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Centrify’s Tim Steinkopf On How To Think Like A Cybersecurity CEO

Centrify’s Tim Steinkopf On How To Think Like A Cybersecurity CEO

Tim Steinkopf is CEO at Centrify, where he leads the management, strategic direction, and execution of the company’s vision. Tim initially joined Centrify as Chief Financial Officer in October 2011 and took over as CEO in January 2019. Before Centrify, he held CFO positions at Secure Computing Corporation (acquired by McAfee), SumTotal Systems, Purfresh, and Silicon Entertainment. Tim has also held executive and management positions with Watt/Peterson and Ernst & Young.

Under Tim’s leadership, Centrify is only one of five cybersecurity companies with six or more years on Inc.’s annual list of America’s 5000 fastest-growing private companies. Centrify’s many honors include being awarded Gartner Peer Insights Customer’s Choice 2019 award earlier this year.

Tim is also a member of the Forbes Tech Council, and his latest article, Five Skills Necessary To Transition From CFO to CEO, shares how the lessons he learned from serving as a CFO for over two decades prepared him for the role of CEO. He says the one clear key attribute of CFOs is the ability to apply a metrics-driven approach to all facets of a business. The ability to orchestrate initiatives, programs, and strategies across the many departments of a company and have them all contribute to the metrics that define organizational success is vital and provides CFOs invaluable training in their progression to leading a company.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Tim recently for an executive Q&A to learn how Centrify is separating itself from the pack in crowded cybersecurity space, under his leadership and in partnership with private equity investor Thoma Bravo:

Louis:            Centrify is only one of five cybersecurity companies with six or more years on Inc.’s annual list of America’s 5000 fastest-growing private companies. What are the most effective growth strategies that also deliver strong profitability today that keep Centrify growing?

Tim:                I’m going to break this into two pieces because I think there’s a difference between growth versus profitability.

On the growth side, you can only attain the Inc. 5000 ranking by looking at a cumulative period of time. So, it isn’t that we’ve just grown for six years, it’s that we’ve had the ability to sustain growth over a rolling four-year period. To maintain placement on that list, we’ve had to excel at the details of how we serve our customers. It is quite an accomplishment and congratulations to all the current and former Centrify employees who were involved in that.

The real driver is our history of innovation. Centrify has always been an innovator, and we’ve always paid attention to our market, our drivers, and what our customers are saying. We’re trying to be a step or two ahead of our customers. If you’re able to do that, and you’re able to continue to innovate, then you can drive additional adoption of your solution set, and continue to drive growth.

Profitability does go hand in hand, but it’s slightly different because now you’re talking about effective, efficient growth. As CFO, I always had an eye on ROI and how to put capital, resources, and additional headcount to use, such that we could drive growth. Then you often ask yourself if you are driving it as efficiently as possible. And that’s where making the right kind of bets in technology for running and growing the business make a difference. It’s also about deploying into the correct markets so that you can land and then sustain growth.

Louis:            In a previous interview, you mentioned the need for balanced metrics and change management strategies. Would you like to comment on those aspects of being a CEO?

Tim:                It all comes down to the role of the CEO, leading a company to accomplish its goals. CEOs report to the board of directors, who ultimately set the goals for any company. And when you’re a CEO, you want to do everything possible to get to those goals. Knowing how the different parts of the company run and knowing where and how to allocate resources and change management all contributes to achieving the company’s goals.

Louis:            How has Thoma Bravo, after becoming the majority investor in Centrify, helped your company pursue new partner, product, and service initiatives?

Tim:               TB is known for placing winning bests, and investing in Centrify is a real feather in our cap. It’s seen by partners, prospects, and customers as a vote of confidence. We’ve been in business for over 15 years, are perennially in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, a leader in the Forrester Wave, and a leader in the channel as recognized by Computer Reseller news. We’ve got our own pedigree, and that’s great. Then you add on the fact that TB is a majority investor, and our reputation is even stronger.

Regarding product and service initiatives, TB spends a lot of time and effort on each investment, and they have a great track record, specifically in InfoSec and cybersecurity. They came in and said, “Hey, our investment thesis is to take Centrify and split it into two companies, where each will have a better ability to focus and compete, and that will drive more efficient resource allocation, and growth opportunities.” Centrify current iteration formed as a result of the investment thesis being implemented, and we’re excelling in our chosen market.

