Microsoft has upped the stakes again in the battle for cloud platform supremacy with the launch of Cloud OS Network. It brings 25 top cloud service providers under the same banner to deliver hosted services on the Microsoft Cloud Platform.

Microsoft Cloud OS Network

The Microsoft cloud platform includes Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack, which, with the added muscle of this new network, aims to completely corner the cloud market, or at least take a large chunk of Google, or Amazon’s business.

More importantly, as Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft vice president for cloud and enterprise marketing at Microsoft, points out in a blog post, the creation of the network enables the company to do hybrid cloud computing in an entirely new way.

Hybrid cloud computing offers enterprises the choice of where they want to keep their mission-critical data or applications, on-premises or in the cloud. The typical scenario for security sensitive industries is to keep them on-premises, and use the  computing and storage power of the cloud to create business value from the data in the on-premises applications.

In fact, only yesterday, Gartner pointed out that between now and 2017, data-as-a-service, where enterprises add vast stores of cloud data to critical data already stored on-premises for business value, will be one of the main enterprise software drivers along with mobile and social business computing.

The creation of the new network, Numoto wrote, facilitates this kind of computing:

It’s no secret that cloud computing is a revolution in the world of IT. Companies everywhere, of every size, are looking to capitalize on the cloud, in order to harness big data, manage BYOD and deliver powerful apps to a wide range of devices. Ultimately, it’s all about key business drivers like creating new opportunities more quickly, improving employee productivity and lowering costs."

Partners in the Cloud OS Network include, among others, Aruba Capgemini, Capita IT, Fujitsu Finland Oy., Fujitsu Ltd., Lenovo, NTTX and Outsourcy.

Microsoft Hybrid Cloud Computing

According to Microsoft, enterprises will be given more choice about both deploying hybrid solutions, and, should they decide to go the hybrid route, have a wider choice of solutions from Windows Azure or the network of service providers.

Over the past two years, many enterprises have opted for hybrid solutions. They seem more comfortable going in this direction rather than moving everything to the cloud, at least in the medium term.

Earlier this year, Alfresco’s Director of Cloud Services David Gildeh said Alfresco would pursue a similar strategy. He expects hybrid computing to remain in vogue for at least another 10 years or until the time C-Suite managers feel secure about putting everything in the cloud.

In the meantime, enterprises are looking for the best way to develop hybrid environments within the context of their own business. Microsoft claims the new network offers the widest range of possibilities on the market at the moment.

More to the point, because the service providers are located all over the world, it will also give enterprises a choice of where their services are geographically located, a major consideration for those that need to ensure data never leaves the jurisdiction of a given country.

Ultimately, this provides enterprises with a wider choice in customization, data sovereignty, security, privacy and service levels than they have had to date with Microsoft.

According to Microsoft, the Cloud OS Network partners operate in more than 90 countries, covering 3 million customers and 2.4 million servers in more than 425 datacenters.

This is just the latest salvo in the cloud wars, even if Amazon Web Services still leaves the others trailing by a considerable margin. How the other contenders respond to Microsoft’s initiative remains to be seen.

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