One of the harder issues that many IT organizations struggle with when it comes to contemplating a move to the cloud is licensing fees. The issue is that many of them have invested in Microsoft applications that, up until now, have not been transferable from on-premise systems into the cloud.
But as part of a major new cloud computing alliance with Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft announced that customers can transfer software licenses back and forth between their on-premise systems and cloud computing platforms managed by HP.
That announcement came as part of an agreement between the two companies to promote the integration of Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Lync software running on an HP cloud and Office 365 software running on data centers managed by Microsoft that HP will now also resell. The end result, says Mark Hill, vice president of the Microsoft Enterprise Partner Group, is a combined effort between HP and Microsoft to not only provide a seamless cloud computing experience, but also eliminate any financial issues associated with having to buy new software licenses.
The move to make the shift to the cloud less painful for customers comes at a critical time for Microsoft. The company has recently released updates to every one of its major enterprise applications at a time when many IT organizations are re-evaluating their entire IT strategy. As part of that exercise, many IT organizations are evaluating any number of open source and commercial offerings in the cloud that cost substantially less than Microsoft enterprise software licensing fees.
What works in Microsoft's favor, however, is that a lot of organizations are already heavily invested in Microsoft software. Retraining users and re-engineering existing workflow and business processes is not something that most companies really want to engage in during uncertain economic times.
In the meantime, as Microsoft has drawn closer to HP in recent months, the two companies have found common cause in promoting the deployment of Microsoft software on HP servers running both on premise and in the cloud. The ultimate goal, says Brandt Faatz, vice president of workplace services, HP Enterprise Services, is to give customers the flexibility they need to deploy Microsoft software in hybrid cloud computing scenarios that can be tailored to meet almost any specific requirement.
Arguably, Microsoft has been making slow but steady progress when it comes to the cloud, most notably in the form of Office 365 and the Azure cloud computing platform. The alliance with HP would suggest that as 2012 approaches, Microsoft is ramping up to get a lot more aggressive about creating a cloud computing ecosystem around its software in conjunction with system vendor partners across the entire cloud spectrum.