The day Satya Nadella took over as Microsoft CEO, he fired off an email to employees that read, “Our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world.” Since then, “mobile first, cloud first” has become Microsoft’s mantra and the theme for its strategy in an age of “ubiquitous computing” — another term coined by Nadella, referring to a heavily-digitized future.
If computers are everywhere, Nadella reasons, then Windows (and businesses) also need to be everywhere. To that end, Microsoft took the first step by eliminating Windows license fees for smartphones and devices under 9 inches, and gave its Office 365 subscribers full Office capabilities for the iPad. It’s also enabled IT professionals to bring together data protection, identity, access and device management into one suite and enterprise architecture that works across all devices — Android, iOS, Windows.
But what does this dual focus on mobile and cloud mean? Jan Dawson, a tech researcher writing for Techpinions, explains that consumers want two things: content and communications, which require endpoints connected to the cloud.
“To be cloud-first is to design new products and services with cloud back-ends in mind, and to be mobile-first is to design them with mobile front-ends in mind. Those two complement each other,” Dawson explains. “One refers to architectural decisions and the other to endpoints and user interfaces,” he adds. “Organizations care deeply about the former, while end users care deeply about the latter.”
“Being cloud-first,” he continues, “means designing new products and services to be delivered from a cloud infrastructure rather than sitting on a server in a company office… That has significant implications for how services are designed and delivered, as any enterprise looking to migrate legacy systems from on-premise to cloud environments has discovered. Systems designed for on-premise models don’t take into account the latency introduced when servers and endpoints are separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles, and tend to break down pretty quickly when they’re moved to cloud environments. But systems designed with cloud environments in mind can easily be deployed in an on-premise fashion.”
Sounds good, but how’s that working out in the real world?
We’ve asked customers to share their experience adopting a cloud-first policy. Jeff Ton, CIO for Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana, responded with the following:
“It enables the IT team to react much more quickly to changing business needs… The provisioning of resources is a breeze. You can take advantage of newer ideas and technology faster because you don’t have huge investments in infrastructure and applications you are waiting on the depreciation to run out.”
“You pay for what you consume. You can scale up almost infinitely and ramp down fairly easily as well. As you do this, the [scalability] is done smoothly rather than traditional methods of stair-stepping capacity.”
Bottom line, Ton says, “it frees up internal teams from having to focus on non-value-add activities like patches, hardware upgrades, storage expansion and so on, and allows them to focus on activities that directly impact our business and mission.”
What’s your take? Wondering what the right mix of cloud and equipment would best suit your organization?