Microsoft has released its server roadmap and all paths lead to the cloud. It appears that although the company will continue to sell on-premise products, it really wants customers to move to cloud-based products.

Lots to Do, Short Time to Do It

Microsoft has kind of, sort of disclosed its roadmap for the next two years in various recent announcements, leaks and hallway conversations. There is lots of activity occurring in Seattle, but it appears centered around a few main themes. The software giant is on a mission to cloud-enable all of its server products. Apparently, even when customers just install a plain old Windows server, the guys in marketing have found a way to make it cloud centric as well. No longer will Microsoft have on-premise servers; they will now have “private cloud” solutions and all it took was a search and replace in Microsoft Word.

If you insist on resisting Microsoft's cloud charms, be prepared to experience some delays in getting new features. According to Microsoft representatives, new features will be released to the cloud-based versions of its products first and then ported down to mere mortals who have not ascended to the cloud.

Microsoft’s Next Steps

The next version of Windows Server will have some big changes. Company executives have indicated the server has over 300 new features,  including many from Azure, such as multi-tenancy. A developer preview of the product was released earlier this year and the final version is expected before the third quarter of 2012.

SQL Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-based relational database, is another product undergoing significant changes. The company is updating the software around every four to six month with fixes and enhancements. Microsoft is currently concentrating on hybrid cloud use cases which are becoming increasingly common as organizations become more comfortable with the cloud and embrace more sophisticated configurations.T he last release of SQL Azure was in the second quarter of this year, so we should be seeing a fresh update soon. Perhaps it will include the long awaited cloud-based reporting services.

Microsoft is also moving to a semi-annual release cycle for Dynamics CRM. Customers will be likely be pleased to get fresh features faster than every three years, which is the current time frame for updates. The next version of the online version of the product will include more social networking features, disaster recovery, federated identity and enhanced privacy measures.

Microsoft seems more hesitant as of late about discussing its product plans. We have no details on the direction of many products like Commerce Server or BizTalk. It isn’t even clear if these products will continue to exist.

What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s cloud centric roadmap? Is this its path to revenue and growth? Let us know your thoughts.