Microsoft IT is implementing a cloud strategy that is key to enabling the Microsoft transformation into a devices and services company. In this article, we discuss how Microsoft IT is driving all of Microsoft to run in the cloud.
Make no mistake: the cloud is enabling the next generation of IT. CIOs who want to repurpose their existing IT resources into new premium services must adopt some form of cloud computing within their overall operational strategy. Why is embracing the cloud so critical?
The cloud doesn’t just help new services deploy and scale rapidly; it helps integrate IT efforts around Social, Mobility, and Big Data with each other—and with the organization’s underlying infrastructure services. As CIO, how are you leading your organization to the cloud?
Developing a successful cloud strategy for Microsoft IT began by changing the organization’s strategic focus from architecting technology solutions to measuring business benefits—a daunting task for most enterprises. The CIO worked closely with leadership teams and across organizations to drive readiness for this new vision. This included:
- Leadership teams must assume some level of risk and help a risk-averse culture adapt to value some risk through innovation. In the process, the leadership teams acknowledge the success and failures of risk-taking and provide a level of coverage to teams who want to incorporate the cloud into services and applications.
- Production application support and application development teams must step out of their comfort zones and take measured risks by deploying various scenarios to the cloud.
- In addition to changes to IT culture, specific roles within IT must adapt to support the cloud model. Once migrated to the cloud, IT organizations are less involved in the day-to-day operations of running servers, freeing them to take roles further up the value stack.
Once the cultural shift is underway, the cloud implementation can be planned. For Microsoft IT, this meant evaluating all available options: public, private, community, or hybrid cloud; Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Data as a Service (DaaS), or Business Process as a Service (BPaaS). Similar to many enterprise customers, Microsoft IT anticipated that some applications for various reasons, such as data security requirements, might never be appropriate for a public cloud, so a hybrid cloud model was selected. In addition, a hybrid cloud would improve operational costs through dynamic capacity allocation, hardware abstraction, and infrastructure consolidation.
As illustrated in the following figure, Microsoft IT’s hybrid cloud architecture supports IaaS and PaaS workloads using Windows Azure, and higher-level SaaS services including Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Office 365, and Yammer. This model essentially enables all of Microsoft to run in the cloud. It allows engineering teams to abstract themselves from the operational environment, to design for the cloud, and to operate services in the appropriate manner while taking costs and risks into account.
Of more than 1,100 production applications managed by Microsoft IT, more than 90% of them meet the requirements to move to either the company’s private or public IaaS environment, and 7% are being migrated into the PaaS environment. Fewer than 3% of the apps will stay on dedicated hardware.
Microsoft IT is reaping significant benefits from implementing its hybrid cloud:
- Improved agility: Faster provisioning, faster testing, and faster integration cycles enabled by the hybrid cloud results in quicker releases and more rapid proof of concepts with reduced infrastructure friction. This improved agility is an important contributor to the company’s transformation into a real-time enterprise.
- Reduced compute costs: Microsoft IT has already realized significant savings in compute costs by adopting virtualization. Additional cost savings are expected to be realized over the next few years as additional computing resources are moved into the company’s private cloud.
- Reduced operational costs: Microsoft IT estimates the hybrid cloud will result in a 7% gain in operational efficiency. When extrapolating this percentage to Microsoft IT’s more than 2,000 person engineering organization, these efficiencies yield an approximate 160 full-time employees’ worth of engineering capacity.
CIOs who want to build out their cloud capabilities to reap similar benefits as Microsoft IT must start by building a comprehensive and achievable cloud strategy. First and foremost, the leadership team must recognize that although embracing the cloud successfully requires change, this change will pave the road to cost improvements and business agility. By preparing the organization in advance for the requisite culture shift to the cloud, Microsoft IT is minimizing operational disruption, prioritizing new role definitions, and restructuring business process units to help the business achieve its goals.
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