Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Cloud Revolution

The Cloud Revolution

Cloud computing spending will account for 25% of annual IT expenditure growth by 2012 and nearly a third of the growth the following year. 

 “The battle for Cloud dominance is heating up, with the release of Office 365, it will be very interesting to see where the next big play comes from.”


The Cloud has been around for a little while now. The development of the cloud has taken place over the last few years, led in the most part by Google’s innovations in Email, Document storage Cloud Apps and their SharePoint Alternative in Google Sites.

The competition has been growing with more and more Cloud providers flooding the market in various guises. There is a simple reason for this – The Cloud is the method through which systems and software is going to be delivered to companies in the future – resistance to this is the equivalent of insisting that you will only communicate with clients via fax (or telegram!) rather than email.

Microsoft’s cloud has three guises BPOS (soon to be Office 365), Azure and Windows Server Hyper V. The most relevant of these as far as most businesses are concerned is BPOS/Office 365.

As the infographic shows, Google Apps currently has a strong hold in the marketplace but any betting man would be a fool to think that was going to last with Microsoft having a multi million pound UK TV advertising campaign in the pipeline. They are due to launch their ‘Cloud Power’ campaign in the US this week – with the UK not lagging far behind.
Think the launch of Windows 95 all over again but this time aimed directly at business.

Advertising is something that Microsoft is very good at: think about the Windows 7 party campaign – whilst possibly the worst concept of all time – the buzz it generated was enormous. All social media sites were packed with mocking posts and videos. The goal of reaching their target market was reached easily and mostly through the work of techies who had put together their own – highly entertaining – content.

‘Cloud Power’ is targeted differently as it is aimed directly at business rather than at individuals who like to stay up to date with their software. It is also a concept rather than a simple and understood product. Many of us have been trying to bring home the message that companies should be moving to The Cloud but few of us have the experience, not to mention the financial clout of Microsoft.

To say Microsoft Office 365 is going to be a game changer is an understatement – despite what many ideological commentators may think. The ability to continue using familiar programmes in a powerful, rich, fully integrated environment with enterprise grade security on a pay as you use basis is going to be attractive not only to big business but importantly smaller companies, for whom issues like user training are a big concern.

Moving to Office 365 will mean that companies don’t have to worry about compatibility issues which exist with Google Docs as the vast majority of users open files with MS Office anyway. You won’t need user training or have the big hit of software upgrades – costs will be regular and manageable which in these hard economic times will be a major positive for the market.

What such an advertising campaign does spell out though is the shift in emphasis onto the smaller business market rather than relying on a trickle down from corporates. Using TV advertising for Business means that Microsoft is aiming The Cloud directly at the 4 million small businesses operating in the UK today – similar to the Citrix scheme of its (rather strange)TV marketing campaign for Gotomeeting.

With the game changing on the Microsoft front though – others are sure to respond. It’s going to be a very interesting period in the on-going battle for technical dominance.


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