SharePoint and the MS Cloud Strategy – Are you confused yet?

Joel Oleson November 8, 2010 0
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Ok.  I’ve been stewing a little, and part of that is just patience waiting for the full thing to come out from behind the curtain.  It’s tough to see it and know what the issues are going to be and trying to temper those that are seeing it as too much and others who are ignoring the wave that will knock them over. 

While I am definitely convinced that Companies can save a TON on moving their email infrastructure and even collaboration to the “Cloud.” I guess I’m over anxious and frustrated about more conversations that aren’t happening in the open.  I think we will be talking about these things more openly.  Microsoft has been putting a lot of muscle into selling “Cloud” and you’ll definitely hear lots about SharePoint.  The rubber is getting close to meeting the road or at least sharing the reality of the situation.  Is is all vapor or is there something to this cloud?

Cloud Power

While I’m actually a proponent of all of the service based solutions and software as a service that’s happening.  I’m seeing a ton of innovation on crowd sourcing, and great win examples of infrastructure based services such as Amazon EC2. has made everyone rethink the way they build software, and it’s awesome to see real consultants for services that are only available online, one of my concerns you’ll see more about below.  It’s interesting to see how the guys see SharePoint in the cloud as a threat. 


To keep my thoughts organized I’ll give you 5 things that are getting under my skin.

1. Cloud is used in contrast to On Premise, which is often sold as “Hey you can get rid of your IT staff” and reduce costs.  The reality I see is there is more than one migration going on.  The first migration was from traditional desktop apps with server components to web based apps server apps, and now we see much of those same apps moving to the cloud as software as a service SAAS based solutions.  What is not explained is how best to handle those supporting those applications that were on premise.  There should be another migration that we should be talking about.  That migration is not how do we get rid of the CIO.  The CIO and the CTO are NOT dead! In fact that entire organization is on a migration, I’m not referring to outsourcing.  The migration I see is forcing IT to learn the business, and forces the IT administrators and developers to line up with the lines of business, and core IT is building services or looking at cloud solutions.  Let’s start talking about this more.  I also see IT getting more broad normalizing applications into on premise services and allowing consultants to solve the hard challenges.

2. The term Cloud means too much to too many people.  There are a lot of moving parts here.  If you go to TechEd Microsoft’s premier conference you’ll hear cloud on virtualization & infrastructure topics, platforms and OS scenarios pointing to things like Azure, and application strategies for the business for Exchange, SharePoint, Identity, and looped around Office365 and now consumer services like Bing, Live, and Facebook or LiveID and strategies that go across including social scenarios and claims.

Microsoft’s Cloud Strategy = Microsoft’s Software + Services: “Microsoft’s strategy for the cloud spans our application, platform, and infrastructure businesses, both for consumer and enterprise”

There were some announcements at TechEd Europe that can’t be ignored around Hyper-V and Private Cloud.  There’s also a blog from the Hyper-V team that provides even more detail.

What Is a Private Cloud?

Private cloud is the implementation of cloud services on resources that are dedicated to your organization, whether they exist on-premises or off-premises. With a private cloud, you get many of the benefits of public cloud computing—including self-service, scalability, and elasticity—with the additional control and customization available from dedicated resources.

So this new terminology.  Does it mean something we use to call does Private cloud (Office 365) = BPOS D = dedicated hosting.  From what I can tell.  Yes.  It is Dedicated hosting on Steriods, and even partners that do hosting will begin using this terminology.  ISPs became ASPs became Hosters become Cloud providers?

What is Office 365

Brining together cloud version of trusted collaboration and communication plus latest version of desktop suite.

  • Office Pro Plus (Rich Client) Subscription based service and Office Web Apps (Lite web client)
  • Exchange Online
  • SharePoint Online
  • Lync Online


Here you get the cloud broken down into 3 big pieces.

