Viewpoints

A conversation with IT leaders

Customer conversations: The Cloud

Customer conversations: The Cloud

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 Written by Susan Hauser, Microsoft Corporate Vice President

One of the most rewarding parts of my role is getting time to spend with the field and engaging with customers.   I come away energized and with deep insights from every meeting.  Every customer engagement represents an opportunity for me to learn, hear new perspectives and offer insight while building and fostering relationships.  I have been at Microsoft for 23 years and have relationships with customers that have spanned the entire length of my tenure at Microsoft.  FY13 is one of the most exciting and important years for us to engage with our customers and position Microsoft as a strategic partner to transition to the Cloud with innovation and cost efficiency. We have more products releasing and more innovation than any other company in the industry.  I intend to use this blog to detail what I’m hearing from our customers, partners, and field and also share my perspective on how collectively we can respond to changes in technology and evolving business requirements.

There are multiple blogs out there talking about how to make the move to the Cloud and how Microsoft has made the move (for example, Tony Scott’s video blog) but I want to take you into the conversations I’m having with our customers who are already “in” the Cloud.   In recent months, I have witnessed a change in the way customers are speaking about adopting the Cloud.  The conversations about the Cloud have changed from “if” a customer is going to embrace the Cloud to “when” and “how” they are going to make the Cloud work for them.

We have customers from around the world in industries ranging from education, retail, manufacturing, and entertainment to financial institutions and governments who are creating new business value and/or reimagining existing business value. We have traditional businesses moving to the Cloud and businesses being born in the Cloud that need to scale.

One of the things that makes Microsoft unique is that we make the Cloud work for your business with enterprise Cloud offerings that span on-premises and online. You choose what to deploy into the Cloud and we work with you to strike the right balance for your business with private, public, and traditional infrastructure environments that all work together.

In our discussions, customers share that the enterprise class customer relationships we provide are a key differentiator in doing business with us versus our competitors. They appreciate knowing they have an account team available at the ready. They also like the flexibility, the ability to choose private, public, or hybrid and of course, they like the cost savings.   I’d like to share two examples with you to demonstrate the benefits our customers are experiencing when they move to the Cloud. I also encourage you to think about your business needs and how together, we can drive benefits for your organizations.

A government agency moved to the Cloud with us this past year and in talking with the CIO, he told me one of the key drivers was the speed at which they were able to get there and the flexibility of the solution.  He shared he had considered different traditional hosters, but the time, flexibility, and cost didn’t meet expectations as they all were reliant on data centers.   When the CIO explained his business problem to our Microsoft account team, we provided a Cloud solution that reduced time to market, didn’t require deployment of infrastructure, lowered costs (saving millions of dollars with lower operation and maintenance costs), and provided flexibility and scalability on demand along with a dedicated Microsoft team for support. They trusted us for their mission critical applications and the Cloud-solution we created and they are extremely happy with the results.

Partners play an important role as well in helping our customers achieve the benefits of going to the Cloud. I was just speaking with a partner last month who shared a story about helping a customer store data locally while performing the processing in Azure. The hybrid solution satisfied the customer’s regulatory compliance and data sensitivity concerns and the processing went into Windows Azure. Together, Microsoft and the partner developed a hybrid Cloud service offering that provided the retail customer with complete flexibility for the location of their data and applications. The result, a cost effective solution that supports the retailers desire for a fully managed service while providing immediate access and ownership of their data.

These are just a few examples of customer success stories. I’d like to hear from you about your experiences moving to the Cloud and the benefits you and your company are achieving. If you are still contemplating your move, I’d like to learn more about your business challenges and how we can help you.

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