Working Together to Deliver the Cloud: Microsoft and Google Recent Developments

Working Together to Deliver the Cloud

If you had any notion of not taking the cloud seriously for your business, your assumptions will certainly be challenged this year.

This week alone has seen two significant developments that have boosted the visibility (if not the viability) of the cloud.

First, there was Microsoft’s purchase of Internet telephony company Skype for $8.5 billion. There is a lot of speculation on whether this was a good business move for Microsoft, but regardless of how it turns out, it’s clear that Microsoft is betting big on the cloud as platform instead of Windows exclusively.

Google’s announcement at Google I/O of the Chromebook, a cloud-only netbook device targeted squarely at businesses looking to tap into the benefits of the cloud (portability, constant back-up, instant updates), also emphasized the rise of the cloud.

And Microsoft and Google are simply the big names drawing attention to the cloud. Firms like Open-Xchange and SugarCRM have been delivering solid software-as-a-service solutions for quite some time, quietly demonstrating the strengths of the cloud to end users and vendor partners for years. Now that the big names are stirring things up, end users are increasingly becoming attracted to the cloud.

But are vendors in the cloud ecosystem ready to take full advantage of this coming growth?

Peter Lorant, head of channel for Google Apps EMEA, recently highlighted some challenges for vendors in cloud space, who may not be approaching the cloud with the full-on conviction needed. “Many IT resellers treat cloud computing as just another IT project. Some VARs who grew up making fat margins implementing legacy information systems, such as Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes, do not look beyond the services revenue from migrating companies to new cloud solutions. This is a shame.

Partners should view cloud computing services as a platform, which opens up a universe of opportunity,” Lorant added. “A skilled partner can help customers adjust and fully benefit from the unprecedented speed of innovation, as well as introducing businesses to further services and options, using the new platform, in a scalable and cost-effective way.”

Lorant, who clearly is trying to push Google Apps to early adopters, still makes a good point: cloud should not be treated as a piecemeal project for IT departments. Yes, there are some savings to be found here and there if cloud projects are implemented in a scattered way, but those cost savings and benefits are magnified enormously when deployed in a unified manner.

Vendors need to work with their customers to deliver deliberate phased-in deployments of cloud services, instead of scattered “let’s see what sticks to the wall” approaches. The cloud is mature enough to create such plans, since there are already plenty of cloud providers out there to deliver a variety of great services to end users.

Contribution By Rafael Laguna, CEO, Open-Xchange

Rafael Laguna was co-founder of Open-Xchange Inc. and chairman of the board until he took over responsibility as CEO in January 2008. In 2001, Laguna initiated the technology partnership between Open-Xchange’s development team and SUSE Linux — today a Novell business. The result of this partnership, SUSE Linux Openexchange Server, became the best selling Linux-based groupware solution. Most recently, Laguna was crucial to the extension of Open-Xchange’s product portfolio and formed the partnership with the world’s largest web host by known servers, 1&1 Internet AG.

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