Microsoft ran a one day event in Kuala Lumpur on 21st of August using the theme “one day reimagined”. New Chief Marketing and Operations Officer for Microsoft Malaysia Rukmani Subramanian took time out to chat with DSA and explained just how Microsoft is helping people use IT to reimagine work and leisure time.
It was not so long ago that Microsoft was the new kid on the block and a major disruptive influence on the IT scene. In the early days Microsoft was all about taking on the older established players. Today Microsoft IS one of the old established playes and there are many disruptive influencers out there looking to displace them in one way or another.
For a while it looked from the outside that Microsoft had really lost its way in the cloud and mobile data enabled world. The danger of losing relevance in a vastly changing market was real. However in the last 9 months DSA has seen a massive reinvention of how Microsoft is repositioning itself. One Day Reimagined was staged for Microsoft Malaysia to demonstrate that change.
Whilst “one day reimagined” demonstrated real life situations that show how corporations can reimagine their own IT. Even more important from DSA’s perspective is that this event was about showing how Microsoft is starting to reimagine itself.
Rukmani explained that Microsoft’s goal is to provide people with a constant and fluid user experience. For Microsoft it is no longer about the product, its about the user lifestyle and adapting technology to facilitate that lifestyle.
Rakmani likes to use real world examples. “Imagine moving conversations on Skype seamlessly across devices as you move from home to car to office. I do that that most mornings” She went on to explain that “Until now - Location, Time and Device were the limitations that dictated our IT base activity, but users no longer accept these limitations” and according to Rukmani neither does Microsoft.
Microsoft wants to remove the limitations imposed by Location, Time and Device and as a result is doing things differently. Rukmani points out “Did you ever imagine we would make windows available at no charge? In addition we are helping many companies make their first substantive move to cloud with ever increasing Office 365 adoption.”
It does look like Microsoft is becoming Savvy to a changing marketplace where the lines between consumer and corporate users are more blurred than they have ever been before.
When we really boiled down what Rukmani had to say we saw two fundamental areas where Microsoft is reimagining and is disrupting.
The first is the Surface Pro Device. Surface Pro 3 is about to launch in Malaysia at the end of August. Microsoft’s stated aim with this is to cross the gap between Laptop and Tablet. Rukmani explained “One device that replaces the need to own two. “
The other is the Azure public cloud platform. It is clear that public cloud is going to be dominated by a few players like AWS, Softlayer and Azure, and we see the days of people running “compute in the cloud” coming very fast.
This is real disruption by Microsoft who are finally coming head to head with the hardware vendors. The Surface Pro aims to be the single corporate device meeting the needs of consumer style tablet use and corporate heavier duty laptop use. With Surface Pro 3 Microsoft will go head to head with many of its OEM hardware partners.
With Azure the battle with its traditional partners will be even more interesting. Microsoft will no doubt be encouraging customers to upgrade to new server OS’s and at the same time move their compute capability onto Azure rather than invest in new on premise hardware. This will put Microsoft head to head with the OEM server partners.
However there is an inevitability about the march of cloud computing with compute and data moving around and not tied to any particular hardware platform.
There are a myriad of technologies that sit in between Azure and the Microsoft Surface Pro, but the vision Rukmani paints is interesting. “One device for all your needs connected to a cloud that follows you everywhere.”
One of the keys to whether Rukmani is right will be if she is correct in her assertion that the Surface Pro is a creation device whereas all other tablets are really consumption devices. If the Surface Pro truly does bridge the gap between laptop and tablet than Microsoft really will have cracked what the majority of corporate users want and need in an endpoint device.
Azure is going to become a critical part of Microsoft’s future. It was clear from Rukmani’s pitch that she understands the importance of her cloud business, but perhaps does not understand just how strong some of her competitors are. When we looked deeper into some of the claims about how unique Azure is in terms of functionality and security it is clear that other cloud providers have comparable and sometimes favorable offerings. That said there can be no doubt Azure will be a huge force in public cloud adoption.
As companies reimagine their IT, No doubt Microsoft will be able to offer a one stop shop from end point device to public cloud infrastructure. With serious applications such as big data frameworks, massive scale databases, and email infrastructure sitting in between the two. However we can’t help but feel that Microsoft must remain open to collaboration even with competitors if they are to truly reimagine the IT landscape. Part of providing a fluid and constant experience to users is to understand that computing today is about flexibility and choice, moving data and compute between different platforms and providers. Not everyone will want a Surface Pro, but many people may want to have the same fluid experience in the cloud using iOS or Android devices and Microsoft will need to embrace the fact that many devices need to access their cloud and that their devices will need to connect to other public clouds.
Rukmani certainly seems to understand this and that may well be an indication that Microsoft on a larger scale understands this too.