Is Microsoft the New Safe Harbor?

The following is a guest post from Ray Wang of Altimeter Group. I wrote a different title, but otherwise this is as it appears on his blog.

Clients Now See Microsoft As The Neutral Vendor, Hence All The Questions

Just less than 3 years ago, Microsoft was still perceived as part of the “evil” empire.  Business leaders worried about the complicated and expensive licensing and pricing structures.  IT leaders bemoaned the lock-in and proprietary and often buggy software.  But in a reversal of fortune, customers now worry about Google lock-in, fret over Oracle’s quest to dominate IT through M&A, wonder how hardware vendors will become software providers and vice versa, and remain in shock as Apple’s proprietary and closed approach over takes Microsoft’s market cap.

In conversations with 71 business and IT leaders, the perception on Microsoft has definitively shifted.  In fact, more than 74.6% (53/71) see Microsoft as the neutral and trusted supplier.  With an aging and retiring workforce that grew up on IBM and SAP, the next generation of IT leaders increasingly will exert their leadership and run to their comfort zone of Microsoft and Oracle.  (Note: Don’t expect this to last as the next generation of IT leadership comprises of millennials and digital natives who will try to move everything to open source and the cloud.)  Consequently, Microsoft’s technology offerings receive a renewed interest and reinvestment among customers, partners, and critical OEM’s.  Among this group, many are attending TechEd 2010 in New Orleans, LA.  Key questions they will be asking include:

  1. When will Azure have a viable business model for partners, OEM’s, and customers?
  2. Is Silverlight really ready for prime time or should organizations still leave one foot i the door with HTML 5?
  3. What true social features will Microsoft deliver in Sharepoint, UC, and Office?
  4. After wasting a decade with Windows Mobile can Windows Phone 7 really beat out iPhone?
  5. What will the rise of NoSQL databases and in memory computing mean for SQL Server?
  6. Will Office Web Apps emerge as a significant challenger to Google’s App strategy?
  7. How quickly can Microsoft convince other apps vendors to adopt the STB platforms?
  8. Will Internet Explorer ever become W3C compliant?
  9. What’s Microsoft doing to win over the Web 2.0 crowd?
  10. What partner ecosystems will Microsoft have to rely on to gain leadership in the Cloud?

What’s your question?

The Bottom Line For The Buyer – Advances In Cloud Computing Force Organizations To Reevaluate Bets On Technology Platforms

Today the bulk of the market rests with IBM, JBOSS, Microsoft, and Oracle for technology platforms or middleware.  As cloud platforms emerge, expect new competitors such as VMForce to vie for market leadership against the legacy providers.  While most attendees at TechEd represent the faithful, attendees who are prospects, OEM’s, or mixed shops should take the time to ask the key questions.  A shift has occurred and organizations need to make the bet on how they will address hybrid deployment models and the different flavors of cloud computing.  Moreover, organizations need to place bets on next gen technologies.  One time honored technique – stay focused on the ratio of business impact and cost of delivering IT services.   The result – achieve improved alignment with business and IT.

Your POV

Are you becoming more and more a Microsoft shop? If so, why? If not, what’s keeping you from making the transition?  What’s your cloud strategy for development?  Do you have a question you want to ask at TechEd but won’t be there?  Add your comments to the discussion or send on to rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwareinsider dot org and we’ll keep your anonymity.

About Merv Adrian
Gartner Research VP, technology analyst and consultant, 30 years of industry experience, covering software mostly, hardware sometimes.

3 Responses to Is Microsoft the New Safe Harbor?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Is Microsoft the New Safe Harbor? « Merv's Market Strategies for IT Suppliers -- Topsy.com

  2. Mark Smith says:

    Interesting perspective. My clients and research less worried and concerned about Microsoft. Slow product cycles and lack of leadership on innovation has most saying it is what it is or they need to be sleepless in Seattle!

  3. Merv Adrian says:

    Ray’s asking many of the right questions, and if analysts are a bit out in front of clients’ immediate needs, that’s healthy. I’m looking forward to seeing how well Microsoft tells the product cycle and innovation story here (at TechEd and the BI Conference.) More as I digest it all…

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