Microsoft Azure Turns 8 Today

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Microsoft Azure, the cloud computing solution from the Redmond, Washington company turns 8 years old today and is in the middle of a significant growth spurt.  The solution was officially launched in 2010 and is a combination of Windows and Linux computing power with client-based SDKs that can be used to access the solution.

Although it started with humble beginnings, Azure has been growing rapidly.  It is now just shy of being a $29 Billion part of Microsoft’s overall revenue.  While Azure doesn’t get as much limelight as Google Cloud Platform or even Amazon’s AWS, it is a powerful and robust cloud solution for enterprises.

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Google Drive Sees Drag and Drop Feature Added

Google Drive has an update rolling out for the web version of the cloud storage platform that will come in handy for power users.  Over the course of the next few days, Google will be adding a drag and drop feature for folders to the service.  What this will mean is that a user could drag a file from their desktop to Google Drive while it is open in the Chrome browser and drop it into the storage service. This will all but end the time consuming and awkward opening up of a file dialog box to perform the feature.  Now if this sounds familiar, it should.  You can drag and drop files to the root of your Google Drive now.  This update allows you to drop directly to folders.

The news of the update came from the Google Apps Blog and in order to take advantage of the feature, you will have to be using the latest version of Chrome or Firefox and will have to have that browser tab open to Drive.

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Microsoft’s New World Order – It is Not Just About SaaS

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As we enter into 2015, Microsoft is on the verge of recapturing some of the cool factor that they lost nearly a decade ago to the likes of Apple and Google.  No longer is the Redmond company looked at as the “Necessary Evil” or “800 Pound Gorilla” but rather a new view of the company has slowly but steadily taking hold.  That is a company that provides services, software and solutions that you don’t necessarily have to add the additional costs of hardware to run.  Microsoft is full-on running to the Cloud and we as consumers will see the benefits but so will the Enterprise.  This run to the Cloud also has forced Microsoft to in many ways completely rethink their income streams.  No longer, especially in the consumer space, is the company able by-and-large to charge a flat fee for software.  Consumers have become conditioned to the App World and subscriptions and actually Microsoft probably has Apple to thank for that.

But how do you shift a company that has long been charging for software as a one-time license fee to a Software as a Service (SaaS) or Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) model without going bankrupt doing it and not alienating your customer base, particularly in the Enterprise?  Carefully.  Very carefully.  The challenge for Microsoft isn’t so much the consumer end of the equation.  It is the Enterprise.  Corporations large and small have for decades purchased software, installed in on hardware and paid maintenance on that software to keep it up-to-date and to get access to the latest version.  Complicating this matter has been Microsoft’s eye watering number of SKUs for what seemingly is the same product.  Even the most savvy Enterprise has been caught out by getting incorrect versions of product or, worse, been out of license compliance unbeknownst to them. While a lot of what Microsoft has been driving to the Cloud has been consumer focused, there is also a lot moving there for Enterprises which should also benefit them in the long run.

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OneDrive for Windows Phone Gets A Big Update

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The OneDrive for Windows Phone app has just had a big update drop in the Windows Phone Store that brings significant changes to the user experience along with several other key updates.  The new version 4.5 build is out now and you can get it free in the Store.

OneDrive for Windows Phone – Free – Download Now

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Microsoft Throws The Gauntlet On Cloud Storage

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Microsoft’s announcement yesterday of offering unlimited OneDrive storage for Office 365 users is, as it should be, a very big deal.  In effect, they have gone to the market and told everyone that not only can they offer a cloud storage solution, they can do it at a cost that nobody can compete with the possible exception of Apple or Google.  I say this not as a fanboy but as a realist.  Only a company with the experience and shear size of Microsoft could put into play such an audacious plan.  And if you are an executive at Dropbox or Box, I would be waking up this morning worried.

The challenge all cloud storage solutions have had to this point is that it is, effectively, a one-trick pony.  It does what it says on the tin in that it stores your files and photos in some way or another to the cloud.  But that is fundamentally the problem.  You are paying a monthly or yearly premium to simply store your content online so you can access it from anywhere.  Functional, yes.  Great value, no.

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