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Microsoft: Conflicted Cloud Strategy? Enterprise vs. Consumer

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Microsoft: Conflicted Cloud Strategy? Enterprise vs. Consumer

Microsoft continues to deliver on its enterprise promises, but backtracks on the consumer side.

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Microsoft has made several positive leaps in the way of open source and cloud-based strategy that have many developers and IT professionals excited about its future. More recent leaps include making .Net for server open source and moving to Office365. Regular contributor Josh Anderson’s The Future of SharePoint?[1] details an exciting next year for SharePoint—whatever your current feelings are on the software. Besides the expected enhanced end-user experience and more efficient integration of common business interfaces, SharePoint 2016 will boast a more hybrid-cloud ready infrastructure, better security options to handle data migration, and impressive on-premises options to supplement the cloud experience.

The new Red Hat and Microsoft partnership, announced on Wed, November 4th, also exemplifies Microsoft’s dedication to cloud computing. The duo will focus on .Net development and integrating each other’s cloud solutions. Once the partnership finalizes, Red Hat’s Linux solutions will be available to run on Microsoft Azure, and a collaborative support effort will be in place to manage the interoperability. [2]

However, despite these significant advances to support cloud computing and open source development within the enterprise sphere, Microsoft is lagging when it comes to general consumers. Last Monday (November 2nd), Microsoft OneDrive’s team announced a major cutback in storage [3] capacities due to a minute amount of users who at times exceeded 75 TB per user, clearly taking advantage of the unlimited storage. OneDrive cited not only these users, but also its “pursuit of productivity and collaboration” as the cause for a new, limited plan that will roll out in early 2016.  Major changes include:

  • Nixing unlimited storage with 365 subscription and giving 1 TB instead.
  • Eliminating 100 GB and 200 GB paid plans, offering only 50 GB.
  • Reducing free storage from 15 GB to 5 GB.

These changes question Microsoft’s dedication to supporting the future of the cloud. Smaller companies often pop up who offer free storage options with much larger capacities. Even Google – Microsoft’s main competitor—offers free 15 GB on Google Drive. As a few rather angry commentators point out, the new model provides less storage in many cases than it offered before its unlimited package just last year. For example, free storage is only 5 GB now, whereas it was 7 GB before. If Microsoft truly valued productivity and collaboration, it wouldn’t limit users’ ability to access their data.

Beyond the practical concerns that this raises for OneDrive’s users, such as cost and data availability, this raises a much larger concern for Microsoft. If they continue to flip flop on their offerings, the general consumer will continue to lose faith in Microsoft as a company. And despite whatever advances they can make in the enterprise and with IT professionals, the company will still suffer if they cannot make the same advances in the eyes of the non-IT community. This reneging on promises makes me wonder where Microsoft’s true priorities lie: is it pursuit of innovation, or pursuit of money?

[1] https://dzone.com/articles/what-is-the-future-of-sharepoint

[2] DZone: https://dzone.com/articles/red-hat-microsoft-team-up-to-expand-enterprise-clo // Red Hat: https://www.redhat.com/en/about/press-releases/microsoft-and-red-hat-deliver-new-standard-enterprise-cloud-experiences // Microsoft: http://openness.microsoft.com/blog/2015/11/04/red-hat-microsoft-azure/

[3] https://blog.onedrive.com/onedrive_changes/

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