Friday, May 9, 2008

Down To Business: As IBM Reaches For Cloud, Where Next Microsoft? - InformationWeek

It's a spot phantasmagoric to watch ibm come up off as the plucky, self-deprecating maverick. That was the ghost May 1 as head executive officer Surface-To-Air Missile Palmisano took the phase in Los Angeles with Google chief Eric Schmidt, both their caputs squarely in the cloud.

They were there to speak up , reminding the audience of a to assist universities advance large-scale, highly parallel computer science patterns among the adjacent coevals of computer programmers and system architects. Apparently, the IBM-Google confederation is moving beyond academia, as the two heads spoke in general footing about their program to construct a planetary web of waiters from which consumers and concerns will access everything from the most basic e-mail and word processing services to enterprise-class processing capacity and direction tools.

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Google, with its Google Apps and fundamental storage services, now plays mostly in the consumer market, but anticipate it to travel aggressively into the enterprise, overlapping with IBM on some application and substructure services but ceding management, security, and other support services to its leathery partner. "The cloud have higher value in business," Helmut Schmidt said. "That's the secret to our collaboration."

As my co-worker (see story,""), Palmisano was eager to admit Google's momentum. "We're boring, they're exciting. We're slow, they're fast. We're fat, they're skinny," Palmisano joked, before emphasizing that both companies share "a common technical alignment." It's that alignment, around Linux and Internet standards, that should have got longtime challenger Microsoft sweating. A hebdomad after its $40 billion command to take over Web giant Yokel unraveled, Microsoft still depends on its Windows, Office, Exchange, and other mostly client-server franchises for the majority of its profits.

Microsoft's jewel, of course, is Windows, and View have exposed a blazing flaw. As software system acquires more than than than than distended (Vista incorporates more than 50 million lines of code), it goes more hard to deploy, scale, and manage, and it goes more prostrate to breakage other applications. Some clients are looking for alternatives.

While chief executive officer Steve Ballmer insisted last hebdomad that Microsoft is moving well beyond its client-server roots--that it can --one perceiver offered a prediction: pain. "Without a speedy fix, Ballmer now have to truly take the company through a painful and arduous time period of reform--he can't just compose a bank check and acquire the company back in the game," Forrester chief executive officer Saint George Colony wrote in a blog post.

That was the place IBM was in 15 old age ago, when Lou Gerstner took over a proud company still too dependent on the mainframe computer and other bypast computer science platforms. Gerstner fixated IBM on services and software, but one or two acquisitions didn't refashion Big Blue. It was a wholesale cultural displacement that included tons of acquisitions (as well as divestitures), a committedness to Linux and the Internet, and a scheme acknowledging that clients no longer accept single-vendor lock-in.

Don't shout for Microsoft just yet; its nett income rose 12% last twelvemonth to $14.1 billion, on 15% higher gross of $51.1 billion. And although its "software plus services" scheme thwacks of incrementalism, Microsoft is hipper to the cloud than people realize. It's "investing massively" in four new information centers, states senior VP Chris Capossela, and have begun offering "single tenant" hosted services to a smattering of large customers. Coca-Cola Enterprises have signed for 70,000 cloud-delivered seating of Exchange and SharePoint. For little and midsize businesses, Microsoft bes after to offer multitenant versions of CRM, Exchange, Office Communications Server, and SharePoint by year's end. Capossela foretells that one-half of Exchange users will acquire their e-mail from the cloud within five years.

So while comparing Microsoft favorably to IBM may look unnatural, Microsoft is starting to acquire on with the sort of transmutation IBM embarked on 15 old age ago.

Rob Preston,
VP and Editor in Chief

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