Jean-Philippe Courtois, President Microsoft International

As we begin a new calendar year, we’ve been excited to read analysts’ predictions that 2012 will be the year that many companies truly embrace cloud computing. Today, Microsoft is the only cloud provider which offers the full spectrum of cloud services spanning public, hybrid and private clouds. This choice of models enables you to build and consume cloud services from your datacenter, our datacenter and/or a partner’s datacenter. We expect that most organizations will choose some mix of all three models and that those preferences will evolve along with business needs. At Microsoft, we’d like partner with you along each step of your journey to the cloud.

For many of you, the first step will be into the private cloud. It’s here that you can begin to appreciate the advantage of cloud, reap its benefits, and increase your understanding of and comfort levels with cloud technologies. With that experience under your belt, you may feel more comfortable moving certain workloads to the public cloud, where your advantages only increase. But for this post, I will focus my comments on the private cloud. As I meet with customers around the world, there are four things about the Microsoft private cloud that I advise them to think about as they plan their own implementations.

First it’s all about the application. Microsoft is way ahead of VMware in understanding and managing your applications and services. Core business value lies in your applications, and we provide you deep application insight. We don’t stop at just managing infrastructure or virtual machines. Through System Center, we’re bringing our learning from building and operating public cloud services to your private cloud.

Secondly, the Microsoft platform is open and provides you choice. In the past we have supported multiple hyper-visors (e.g. ESX), and with System Center 2012 we are adding Citrix and supporting all of the big three. This means you can build a private cloud across anyone of these hyper-visors, picking the best one for your workload and run it in a Microsoft environment. The benefits of this cross platform approach is that you can use what you have.

Third is best-in-class performance. The simple fact is that the workloads that matter most run best on Hyper-V. Microsoft was included in the leader quadrant of Gartner’s 2011 Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure, in recognition of our vision and execution in this space.  

Fourth and perhaps most importantly, Microsoft is committed to providing cloud on your terms – understanding that you will likely want to invest in physical, virtual, private and public cloud computing models. 

We often hear from our customers that they worry about security and compliance, and these are valid concerns especially as we think about the consumerization of IT. The IT systems you manage are increasingly complex, so the demands being placed on you to understand and support the full IT landscape are expansive. Microsoft can provide you with both the peace of mind and the technology solutions to help. 

All around the world today, we’re seeing public and private sector alike embrace the private cloud, and I’d like to tell you about one of these customers today.

The National Bank of Kuwait, in an effort to upgrade a legacy mainframe-based system, recently virtualized 75 percent of its servers for an astonishing 40% savings! The Bank is also benefitting greatly from the scale provided by the cloud. The holy month of Ramadan is its busiest period of the year, with many more customers visiting the bank in that month versus the average, making cash withdrawals in preparation for the celebrations at the end of the month, which include giving children gifts. This increases the demands on its banking applications, and the day after observances end, Internet and telephone banking spike as much as 300%! Virtualization and the private cloud are helping the Bank to easily scale up with demand in this peak period.

While previously the Bank’s IT department focused its efforts on provisioning servers, the private cloud infrastructure has freed up the department’s time to focus on delivering new services, such as mobile banking, that not only support the business but help move it forward.

It’s been fantastic to see momentum with customers like this one building around the private cloud. One development that we believe will help accelerate that adoption even more is a new partnership we announced in early December with HP. Our two companies have joined forces on a global, four-year initiative to jointly deliver Microsoft’s communications and collaboration solutions to large corporations and governments via the cloud. There were public, private and hybrid cloud components to the announcement, which you can read about here. Initially available in Australia, Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., we expect to expand the offering broadly to countries across Latin America, Europe and Asia. This partnership dramatically increases our global coverage for private cloud, helping our joint customers worldwide, particularly in regulated industries like financial services and public sector, to be able to meet demanding requirements for functionality and service levels.

We’re also proud to be working with service providers around the world which offer infrastructure as a finished, fully hosted service built on Microsoft technology. This option delivers a fast, cost-effective implementation for cloud services, both private and public. Service providers include Korean Internet Data Center; Fasthosts (U.K., U.S.); Agarik (France); and Hostway Corp. (U.S., U.K., Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Romania), amongst others.

We are hearing from you that in these times of economic uncertainty, investing in technology to help you do more with less has never been more critical. We believe that cloud technologies can offer tremendous advantages, and we want to help you reap the benefits of the economics of private cloud. So I’ll leave you with this good news: as you get more efficient and increase your VM density, the cost per VM goes down, as our licensing options allow for unlimited virtualized instances and we don’t charge per-VM. There’s simply never been a better time to look at the private or hybrid cloud models, no matter where in the world you are. We look forward to the opportunity to help you realize your full potential in the cloud.