Louis:            Gartner Peer Insights awarded Centrify with the 2019 Customer’s Choice recognition recently. What do you attribute your customers’ success to, and their willingness to share their stories online on forums include Gartner’s Peer Insights and others? They’re so critical to sale cycles right now.

Tim:                Customer references are so important, and this is where we have to give credit to the greater Centrify organization. We have a customer-centric attitude, and that is why our customers are willing to speak up, which gives us the opportunity to compete and win awards, including Customer’s Choice 2019 and others.

Behind the scenes, it includes building and delivering a solid solution set combined with services. Once our solution is installed, we work quickly and in close collaboration with our customers to make sure it’s working and meeting their requirements. We view every customer relationship as a partnership, and how we implement our identity-centric PAM solutions for them is essential to a successful journey for them. We measure our success by our customers’ results, and if they are achieving their goals.

Louis:            Privileged Access Management (PAM) shows potential in 2020 as a growth market. What are Centrify’s plans to capitalize on this market momentum?

Tim:                That’s absolutely the market we’re in and serving customers with solutions for today. Going back 10 to 15 years, legacy approaches to PAM were thought of only in terms of password vaulting. We’ve strived to stay in step with our customers, as they’ve shown us that deploying a vault-only approach to PAM is not enough. They need to move beyond the vault and move to an identity-centric approach.

When organizations deploy a vault-only solution, they’re enabling login with shared admin or root accounts, and so that is a generic approach that is not identity-centric. Centrify’s solution helps organizations to centralize authentication and have their employees request access to specific resources with specific privilege elevation rights while also tracking all activity for audits, compliance, forensics, and regulatory purposes. Our customers place a high value on all of these aspects of our solution as it provides non-repudiation across their environments and better protects resources against cyberthreats.

The real potential for growth are the drivers moving PAM beyond the vault. It’s becoming more identity-centric, with a least privilege access approach. That message is resonating across the industry, and people get it. The biggest driver is the fact that 80% of the breaches are occurring because privileged credentials are getting compromised. Since they’re not identity-centric, too much privilege exists, which means the attack surface is greater, and it continues to get breached.

Louis:            What are the most challenging aspects of being CEO of a fast-growing cyber security company today?

Tim:                The most challenging aspects of being a CEO are the most exciting. One of the most energizing is competing in a very dynamic market. That’s what motivates me and why I’ve been in tech a long time.

Advances in technology drive the market, and it motivates companies, customers, and investors to take advantage of those advances and drive their business forward. At Centrify, our core focus is to capitalize on technology gains to help our customers achieve their goals by bringing new products to market. These include cloud, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), machine learning, and other key strategic technologies. We’re always interested in utilizing new technologies, as the bad actors are also doing their own development of new ways to compromise our customers and their systems. They are looking for the weakest link.

We are completely committed to what we’re doing to stay ahead of those bad actors. Since technology continues to evolve and change, it makes the industry/market very dynamic.

Louis:            When you visit with Centrify customers, what’s the most interesting feedback you’re hearing from them?

Tim:                Our customer is normally the infrastructure and/or security people and teams. Who we primarily interact with is determined by the structure of a given customer’s organization. The people deploying, running, and supporting the networks and IT environments, who are responsible for those areas, are who we primarily work with.

The one common theme we hear from them is that they’re just trying to keep up. They look to us for help doing that, specifically how they can make privileged access management more efficient and effective across their organizations. Our customers look to Centrify so they can capitalize on our decades of expertise and complete commitment to providing privileged access management solutions that scale with their business.

They all know that it only takes one compromised, privileged credential to ruin their day, affecting millions of customers and costing hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars. One of our challenges in helping our customers is to help them face the challenge of educating upwards in their organizations as to the importance of having the proper tools for cybersecurity.

Louis:            When you get invited into a prospect’s bake-off to compare PAM vendors, why does Centrify win? And how do you proceed into a Proof of Concept following winning a bake-off?

Tim:                The number one reason we win is because we have a strong vision around identity-centric privileged access management. In addition, many organizations are undergoing digital transformations, and the majority of organizations have a hybrid IT and cloud environment. This includes on-premises, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments, and ephemeral environments. The ability to manage all of those different aspects with a central approach to identity is much more efficient and effective in the long run.

