We had a great day today in Waltham, well once we got past the tipped over sheetrock truck on 95/93 interchange. Sitting on 128 for an hour was not great.
Wed reviewed Microsofts' Office 365 and azure offerings and I can honestly say that they seem to have a good story on how to get your existing Microsoft infrastructure in the cloud. Exchange is an easy move to the MS cloud and in the next year you will get new features more quickly than the on-premise versions. Very cool.
Office 365 allows you to change your licensing model and have "viewers" have a less expensive option that can be accessed anywhere from "any" machine. "Any" is somewhat misleading since it does need to be a current browser and a standard OS with silverlight support, or at least it didn't work on my joli OS based web machine. Someone more savvy than me might be able to get it working, but after an hour the challenge stopped being fun.
Even SQL seems to have a good roadmap of getting to the cloud. I'm not really a SQL guy but it looked pretty cool from what I know.
And Windows Azure also seems pretty cool, though having to rebuild applications for the cloud means legacy applications will probably stay where they are and new ones will be built on Azure instead. I'd rather there was a "upgrade to cloud" button somewhere, but I'm sure some partner somewhere will come up with one someday.
All in all it was exactly what I expected, which is the problem. It's not really disruptive. If you read my post on google's cloud vision, it was a drastically new way of running IT. It gets rid of clients (essentially) and lets me get out of managing clients and servers and all the things that go with it, like antivirus, patching and even backups. It lets me stop running IT and starting moving the company forward instead.
The MS one is a much easier migration with much less risk. In fact if done correctly most users would never even know they are in the cloud. If your CEO comes to you and says "We need to go to the cloud" and you are thinking "Ugh, who did he go golfing with that put this in his head", the MS vision is perfect for you.
OK that's a bit harsh, there are a lot of reasons to avoid a big change on a largely unproven technology vision.
If you are trying to shake things up though that doesn't do it. Sure it helps shift infrastructure costs to a monthly subscription cost, which frankly is a numbers game, IMHO. It also gets you out of managing servers and patches for the applications you move to Azure or Office 365 (sharepoint, Lync, Exchange) and it gets you "somewhat forced" regular upgrades. You have the option to wait up to a full year before being forced to upgrade. It's not bad, in fact for some people it's a great fit. I just wonder if it is enough of a change....