grab is on in this area of the multitenancy market right now.  IBM, Microsoft and Oracle are all expected to endorse and eventually have many of their cloud-based applications in the Shared Everything model.  Each of these companies and many others will have a multi-model based approach to selling multitenancy as well.

Gartner Reference Model for Elasticity and Multitenancy

Source:  Gartner Reference Model for Elasticity and Multitenancy

Bottom line: Enterprise software vendors can accelerate evaluation cycles and sell more by differentiating on the user experience and value delivered instead of trying to create fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) by creating their own definition of multitenancy.

Roundup of Cloud Computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Forecasts, June 2011

The gap is beginning to close between the value SaaS-based applications have the potential to deliver and what customers are achieving.

While SaaS-based software vendors are making major strides in integration, reliability, system performance and usability, it is the enterprise buyer’s skepticism and high standards forcing the market to move forward.  The latest series of market forecasts and surveys reflect greater use of actual customer results and a quickening pace of progress.

Performance-Driven Cultures and SaaS Adoption

Measuring business outcomes using industry standard and company-specific metrics typifies companies getting the best results.  A lack of clarity or confusion around strategy based goals leads to low adoption and eventual abandonment of SaaS initiates.  Sales and sales operations VPs are winning the debates against home-grown or internal system development based on speed of deployment, usability and integrated analytics of SaaS applications.  Based on the surveys and research completed this year, the best SaaS implementations are designed on a firm foundation of measurable results including quantifying risk.

Performance-driven cultures have a higher success rate with SaaS pilots, are more thorough in defining their own infrastructure (IaaS) and platforms (PaaS), and also know what success looks like from a metrics-driven standpoint.   The graphic, Performance-Driven Culture: The Metrics Continuum, shown to the left, was originally published in Gartner’s Predicts 2011: Enterprise Architecture Shifting Focus to Business Value Outcomes Report, November, 11, 2010 Philip Allega, et.al supports this point.  Please click on the graphic to expand it for easier reading.

Hype is Prolonging the Peak of Inflated Expectations

The bottom line is all really matters is measurable, repeatable performance when enterprises evaluate their SaaS strategies.  Many marketing, sales, sales operations and service VPs must defend their choice of SaaS over legacy system upgrades or internal system development.  Resistance to change and complacency in IT is slowly killing many companies who must step up and keep pace with their customers to survive. People are betting their jobs on this technology.  Many in marketing, sales and service want to know how to improve and measure business strategy performance.  That’s one of the main inflexion points in SaaS marketing today.

 The reality for enterprise users is that nothing gets purchased, no matter how wonderful the claims, unless there are strong metrics that link them back to business performance.  That’s what is deflating hype in this market faster than any other factor.  You can download the Gartner Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing 2010 from the link (no opt-in).  Please click on the graphic to download the Gartner Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing 2010.

Here are short summaries of the latest cloud computing and SaaS forecasts published recently:

  • Gartner is forecasting enterprise-based spending for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications  will grow at a 16.3% compound annual growth rate through 2015. SaaS will grow at nearly double the pace of licensed enterprise applications during the forecast period.  Licensed applications will grow at a n 8.5% CAGR during the same period. The following  table, Total Software Revenue Forecast for SaaS Delivery Within the Enterprise Application Software Markets, 2007-2015 (Millions of U.S. Dollars) compares enterprise software spending by application category for the forecast period. Source: http://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=260&mode=2&PageID=3460702&id=1728009&ref=

     Total Software Revenue Forecast for SaaS Delivery Within the Enterprise Application Software Markets, 2007-2015  (Millions of U.S. Dollars) 

     

