2014 stands to be a pivotal year in the history of the world's largest software maker. Not only will Microsoft be nearing the end of its fourth decade in business, but it will be commandeered by only its third CEO and the first since the soon-to-be-retired Steve Ballmer took over from Bill Gates on Jan. 13, 2000.
While it is still the world's dominant provider of PC operating systems and workplace software applications, Microsoft famously has attempted to gain similar success in other lines of business for years. The company has experienced widely varying degrees of success in businesses such as video game hardware, smartphones, containerized data centers, automobile connectivity and cloud services, among others.
In the data center sector, the Redmond, Wash.-based company has invested a huge amount of capital in its Windows Azure cloud system in a concerted attempt to catch up with the runaway success of another Pacific Northwest company, Amazon. In fact, eWEEK learned through a Microsoft insider that the company has bought enough extra cloud-related data center hardware to cover 17 football fields--or 979,200 square feet. If each server or array takes up a footprint of three square feet, we're talking about more than 326,000 devices.
Company Has Bought Plenty of Capacity for Cloud
In 2014, Microsoft needs to start firing up all those servers and arrays for new customers, but this is extremely hard to do with Amazon so far out in front in cloud services. According to IT researcher Gartner, Amazon's stranglehold on the Web services market is such that its cloud computing service, AWS, has sold more than five times the combined capacity of the next 14 competitors, including Microsoft.
However, one area where Microsoft can expect to make some inroads next year is in cloud storage hardware and software sales, and not only because there is an insatiable demand for reliable services from all vendors. It is mostly because the company's October 2012 acquisition of StorSimple and its easy-to-use appliances is on a fast ramp upward.
A StorSimple appliance can be operated by anybody who is familiar with Windows, and that takes in just about everybody on Earth. It uses drop-down menus and wizards and requires a minimum of clicks. It classifies all content to determine whether it is a working copy or an older version. It keeps all working copies on local drives and automatically migrates all other content onto the cloud.
Automatic Processes Speed Production
The appliances automatically deduplicate content, which reduces total storage required by a large margin. Each block is then ranked using StorSimple's BlockRank algorithm to determine the company's working set of files that are necessary for everyday operations.
With only one-quarter of the data being stored locally and a deduplication ratio of 10, StorSimple reduces the amount of data that needs to be stored locally and moved over a wide-area network.