The Microsoft leadership team outlined its vision and strategy for the Asia-Pacific region at its annual analyst event in Singapore in March 2015. A diverse and impressive display of customers showcased the breadth of the provider’s capabilities across mobile, cloud, analytics, and digital. The clear message was that world is moving toward a mobile-first and cloud-first environment and that Microsoft will be at the very heart of enabling enterprises as they start their journey. Whether or not Microsoft’s plans prove successful, Ovum believes that it can differentiate itself in two key areas: IoT and cloud services.
Microsoft shows thought leadership in IoT and cloud
Although there is much industry chatter about the potential of IoT, the reality is that the technologies that form the foundation of this industry have been with us for more than a decade. Transforming business models has proved the biggest struggle for industry players, and many have fallen short in this area, never really finding a firm growth trajectory until recently.
At the analyst event Microsoft demonstrated its thought leadership in this area, showcasing customers such as ThyssenKrupp that have leveraged IoT with predictive analytics to become more service-oriented business. Cities in Indonesia and Taiwan that have worked with Microsoft to build smart cities concepts spoke of benefits such as improvements in traffic; environmental sustainability; and better access to education, healthcare and public transportation. Some indicated that they are preparing to take this to the next level, which usually involves leveraging big data and predictive analytics.
No more than a handful of global or regional cloud service providers will remain in a few years. The battle for global and even regional supremacy will be fought between AWS, Google, SoftLayer, and Azure. Azure seems to be gaining on AWS in Asia-Pacific; it has recently opened datacenters in Australia and Japan and is the first foreign provider in China through a partnership with Vianet.
Azure continues to match its principal rivals in terms of product and feature innovation and its new IoT suite aims to help businesses connect with their products and machines. It will provide remote monitoring and preemptive maintenance, increasing the reliability of businesses’ products and delivering a better customer experience. Azure has also convinced the market that it is not only for businesses that use Windows and write applications using Microsoft’s .Net programming tools, vastly broadening its audience. It has positioned itself as a hybrid cloud provider that can help enterprises migrate mission-critical workloads to the cloud.
The combination of Azure and Windows Server means Microsoft has public, private, and hybrid cloud platforms that can support any Asia-Pacific enterprise. The other notable differentiation with the competition is that Azure users are generally content with its levels of enterprise support. This is a big differentiation in this marketplace, where commodity pricing does not equate to quality support. Azure’s aggressive moves in Asia-Pacific have changed the dynamics of the market substantially at a time when almost every global provider has increased its presence in the region. The cloud aspirations of enterprises in the region have shifted toward using agility to innovate rapidly, and Azure is well positioned to take full advantage of this.
“Microsoft Azure intensifies the Asia-Pacific cloud race,” TE0005-000662 (November 2014)
Adrian Ho, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Services