  • The Asia-Pacific (APAC) Software as a Service (SaaS) market is expected to grow from $390M in 2008 to $4.3B in 2015, at an estimated CAGR of 41.0% from 2008 to 2015. The appeal and reach of software as a service (SaaS) continue to grow rapidly among enterprises in Asia Pacific. Australia & New Zealand (ANZ) is the largest regional SaaS market in Asia Pacific. SAAS is gaining momentum in ANZ because of the markets resemblance to the North American market with better broadband penetration, availability of applications getting delivered in SaaS mode and overall greater adoption of IT in general. Source: http://professional.wsj.com/article/TPMTPW000020110214e72e002k2.html
  • Cloud middleware systems markets at $1.5B in 2010 are forecast to reach $4.3B, worldwide by 2017.  Cloud computing middleware represents the base for development of all cloud computing infrastructure as it supports systems integration and systems self-provisioning.  Market leaders are predicted to be Akamai, IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle. Source: http://wintergreenresearch.com/
  • Infonetics Research forecasts the overall managed security services market, including CPE, SaaS, and cloud services, to reach just under $17B by 2015.  SaaS and cloud-based security services are expected to make up close to half of the overall managed security services market opportunity by 2015 Worldwide SaaS revenue is forecast to grow dramatically over the next few years, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% from 2010 to 2015.  Source: WSJ Journal 
  • Cloud service adoption is up 61% from 2010 and 45% of multinational corporations (MNCs) already use cloud sourcing for at least some elements of key IT services.  Cable & Wireless and Ovum partnered to create this white paper, full of excellent insights and research data: http://www.cw.com/assets/content/pdfs/resource/ovum-cloud-wp.pdf
  • 60 percent of companies worldwide said cloud computing is a top IT priority for the next year, the sentiment is even higher in the C-suite with three in four (75 percent) C-level executives reporting cloud computing as top of mind.  According to an Avanade Research and Insights’ Global Survey: Has Cloud Computing Matured? Third Annual Report, June 2011, there is also significant purchasing of cloud services without the IT department’s knowledge, with nearly 20% of all purchases never reviewed with the CIO. Source: Avanade Research Report  
  • By 2014, cloud computing services will grow to a $45B industry a year (IDC) and SaaS to grow at 21% CAGR to touch $17.6B.  Microsoft recently published the following presentation, Grow Your Business with Cloud – Are You Ready?  You can download a copy of the presentation by clicking on the presentation to the right.
  • The global cloud computing market is expected to grow from $37.8B in 2010 to $121.1 B in 2015 at a  CAGR of 26.2% from 2010 to 2015 according to Yankee Group. SaaS is the largest segment of the cloud computing services market, accounting  as it did for 73% of the market’s revenues in 2010. The IaaS and PaaS markets are still at a nascent stage and  currently hold a small share of the Cloud computing services market. However, these are expected to witness  moderate growth due to their flexibility and cost effectiveness.Source: CSS Corp. Analysis.
  • Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) software emerged in 2009 as a fast-growing market for SaaS, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 40% projected for the next five years according to Gartner. PPM software consumption environments are changing radically, with hosted and SaaS options — as a result, most traditional on-premises vendors are forced to provide SaaS alternatives to counter new entrants and SaaS-only PPM vendors.  Source:  Competitive Landscape: SaaS Project and Portfolio Management Software, Worldwide, 2011 published 6 April 2011.

Gartner Search Analytics Shows Spike in Platform as a Service (PaaS) Inquiries in 2011

Trends of search terms from user accounts and topics of their inquiries form the catalyst of research agendas in many IT advisory firms.  At Gartner these two factors and others like them are commonly regarded as leading indicators of future IT spending.

Gartner has been delivering short analyses of these subject areas to clients in the form of reports, with the latest being Search Analytics Trends: Platform as a Service published on June 9, 2011.  This report covers user search activity from April, 2009 to March, 2011. For purposes of the report, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is defined as cloud application infrastructure services delivered as a service.  Gartner makes the point that PaaS includes no traditional software license and is expensed on a metered or utility basis.  Presented below is the time series of searches by month from the report.

A few key take-aways emerge from the report, and they are presented below:

  • Cloud Middleware Services including Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) are still unknown to many Gartner IT user clients.  As a result this area is seen with skepticism by many of their clients.  In studies of PaaS adoption from other analysts at Gartner and Forrester, it is evident that internal software development will make or break the credibility of PaaS initiatives for the long-term.
  • When Gartner IT users search for PaaS on the website and throughout online research, the four most common secondary terms are IaaS and SaaS (7.05%), Magic Quadrant (6.12%) and cloud (5.72%).  Clearly Gartner IT user clients are looking to define their own technology stack in this area and looking for a framework of reference of where PaaS fits into their own IT plans and architectures.  The competitive intensity across the analyst community will most likely go up as a result of the uncertainty many IT buyers have over PaaS.
  • The top three vendors that Gartner IT users search for are Microsoft (18%), Amazon (13%) and Tata (11%).  Additional vendors include IBM (11%), Salesforce.com (11%), SAP (7%), Google and Oracle (4%).

Bottom line: The key to PaaS adoption in larger enterprises, many of which are IT user clients of Gartner, is how successfully Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) clarify their value proposition and how their apps add value to the platform layer.

Mark Russinovich on Windows Azure, Cloud Operating Systems and Platform as a Service

Mark Russinovich is a Technical Fellow working on the Windows Azure team and is considered one of the leading experts on its architecture.   He is currently working on the Windows Azure Fabric Controller, which handles kernel-level tasks for the platform.   He explains the functions of the Fabric Controller in detail during the following video, illustrating concepts with references to data centers and legacy Microsoft operating systems.

Windows Azure:  Platform as a Service

This discussion also highlights how Windows Azure is being designed to scale for HPC-based instances and applications.  At 45 minutes, this is a great overview of the latest status on Windows Azure platform development from one of the leading software architects at Microsoft.   Despite how technical the discussion becomes at times, Mark Russinovich does a great job of referring back to what it means to data center requirements and simplifying complex concepts through examples.

Source attribution: http://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/Going+Deep/Mark-Russinovich-Windows-Azure-Cloud-Operating-Systems-and-Platform-as-a-Service

Insights Into Creating Scalable Java Applications on the Windows Azure Platform

David is a former Java Architect and in this presentation, he provides a great overview of the Azure platform, its key components. He also provides a great tutorial of how cloud architectures vary for Flickr, Facebook, SlideShare and Twitter, and explains how Java applications can be made highly scalable on the Azure platform.

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