Ballmer's (and Microsoft's) Heady View of the Cloud

In his keynote speech at Microsoft's recently concluded Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, waxed eloquent about cloud computing.

Here are some of Ballmer's, and, of course, Microsoft's ideas and observations about the cloud. Given that the software giant years ago nearly slept through the dawning of the Internet age, it seems intent on not letting the cloud float by unnoticed.

"There's no question that the path is clear and inevitable. The cloud really does give a new set of facilities--marketplace services, distribution services, customization services--that will open up for all of us in this room a set of new markets and a set of new customers."

"The cloud enables us, all of us, to help our customers streamline their operations and improve their agility. We all know for our customer their mission #1 is to take cost out of the ongoing operations and maintenance of IT so they can invest more in new scenarios and new applications."

"Because of what cloud technologies like Azure as well as the Microsoft online services mean for the customer, we can remove many of those costs and much of that complexity and enable more of the value add that all of you bring to our customers to focus in on the new applications and new scenarios our customers want to embrace--that business value that all IT directors and managers talk about."

Ballmer pointed to the growth of the vendor's Azure cloud platform as a case in point.

"A year ago we had nobody, zero people, using Windows Azure. Today, there's over 10,000 paying customers--partners and end customers who are building applications and moving forward with Azure."

The bottom line, as it stands right now?

"When customers entrust more and more of their data and operations to all of us we need to do a better and better job on reliability, security and privacy."

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