Microsoft and IBM the Future-Part 2

Earlier in the week I wrote about the success of our first two IFB 2014 events where our attendees heard from IBM and Microsoft on their views of the changing world of technology and how this is impacting the way businesses and organisations operate now and how they will need to operate in the future to meet ever changing demands.

Part 1 of the BLOG focussed on IBM’s view of this, In the second instalment we look at what Microsoft head of technology in the UK  James Akrigg (you can follow him on twitter @jakrigg) shared with us regarding how Microsoft are delivering their “Cloud first, Mobile first” strategy to help businesses innovate and evolve.

As with IBM the Microsoft focus was very much on our favourite disruptive technology The Cloud (as an aside I’ve just spent a couple of interesting days with NetApp discussing how cloud is disruptive to business models, not just disruptive technology, more later!).To pinch a quote from new Microsoft head Satya Nadella

“Everything we do in the world going forward is about ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence. IT is an amazing opportunity.”

What James shared with our audience really underlined how Microsoft’s focus is changing to deliver on this promise.

Microsoft’s cloud offering is vast, a massive range of services delivered on a huge scale for both businesses and consumers alike.

As with IBM the view of how IT budget is currently spent is an important one, 63% of the current budget is just spent on “keeping the lights on”, interestingly for all the huge innovations in technology we’ve seen in the last few years, those figures have remained pretty much unchanged and are almost identical to the equivalent ones of 2008 and each subsequent year.

With so much of the budget spent on keeping the systems running it doesn’t leave lots of scope technical innovation to support the needs of business.

James then delivered some fantastic examples with Office365 of just how practically a cloud based solution can change the way a business delivers services to its users allowing them to innovate process and work patterns.

365 for those who don’t know, delivers “back office” services such as email, collaboration, communications and file storage as a subscription model giving a quick and easy method for deploying enterprise applications across a business. These can scale as needed and be delivered to any device in any location, real infrastructure agility, all without you needing to actually worry about purchasing, deploying or maintaining any of it.

Although it’s clear Microsoft’s future is all about the Cloud, one of the most compelling benefits of Microsoft’s cloud offering come from their on premise heritage. It is this heritage that gives them the ability to build hybrid solutions using the best of cloud services, with on premise solutions when needed and to deliver it seamlessly, this is a huge advantage and shouldn’t be underestimated, because remember not everything you have may be suitable for the cloud.

Wowing folk with the power of 365 wasn’t the end, the second pillar of Microsoft’s strategic focus is “mobile first”. I heard a great quote a few weeks back about those designing business applications should no longer bolt on the idea of mobility, it has to be a fundamental part of a solution design and that certainly seems a view shared my Microsoft. The ubiquitous part of Nadellas’ statement is pointed directly at the  mobility we all now take for granted, how many of us today seriously don’t expect to be able to access our stuff from anywhere? be it corporate email, key documentation, sales figures or Facebook and twitter. We just expect it to be there.

Mobility is the new norm

Heck I’m even writing this on the train posting drafts back to the cloud!

Microsoft get that, cloud infrastructure delivering services to a massive range of devices, corporate laptop, smartphone, tablets and consumer devices including games consoles and of course if you own fruit or robot related devices Microsoft have realised they are a software and services company, so they are delivering all of these enterprise services to a full range of end user devices, because in the end, we don’t and shouldn’t need to care about the device, we just want our stuff.

However as James showed our delegates Microsoft are putting massive investment into trying to take a big slice of the device pie…an apple flavoured one probably!

The purchase of Nokia’s device business shows that, and Microsoft are really making some very nice devices, from the attractive Surface Pro 3 to a great range of phones, starting at the excellent priced Lumia 630 (fully featured Smartphone for less than a £100).

There is some real smart thinking around this as well from Microsoft in the 8.1 software releases, the idea of a single app development platform, meaning develop for laptop, deliver to tablet and phone as well, that has huge implications for the development of apps for your business, lowering cost and speeding up deployment.

More practical stuff as well, 8.1 for the desktop, allowing Windows to run on cheaper lower powered hardware to provide devices competing with the entry level Android market.

Plenty of  thought around life balance, with addition of profiles to windows phone and native dual SIM support allowing separation of work and personal experience without having to wander around with multiple devices.

Is it important that Microsoft have you using their devices, not really, but it is important Microsoft continue to invest,as James showed, the development and innovations Microsoft are making in their devices in the end benefit all users, regardless of technology choice, do Microsoft have a great end to end solution, certainly, but it’s not a necessity to use all of it to gain the benefits of Microsoft’s vast technology range.

James rounded up by sharing some of the innovation Microsoft are doing using mobile and cloud to truly change the way we do business, from retail to education and healthcare.

One powerful consideration that James left us with and for me this was something that can not be underestimated in your strategic planning, Microsoft’s primary focus for its software development today, is cloud, cloud before on-premise, with those cloud solutions potentially making it to the on-premise versions of these applications, but that is only potentially. There is the possibility that some future Microsoft services will never appear on-premise.

Is Microsoft moving to live the phrase “Cloud First, Mobile First” it certainly looks like it and I thought it was summed up nicely in this little graphic that James closed with.

image

The cloud certainly is Microsoft’s future and we’d be King Kanute’esque in our strategic view if we felt otherwise.

If you want to find out more about Office365 you can here

If this strategic view of the world is something of interest to you, then we have more great IFB 2014 events coming up, July 10th the future of agile infrastructure is in focus, we are joined by Julian Wheeler of NetApp as we look to answer the questions.

How much value did IT deliver to your organisation in the last year?

How much would you like it to next year?

And we wrap up with our CIO Forum on July 17th, where you can hear from some of the regions leading CIO’s as they share their challenges for delivering technology to empower their business.

If they sound your kind of thing then click here for more details.

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