1. Office 365 – the Office/SharePoint/Exchange/Lync 2010 wave of products plus subscription based services hosted by Microsoft

2. Windows Azure – the application and development based platform for building cloud based applications

3. Hyper-V Private Cloud – the Infrastructure based hosted services.


Not only can you expect to find SharePoint 2010 integrating with Azure, but the real crux of hybrid is many likely most enterprises will find that they can’t move everything to the cloud.  That’s right.  Don’t lay everyone off cause it’s all in the cloud.  Business integration is a HUGE component along with compliance and security considerations.  Once you start using the cloud if you like it you’re going to want to move it all.  Not so fast.  You will be very enticed by the 99.9% SLA that results in payback if they don’t meet it.

3. Azure and SharePoint Services: Is it ready?– Steve Fox a great SharePoint Developer Evangelist who comes to us from DPE has been hitting up various conferences around the world talking about Azure and SharePoint 2010.  First off the infrastructure isn’t ready today.  First, you can’t install SharePoint on Azure, so the infrastructure based services are not there.  I’m still waiting for people to be super inspired by Steve’s presentation and have some cloud apps that integrate that we can talk about.  I know Quest has a web client app that does reporting using Azure to deliver and update the app and it uses the SharePoint web services.  I know SharePoint Online wants to take this to the next level and work is being done here.  Many of us are waiting for the next rev of both SP2010 for BPOS (Office365) and Azure services that take a step toward infrastructure.  I do think Steve’s blog has the best grouping of examples of Silverlight and SharePoint 2010, as well as Windows Phone 7 examples with SharePoint 2010.  Digging in a little you’ll find there are some scenarios of cloud apps built using SharePoint integration with Big Maps, Access, Workflow, Azure, Excel, Power pivot, and other services. 

There’s more discussion on the launch around SharePoint not being cloud ready with an information week article on “Why SharePoint 2010 isn’t Cloud Ready”.  The emphasis in this article is on the launch of 2010 with BPOS, but even that I think still has more lacking.  Microsoft is putting more muscle here but ultimately needs to learn how to do sprint releases of code to the “cloud” services :)  The TechEd Europe announcement explained on Steve Fox’s blog goes along way to address concerns Office 365 at addressing most of the concerns brought up in the article.

Screenshot from the Office 365 admin screen shown at TechEd Europe:


4. Many will think, I will be able to move my critical apps into a cloud environment and relieve my staff – not so, the most critical apps will be unable to move with the current state of things.  Due to lack of business integration with your on premise needs and lack of maturity in Claims in the enterprise we are years from having both on premise identity needs and service based infrastructure that will support the business integration services.  Security and compliance aside, I think we’ll see mostly basic collaboration and portal needs being addressed with the bulk of business integration happening on premise in the cloud that the company itself will host.

We need to start talking about what is eligible to move, and whether it will increase complexity by creating a hybrid model.  Examples include moving email without SharePoint or moving some of the collab while keeping the BI portal, and so on.  The integration between content that’s on premise vs. in the cloud private or otherwise now brings into question scenarios such as where is search?  Am I doing federation?  How do I sync properties in my profiles or which is master.  What is the service app strategy?  Good questions.

5. I’m not excited about the message of “Cloud” is now being sold to consumers, people, the average Joe don’t need to know.  Have you seen the commercial about the soccer mom who saved some photos to the cloud?  I’m not excited about the average person needing to know that their app is a “cloud” app.  I really don’t see the value in school teacher needing to know that when they use Facebook, Bing, or Live services or whatever consumer services they use.  Microsoft did make a brilliant move to combine the efforts of what they’ve done with BPOS-D, BPOS-S (Business Productivity Online Services Dedicated and Standard/Shared) and desktop services you’d find in live, plus some new subscription based services including the traditional Office apps “in the cloud” with Office Web Apps.

Here’s the old way to look at Cloud.  It’s all getting rebranded as cloud…

In my attempts at putting together this rant/stream of conscious together my favorite resources were:

1. Steve Fox’s blog – SharePoint Director of Platforms

SharePoint 2010 & Windows Azure: How they Play Together? (His Deck from Teched US)

Great Office 365 screenshots and summary of Announcement around Infra Hyper-V Cloud Services

2. Microsoft’s Cloud Strategy –

3. Microsoft Software+Services – The Full Story

4. SharePoint Team Blog: What is Office 365 by Eric Swift on the announcement sign up for the beta at



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