We see customers looking to make this their ongoing infrastructure deployment strategy, which will set them up for the future. That, and having a more encompassing solution set that addresses their greatest security risks are how we are differentiating today.

Louis:            Your customer base appears to have a robust multi-cloud strategy, combining AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. What’s a major challenge many are facing when migrating to cloud, and what does the future look like in terms of securing their identity and privileged access?

Tim:                Multi-cloud didn’t really shape our strategy because we are based on a central repository for identity. Implicit in that approach is having everybody log in as themselves while providing them the freedom to do their jobs. And when it comes to least privileged access, we focus on allowing just enough access to every member to get their work done, while tracking every login to ensure compliance.

We’ve always supported that vision with an architecture that would span on-premises and cloud systems because nobody is going to completely do multi-cloud overnight. It’s a journey that begins by recognizing the business need for a hybrid IT environment that includes multi-cloud integration and platforms.

Our architecture is based on a cloud-based privileged access service that connects to wherever our customer’s identity store is. Through the use of cloud connectors, we can provide centralized identity and privileged access into your workloads running within a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). We find most customers have multiple VPCs and their architected to be generic, which reflects the fact our customers end up with more than one infrastructure as a service platform provider. We’re able to handle that and provide privileged access management across all those environments.

It’s the strength of our privileged access service and our cloud connectors give our customers the option of selecting a thin client that deploys on their workloads within different VPCs, and then comes back to the service and communicates with various connected identity stores. It’s designed to be a very efficient architecture, and it plays well in ephemeral, quickly-changing elastic environments to support the requirements and scale needs of the business. Our architecture flexes and provides identity and privileged access management across their unique cloud and on-premise system configurations.

 

The State Of Cloud Business Intelligence, 2019

  • An all-time high 48% of organizations say cloud BI is either “critical” or “very important” to their operations in 2019.
  • Marketing & Sales place the greatest importance on cloud BI in 2019.
  • Small organizations of 100 employees or less are the most enthusiastic, perennial adopters and supporters of cloud BI.
  • The most preferred cloud BI providers are Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

These and other insights are from Dresner Advisory Services’ 2019 Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence Market Study. The 8th annual report focuses on end-user deployment trends and attitudes toward cloud computing and business intelligence (BI), defined as the technologies, tools, and solutions that rely on one or more cloud deployment models. What makes the study noteworthy is the depth of focus around the perceived benefits and barriers for cloud BI, the importance of cloud BI, and current and planned usage.

“We began tracking and analyzing the cloud BI market dynamic in 2012 when adoption was nascent. Since that time, deployments of public cloud BI applications are increasing, with organizations citing substantial benefits versus traditional on-premises implementations,” said Howard Dresner, founder, and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. Please see page 10 of the study for specifics on the methodology.

Key insights gained from the report include the following:

  • An all-time high 48% of organizations say cloud BI is either “critical” or “very important” to their operations in 2019. Organizations have more confidence in cloud BI than ever before, according to the study’s results. 2019 is seeing a sharp upturn in cloud BI’s importance, driven by the trust and credibility organizations have for accessing, analyzing and storing sensitive company data on cloud platforms running BI applications.

  • Marketing & Sales place the greatest importance on cloud BI in 2019. Business Intelligence Competency Centers (BICC) and IT departments have an above-average interest in cloud BI as well, with their combined critical and very important scores being over 50%. Dresner’s research team found that Operations had the greatest duality of scores, with critical and not important being reported at comparable levels for this functional area. Dresner’s analysis indicates Operations departments often rely on cloud BI to benchmark and improve existing processes while re-engineering legacy process areas.

  • Small organizations of 100 employees or less are the most enthusiastic, perennial adopters and supporters of cloud BI. As has been the case in previous years’ studies, small organizations are leading all others in adopting cloud BI systems and platforms.  Perceived importance declines only slightly in mid-sized organizations (101-1,000 employees) and some large organizations (1,001-5,000 employees), where minimum scores of important offset declines in critical.

  • The retail/wholesale industry considers cloud BI the most important, followed by technology and advertising industries. Organizations competing in the retail/wholesale industry see the greatest value in adopting cloud BI to gain insights into improving their customer experiences and streamlining supply chains. Technology and advertising industries are industries that also see cloud BI as very important to their operations. Just over 30% of respondents in the education industry see cloud BI as very important.

