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This last few days has been interesting.  One of my newer business ventures (extaCloud) had its first global summit (sounds grand, right?) and I’ve been locked in a hotel suite in New York working through use cases for a product we’re launching early next year.

But ignore that, this post is about something that happened in the week previous that I have taken a while to marinade over as it was interestingly controversial.

Picture the scene.  Happy go lucky consultant / evangelist (that’s me) sat with US based customer shooting the breeze about how awesome Azure was.

If you know anything about me you will know that as far as Azure is concerned, I am a fan, and although this customer can’t embrace Azure whole-heartedly, they get it and appreciate its place in the world of IT.

We were talking about the latest announcements and advances being made in the Azure space and working through our viewpoints about some of the Azure features, functions and services that were coming out of the hanger in Redmond when (literally) out of the blue, the customer makes a profound statement:

‘ …all this new stuff in Azure is cool shit, but so what?  I just want to run workloads effectively so I wish Microsoft would focus more energy on getting VMs and all the associated necessary bits and pieces working really, really well and put less energy into the cool new shit that is just marketing fodder that few businesses will use as it’s too leading edge…”

BAM! Mind blown.

I’m still marinading but I kinda get it.

Customers that are not at the bleeding edge of IT but do understand the opportunity afforded to them by the Cloud want to get involved.

If we park the core productivity opportunity brought by Office 365 (to my mind, elements of Office 365 are simply no-brainers) these businesses seem to want to get involved by taking something they understand, such as business systems that are delivered from within on-premises virtual infrastructure, and shift them to ‘virtual infrastructure in the Cloud’.  A change that is not as dramatic (from the viewpoint of the customer) but still gets them in the game.

What the future use of the Cloud holds for these customers beach-heading in their own space remains to be seen, but if they had ultra-confidence in what they see as the core platform (in this case Azure virtual machines, storage and networks) being simple, scalable, reliable, performant, manageable and stable (phew!) then when they’re updating, modernising or even just doing some technological navel gazing Microsoft will have them locked-in in the right way and they won’t look beyond the Microsoft Cloud stack.

I guess the reality is that Microsoft is big enough to spread out across the Cloud spectrum, but perhaps a re-focus on the more ‘traditional’ would serve them well in the long game?

more to follow…