Microsoft Who? Top 4 Highlights of Microsoft Management Summit 2013

Microsoft needs to crank up the volume for the world to hear.

It's challenging to absorb everything Microsoft at the cadence they would like IT pros to keep pace with, but here are four areas to pay close attention to:

The Microsoft Cloud OS strategy is a triangulation of on-premise private cloud, services from Azure and hosting providers centered on Windows Server 2012 and wrapped with System Center 2012. The triangulation, consistency of experience and services across each of the consumption models is an important detail to consider. Comparably, VMware has a two-point strategy that is narrowed in on hosting VMs on-premise and off-premise, while Amazon is an all-in single-platform commitment. Each approach may have a fit, but it's important to understand and plan for the different approaches.

Most know Microsoft Azure as a cloud development platform hosted by Microsoft (PaaS). Some may understand the ability to host VMs (IaaS). Both are correct, but this just cracks the surface. Azure is designed to deliver a broad range of IT services, including an ecosystem of partners that snap into the Azure framework, web server services and a list of other candidates that Microsoft will continue to light up. I heard a great example of a customer's ability to run a managed (by a third party) SQL instance on Azure since they didn't have any in-house SQL admin skills and as a result focus its efforts on the application they deployed.

Microsoft has some extremely interesting and potentially game-changing approaches to storage. The first one stems from its acquisition of StorSimple. The use case is simple. Take cold files that are consuming capacity and not accessed frequently and relocate them to a more favorable economic cloud-based platform. Customers quickly get the concept, can calculate the value on the back of a napkin and are embracing the solution. Next up on the conveyor belt is storage spaces, which enables IT pros to create a virtual volume that spans across a deep and wide collection of disks. Storage spaces will change the way infrastructure for server virtualization is consumed and in some cases eliminate the need for a SAN. This requires the traditional storage vendors like EMC, NetApp, Hitachi and others to determine how to coexist and storage spaces opens the door for some deep JBOD designs from HP, Dell and, perhaps most interesting, Cisco.

System Center still is a bit overwhelming to grasp from top to bottom, but Configuration Manager with the likes of Intune is fascinating. IT pros need to get busy designing and managing policies for access across devices, apps and data. This is NOT a trivial task. IT can't say no to BYOD and has to discover ways to embrace endpoints, improve the end user's experience and do it in a secure manner.

Now Microsoft needs to crank up the volume for the world to hear. Too many IT pros keep saying "I didn't know Microsoft did that!?!?!"

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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