Microsoft Unveils New Cloud Focus for SA

Microsoft has stepped up its new aggressive drive into the South African consumer and cloud space with the imminent local release in the next few months of two key products: its “Azure” cloud platform and its cloud subscription version of Office, Office 365 as well as with the recently released Windows Phone Mango platform.
That was the big news from the opening day of the software maker‘s Tech-Ed and Partner Summit 2011 in Durban, which has attracted more than 3 500 technology vendors, developers and executives from across Africa.
Microsoft‘s corporate vice-president Jason Zander said that Microsoft‘s cloud platform, Azure, is planned for release between March and May 2012. Office 365, which brings cloud productivity to businesses of all sizes, will be commercially available in the first half of 2012, with a trial towards the end of 2011.
“œMicrosoft has repeatedly made its commitment to the cloud very clear and has made repeated updates to its cloud offerings,“ said Zander. “œWe recently announced several new updates to the Windows Azure platform ““ which we see as the most comprehensive operating system for Platform-as-a-service ““ that will help customers create rich applications that enable new business scenarios in the cloud.“
Microsoft SA MD Mteto Nyati said the event would focus on the two broad trends that are shaping the industry and are shaping Microsoft‘s strategy: the cloud, both public and private cloud computing, as well as devices.
“œYou’re going to see a whole bunch of devices of different shapes, sizes, form factors, speeds, usage types. We need a world of devices, and they need to be smart. They need to create data, they need to connect to the cloud,“ said Nyati. Nyati also noted all the Apple products in the crowd – and welcomed the competition from the “iThings”.
“œThe cloud for us is the extension of rich experiences that once began on the desktop or on the server, and it’s making them richer and more interesting to users and more compelling every single day.“
Microsoft has high hopes for Office 365, which it says will bring cloud productivity to businesses of all sizes, particularly smaller businesses without an IT department. The service will be hosted from the Microsoft datacentres in Europe, leveraging the economies of scale present in these large datacentres. Office 365 will have a lot of advantages for small businesses through better license management and cloud based distribution.
“œOffice 365 is the best of everything we know about productivity, all in a single cloud service,“ said Zander. “œThe power of cloud solutions allows companies to rent computing power, rather than acquire it outright. Microsoft Office 365 is software-as-a-service, a form of cloud computing where business services are presented to the end user in a subscription model.“ Customers and partners can visit to pre-register for the trial.