Microsoft: Private cloud still has a place in enterprise IT

The road to the cloud

Microsoft has reinforced its commitment to helping users make the most of their private cloud investments, despite repeatedly banging the drum for hybrid deployments in recent days.

The software giant has spent much of its TechEd conference in Houston, Texas, emphasising the business benefits of taking a hybrid approach to cloud deployments.

In Microsoft's case, this means allowing end users to expand their on-premise capabilities by drawing on the IT capacity of its public cloud service Azure.

Speaking to IT Pro, Mike Schutz, general manager for product management within Microsoft's server and cloud division, said this strategy seems to be appreciated by customers who have invested vast sums of money in on-premise technologies.

"Public cloud is a hot topic for a number of years now, and what we find is that for customers because of their investments in their existing on-premises infrastructure and their desire to use the public cloud hybrid cloud ends up being the perfect choice for them," he explained.

"Because of flexibility, they can choose what workloads they choose to put in the public cloud and which ones to put on premises."

However, while talk about hybrid and public clouds being the future of enterprise IT have dominated discussions at the event, this doesn't mean the private cloud doesn't have a role to play.

Particularly, Schutz claims, because many users have gone down the virtualisation route, but are yet to fully realise the benefits of private cloud.

"Most customers have virtualised their servers, and have virtual machines, but they still don't operate those like a cloud. They're still siloed, they haven't built a shared infrastructure that incorporates software-defined networking [or] storage ... and that's what we're really working with customers on," he said.

"We're really working a lot to build out a cloud in their own environment and many of them are on their journey to do that. But, at the same time, they're very interested in using the public cloud."

This was a view backed by Corey Sanders, group manager for Microsoft Azure and the firm's IaaS activities, during a separate briefing with IT Pro at the event.

He said end users want to keep using their on-premise assets while taking advantage of the business agility benefits offered by the public cloud, which is why the hybrid model appeals.

However, that doesn't mean the use of private cloud as an IT delivery model is set to decline.

"We find the energy around that hybrid connection growing," he said.

"So I can't speak to a decline for the private cloud, but I can definitely speak to an increase in hybrid usage between private, public and hosted clouds and the expectations of managing and connecting in [similar] ways."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.