  • R&D departments are the most prolific users of cloud BI systems today, followed by Marketing & Sales. The study highlights that R&D leading all other departments in existing cloud BI use reflects broader potential use cases being evaluated in 2019. Marketing & Sales is the next most prolific department using cloud BI systems.

  • Finance leads all others in their adoption of private cloud BI platforms, rivaling IT in their lack of adoption for public clouds. R&D departments are the next most likely to be relying on private clouds currently. Marketing and Sales are the most likely to take a balanced approach to private and public cloud adoption, equally adopting private and public cloud BI.

  • Advanced visualization, support for ad-hoc queries, personalized dashboards, and data integration/data quality tools/ETL tools are the four most popular cloud BI requirements in 2019. Dresner’s research team found the lowest-ranked cloud BI feature priorities in 2019 are social media analysis, complex event processing, big data, text analytics, and natural language analytics. This years’ analysis of most and least popular cloud BI requirements closely mirror traditional BI feature requirements.

  • Marketing and Sales have the greatest interest in several of the most-required features including personalized dashboards, data discovery, data catalog, collaborative support, and natural language analytics. Marketing & Sales also have the highest level of interest in the ability to write to transactional applications. R&D leads interest in ad-hoc query, big data, text analytics, and social media analytics.

  • The Retail/Wholesale industry leads interest in several features including ad-hoc query, dashboards, data integration, data discovery, production reporting, search interface, data catalog, and ability to write to transactional systems. Technology organizations give the highest score to advanced visualization and end-user self-service. Healthcare respondents prioritize data mining, end-user data blending, and location analytics, the latter likely for asset tracking purposes. In-memory support scores highest with Financial Services respondent organizations.

  • Marketing & Sales rely on a broader base of third party data connectors to get greater value from their cloud BI systems than their peers. The greater the scale, scope and depth of third-party connectors and integrations, the more valuable marketing and sales data becomes. Relying on connectors for greater insights into sales productivity & performance, social media, online marketing, online data storage, and simple productivity improvements are common in Marketing & Sales. Finance requiring integration to Salesforce reflects the CRM applications’ success transcending customer relationships into advanced accounting and financial reporting.

  • Subscription models are now the most preferred licensing strategy for cloud BI and have progressed over the last several years due to lower risk, lower entry costs, and lower carrying costs. Dresner’s research team found that subscription license and free trial (including trial and buy, which may also lead to subscription) are the two most preferred licensing strategies by cloud BI customers in 2019. Dresner Advisory Services predicts new engagements will be earned using subscription models, which is now seen as, at a minimum, important to approximately 90% of the base of respondents.

  • 60% of organizations adopting cloud BI rank Amazon Web Services first, and 85% rank AWS first or second. 43% choose Microsoft Azure first and 69% pick Azure first or second. Google Cloud closely trails Azure as the first choice among users but trails more widely after that. IBM Bluemix is the first choice of 12% of organizations responding in 2019.

Public Cloud Soaring To $331B By 2022 According To Gartner

Gartner is predicting the worldwide public cloud services market will grow from $182.4B in 2018 to $214.3B in 2019, a 17.5% jump in just a year. Photo credit: Getty

  • Gartner predicts the worldwide public cloud service market will grow from $182.4B in 2018 to $331.2B in 2022, attaining a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.6%.
  • Spending on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is predicted to increase from $30.5B in 2018 to $38.9B in 2019, growing 27.5% in a year.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) spending is predicted to grow from $15.6B in 2018 to $19B in 2019, growing 21.8% in a year.
  • Business Intelligence, Supply Chain Management, Project and Portfolio Management and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) will see the fastest growth in end-user spending on SaaS applications through 2022.

Gartner’s annual forecast of worldwide public cloud service revenue was published last week, and it includes many interesting insights into how the research firm sees the current and future landscape of public cloud computing. Gartner is predicting the worldwide public cloud services market will grow from $182.4B in 2018 to $214.3B in 2019, a 17.5% jump in just a year. By the end of 2019, more than 30% of technology providers’ new software investments will shift from cloud-first to cloud-only, further reducing license-based software spending and increasing subscription-based cloud revenue.

The following graphic compares worldwide public cloud service revenue by segment from 2018 to 2022. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.

