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Jul 12 2010   2:39PM GMT

Microsoft positions Azure as the cloud for all

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

A couple of positioning statements from Monday’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference keynotes.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was careful to claim that virtualization does NOT equal cloud computing. That’s what I would say too if I were trying to displace the VMware juggernaut. 

Ballmer also pointedly noted the need for smartphones that work well with existing IT infrastructure. As if IT has not scrambled to embrace the Apple iPhone and will not do the same for Android. No mention was made of the recently axed Microsoft Kin phone but Ballmer said the company will get the Windows phone right. Someday.

Also a few discrete jabs at other competitors…Ballmer said that no other company, “not Cisco, not IBM, blah blah blah”  offers the ability to boost productivity the way Microsoft does. He carefully did not include Hewlett-Packard and other  Microsoft allies there, but it’s not hard to see these two long-time partners coming to loggerheads more and more. This despite today’s news that HP, along with Dell and Fujitsu, will deliver Microsoft Azure appliances that will run in service providers’ data centers or at customer sites.

The Azure appliance–details of which were nebulous other than it will be out later this year–is one way  customers can run Azure in their own data centers and thus addresses one major complaint about Azure. Partners can support those customers or even run the services for the customer which is, indeed, a big deal. Amazon Web Services only run inside Amazon data centers. However they also are rationally priced (and cheaper than Azure) and let customers run on non-Windows infrastructure.

Looks like the converged data center has taken on a whole new front.

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