It's an archipelago of clouds. The Cloud OS Network, launched Thursday by Microsoft, is the name for a global consortium of more than two dozen Microsoft-validated cloud service providers that use its cloud platform.
The company's platform includes Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and Windows Azure, and the consortium is intended to provide consistency across centers. Providers include Capgemini, Capita IT Services, CSC, Dimension Data, Fujitsu Ltd., Lenovo, Outsourcery, SingTel, Sogeti, Tieto, T-Systems, Doruknet and Workmann. Together, they represent over 425 data centers with more than 2.5 million servers in over 90 markets.
Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft corporate vice president of Cloud and Enterprise Marketing, said in a statement that the network will help customers "create data centers without boundaries for apps, data and device management." Numoto added that this offers a "greater diversity of solutions, more flexibility and lower operations costs."
'Prevents Vendor Lock-In'
In its announcement Microsoft added that this multiplicity of cloud providers "prevents vendor lock-in." Ironically, the company has been accused countless times of locking customers into its proprietary solutions, so apparently this is part of the new Microsoft vision.
There are also a variety of potential advantages of this network for providers. The network members can offer value-added services, such as for hybrid solutions. Other advantages include regional or governmental differences that a regional provider might be better equipped to handle, such as geographical restrictions for certain kinds of data, as well as more effective marketing to potential local customers.
Microsoft gave the example of network partner Outsourcery in the United Kingdom, which is in the midst of an initiative to provide cloud services for businesses of all sizes in that region, as well as services for the U.K. governmental agencies. Similarly, TeleComputing in Norway and Sweden is migrating its large VMware environment to Hyper-V with Microsoft's assistance.
Sending Data to the U.S.
This new consortium gives Microsoft another leg up in the escalating competition with cloud platform providers, including Google, Amazon, IBM, Dropbox, Box and Salesforce, among many others. Almost daily, one or another of these providers is announcing expansions and features. A global network of major providers all running the same software, all validated by Microsoft, certainly raises the bar.
Michael Facemire, an analyst with industry research firm Forrester, pointed out that "a lot of folks don't want to send their data to America" these days, given the widely publicized snooping by the National Security Agency and the fact that U.S. corporations are frequent targets of hackers.
He also noted that "it's always better to have data closer to where you want it delivered." The most extreme example of that, Facemire said, is probably the fact that brokerages are charged higher fees the closer they are physically to the New York Stock Exchange, because they may be able to squeeze out another fraction of a microsecond advantage in trading times.
Posted: 2014-01-05 @ 1:36pm PT
I love DropBox and have used it for years both personally and in a business environment. The biggest challenge that they face is they provide a service that is easily replicated by any number of companies, including powerful ones like Google, Amazon and Microsoft. The services are a dime a dozen right now and they way I see it, there are two things that can set a company apart: 1) tight integration with multiple platforms and 2) lots of storage space. Dropbox is doing a great job on the integration front. It couldn’t be much easier to use, whether on a Mac, PC, or cellphone. But right now, they are getting pressure on the storage space issue. I keep getting emails that Norton wants to give me 50GB and Google wants to give me 100 MB. So right now I am making the switch to a product by Barracuda called Copy. They start you out with 20GB of space (more than I have on DropBox after years) and with referrals of 5GB a pop it can go quickly from there. Check it out at https://copy.com?r=BlX7tm.