Comparing Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGRs) of worldwide public cloud service revenue segments from 2018 to 2022 reflects IaaS’ anticipated rapid growth. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.

Gartner provided the following data table this week as part of their announcement:

  • Business Intelligence, Supply Chain Management, Project and Portfolio Management and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) will see the fastest growth in end-user spending on SaaS applications through 2022.  Gartner is predicting end-user spending on Business Intelligence SaaS applications will grow by 23.3% between 2017 and 2022.  Spending on SaaS-based Supply Chain Management applications will grow by 21.2% between 2017 and 2022. Project and Portfolio Management SaaS-based applications will grow by 20.9% between 2017 and 2022. End-user spending on SaaS ERP systems will grow by 19.2% between 2017 and 2022.

Sources: Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Public Cloud Revenue to Grow 17.5 Percent in 2019 and Forecast: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2016-2022, 4Q18 Update (Gartner client access)

Seven Ways Microsoft Redefined Azure For The Enterprise And Emerged A Leader

  • cloud startupsAs of Q2, 2016 Microsoft Azure has achieved 100% year-over-year revenue growth and now has the 2nd largest market share of the Cloud Infrastructure Services market according to Synergy Research.
  • Microsoft’s FY16 Q4 earnings show that Azure attained 102% revenue growth in the latest fiscal year and computing usage more than doubling year-over-year.
  • 451 Research predicts critical enterprise workload categories including data, analytics, and business applications will more than double from 7% to 16% for data workloads and 4% to 9% for business applications.
  • Cloud-first workload deployments in enterprises are becoming more common with 38% of respondents to a recent 451Research survey stating their enterprises are prioritizing cloud over on-premise.

451 Research’s latest study of cloud computing adoption in the enterprise, The Voice of the Enterprise: Cloud Transformation – Workloads and Key Projects provides insights into how enterprises are changing their adoption of public, private and hybrid cloud for specific workloads and applications. The research was conducted in May and June 2016 with more than 1,200 IT professionals worldwide. The study illustrates how quickly enterprises are adopting cloud-first deployment strategies to accelerate time-to-market of new apps while reducing IT costs and launch new business models that are by nature cloud-intensive. Add to this the need all enterprises have to forecast and track cloud usage, costs and virtual machine (VM) usage and value, and it becomes clear why Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are now leaders in the enterprise. The following graphic from Synergy Research Group’s latest study of the Cloud Infrastructure Services provides a comparison of AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM, Google, and others.

Cloud Infrastructure Services

Seven Ways Microsoft Is Redefining Azure For The Enterprise

Being able to innovate faster by building, deploying and managing applications globally on a single cloud platform is what many enterprises are after today. And with over 100 potential apps on their cloud roadmaps, development teams are evaluating cloud platforms based on their potential contributions to new app development and business models first.

AWS and Microsoft Azure haven proven their ability to support new app development and deployment and are the two most-evaluated cloud platforms with dev teams I’ve talked with today. Of the two, Microsoft Azure is gaining momentum in the enterprise.

Here are the seven ways Microsoft is making this happen:

