Why cloud decisions require service management options

Microsoft puts the management cart before the cloud horse, and it's a good thing, industry watchers say.

Attendees at Microsoft Management Summit 2010 heard the mantra "Manage the Future: Desktop to Cloud" from Bob Muglia, president of the server and tools business at Microsoft, and witnessed the software giant's dedication to managing services from development to operations in myriad product demonstrations. But with cloud computing reaching fever pitch in terms of hype, actual adoption numbers are estimated much lower. This fact makes one wonder about the demand for management of a technology that hasn't yet seen widespread adoption.

Enterprise cloud put to the test

"This was really a coming out party for Microsoft's new face with management and it represents a big shift forward in what the company represents in this market," says Glenn O'Donnell, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. While today's discussion around managing cloud is just that -- mostly talk, IT customers will want to see a management framework to support their on-premise or hosted adoption of cloud services before they commit fully to the technology. "When you talk about deploying a cloud, you have to have the management and automation technology under the covers to make it all work. Without these technologies, it won't happen, end of story," O'Donnell says.Microsoft is touting "routes to cloud" for customers who may choose an on-premise model, a hosted model or even a hybrid of the two, and in any case, being able to monitor applications and services residing on customer-owned or service provider hosted virtual or physical servers will appeal to many IT decision makers, according to Mark Bowker, a senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. He says Microsoft's news around updating products such as System Center to integrate with and monitor applications in Windows Azure will help IT operations bridge the gap between what application developers want and what IT managers can deliver."Customers won't make that leap to cloud services without help from their vendors, and it is good that Microsoft is ahead of the customer adoption curve of cloud," Bowker says. "Microsoft has the opportunity to turn a lot of good administrators into great managers. There are a lot of good administrators but they are not always good managers when they cross platforms, operating systems or applications. Microsoft needs to provide the tools to turn those admins into managers."  

With all this hype around cloud, Microsoft could also misstep, experts say. For one, the company could focus too much on Microsoft-only applications, potentially alienating a segment of the market.

"Adoption of Microsoft management tools is greater than we have seen in years," Bowker continues. "But Microsoft's strength is in the Microsoft environment, top to bottom, which is a pretty big market, but if the company really wants to win the hearts and minds of developers and operators, it will continue to integrate or develop plug ins to work more closely with partners."Posted by Denise Dubie.Do you Tweet? Follow Denise Dubie on Twitter here.

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