  • Re-orienting Microsoft Azure Cloud Services strategies so enterprise accounts can be collaborators in new app creation. Only Microsoft is coming at selling Cloud Services in the enterprise from the standpoint of how they can help do what senior management teams at their customers want most, which is make their app roadmap a reality. AWS is excellent at ISV and developer support, setting a standard in this area.
  • Giving enterprises the option of using existing relational SQL databases, noSQL data stores, and analytics services when building new cloud apps. All four dominant cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, Google, and IBM) support architectures, frameworks, tools and programming languages that enable varying levels of compatibility with databases, data stores, and analytics. Enterprises that have a significant amount of their legacy app inventory in .NET are choosing Azure for cloud app development. Microsoft’s support for Node.js, PHP, Python and other development languages is at parity with other cloud platforms. Why Microsoft Azure is winning in this area is the designed-in support for legacy Microsoft architectures that enterprises standardized their IT infrastructure on years before. Microsoft is selling a migration strategy here and is providing the APIs, web services, and programming tools to enable enterprises to deliver cloud app roadmaps faster as a result. Like AWS, Microsoft also has created a global development community that is developing and launching apps specifically aimed at enterprise cloud migration.  Due to all of these factors, both AWS and Microsoft are often considered more open cloud platforms by enterprises than others. In contrast, Salesforce platforms are becoming viewed as proprietary, charging premium prices at renewal time. An example of this strategy is the extra 20% Salesforce charges for Lightning experience at renewal time according to Gartner in their recent report, Salesforce Lightning Sales Cloud and Service Cloud Unilaterally Replaced Older Editions; Negotiate Now to Avoid Price Increases and Shelfware Published 31 May 2016, written by analysts Jo Liversidge, Adnan Zijadic.
  • Simplifying cloud usage monitoring, consolidated views of cloud fees and costs including cost predictions and working with enterprises to create greater cloud standardization and automation. AWS’ extensive partner community has solutions that address each of these areas, and AWS’ roadmap reflects this is a core focus of current and future development. The AWS platform has standardization and automation as design objectives for the platform. Enterprises evaluating Azure are running pilots to test the Azure Usage API, which allows subscribing services to pull usage data. This API supports reporting to the hourly level, resource metadata information, and supports Showback and Chargeback models. Azure deployments in production and pilots I’ve seen are using the API to build web services and dashboards to measure and predict usage and costs.
  • Openly addressing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) concerns and providing APIs and Web services to avoid vendor lock-in. The question of data independence and TCO dominates sustainability and expansion of all cloud decisions. From the CIOs, CFOs and design teams I’ve spoken with, Microsoft and Amazon are providing enterprises assistance in defining long-term cost models and are willing to pass along the savings from economies of scale achieved on their platforms. Microsoft Azure is also accelerating in the enterprise due to the pervasive adoption of the many cloud-based subscriptions of Office365, which enables enterprises to begin moving their workloads to the cloud.
  • Having customer, channel, and services all on a single, unified global platform to gain greater insights into customers and deliver new apps faster. Without exception, every enterprise I’ve spoken with regarding their cloud platform strategy has multichannel and omnichannel apps on their roadmap. Streamlining and simplifying the customer experience and providing them with real-time responsiveness drive the use cases of the new apps under development today. Salesforce has been successful using their platform to replace legacy CRM systems and build the largest community of CRM and sell-side partners globally today.
  • Enabling enterprise cloud platforms and apps to globally scale. Nearly every enterprise looking at cloud initiatives today needs a global strategy and scale. From a leading telecom provider based in Russia looking to scale throughout Asia to financial services firms in London looking to address Brexit issues, each of these firms’ cloud apps roadmaps is based on global scalability and regional requirements. Microsoft has 108 data centers globally, and AWS operates 35 Availability Zones within 13 geographic Regions around the world, with 9 more Availability Zones and 4 more Regions coming online throughout the next year. To expand globally, Salesforce chose AWS as their preferred cloud infrastructure provider. Salesforce is not putting their IOT and earlier Heroku apps on Amazon. Salesforces’ decision to standardize on AWS for global expansion and Microsoft’s globally distributed data centers show that these two platforms have achieved global scale.
  • Enterprises are demanding more control over their security infrastructure, network, data protection, identity and access control strategies, and are looking for cloud platforms that provide that flexibility. Designing, deploying and maintaining enterprise cloud security models is one of the most challenging aspects of standardizing on a cloud platform. AWS, Azure, Google and IBM all are prioritizing research and development (R&D) spending in this area. Of the enterprises I’ve spoken with, there is an urgent need for being able to securely connect virtual machines (VMs) within a cloud instance to on-premise data centers. AWS, Azure, Google, and IBM can all protect VMs and their network traffic from on-premise to cloud locations. AWS and Azure are competitive to the other two cloud platforms in this area and have enterprises running millions of VMs concurrently in this configuration and often use that as a proof point to new customers evaluating their platforms.

Bottom line: Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure are the first cloud platforms proving they can scale globally to support enterprises’ vision of world-class cloud app portfolio development.

Sources:

451 Research: The Voice of the Enterprise: Cloud Transformation – Workloads and Key Projects

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide 2016 Reprint

Microsoft Earnings Release FY16 Q4 – Azure revenue grows 102% year-over-year

Synergy Research Group’s latest study of the Cloud Infrastructure Services

 

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.

An Overview of Microsoft’s Azure Platform

The following is an excellent presentation that explains the core concepts of Microsoft's Cloud Computing strategy. Included is an overview of the Microsoft Windows Azure strategy with explanations and pricing of each component.

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