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How the Cloud Makes Windows Irrelevant

06.12.2014
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Windows has been running on the majority of PCs for many years now. Microsoft successfully translated its client monopoly into a stronghold server position. However times are changing and it is no surprise that the new CEO of Microsoft is a Cloud expert. Cloud can make Windows irrelevant.

Why?
On the cloud you no longer use a client-server architecture. HTML5 has come a long way and is close to feature parity with most Windows GUI applications. HTML5 means that you can do mobile, tablet and PC without installation or client-side version management. This means that Salesforce, Google Apps, Workday and other SaaS solutions have become enterprise successes overnight. Mobile first means Android and iOS first.

However the cloud is also bringing deeper changes. Innovation has never been cheaper. You don’t need to invest in anything. Hardware is almost for free. Software solutions are just an API away. Storage is infinite. Distribution is global.

Mobile game companies were the first to experience overnight successes whereby on Monday they launched 2 servers and by Sunday they managed 5000.

The next frontier will be business software. Small and nimble SaaS players will become overnight successes. Their software stacks will be different however. SQL Server and even worse Oracle and DB2 database clusters are no longer enough. They technically don’t scale. They financially don’t make sense. They are extremely hard to manage compared to nimble alternatives.

Windows on the server is in no better shape. Docker and CoreOS are promising lightweight fast scale out. Ubuntu’s Juju is showing instant integration everywhere. The operating system is fast becoming a liability instead of an asset. Restarts of minutes to upgrade are not in line with 24×7 100% SLAs. In a time where each container tries to be as small and efficient as possible and upgrades need to be transactional and expressed in micro seconds, Windows is no longer the platform of choice. The cloud gave Ubuntu, an open source Linux operating system, up to 70% market share and growing. Remember what happened with Netscape and Real Player the moment Windows reached 80-90% penetration.

So what should Microsoft do?
The first thing is acknowledge the new reality and embrace & extend Linux. Many companies would love to migrate their .Net solutions to efficient Linux containers. Office on Linux Desktops is overdue. Why not give governments open source desktop solutions? They will gladly pay millions to boost their national pride. China did. Why would India, Russia, France, Germany, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the UK be different. Active Directory, Sharepoint and Exchange will loose market dominance if they do not embrace Linux. Windows phones with a Linux core could actually run Android apps and would level the playing field. Linux developers have been secretly jealous of the easiness to build great looking GUI apps. A Visual Studio for .Net on Linux and let’s be disruptive Go lang, Rails and Python would win developers mind share.
IoT and embedded solutions that hold a Microsoft Linux kernel would make Android sweet.
Microsoft Open Source solutions in which you get the platform for free but developers can resell apps and extensions will deliver Microsoft  revenue shares, support and customisation revenues. Pivotal is showing how to do just this. Instant SaaS/PaaS enablement and integration solutions are hot but CloudFoundry is not a Windows play.

But all of this is unlikely to thrive if Microsoft would keep its current internal structures. Just plainly buying some Linux thought leaders is unlikely to be enough. Microsoft could inspire itself in EMC where most people don’t know that RSA, VMWare and Pivotal all float into the same pockets. Consulting services & sales from one company are rewarded for selling products owned by the group. Office, Cloud, Phone, IoT and Business Software as independent units that can each determine how they interact with the Windows and Linux business units would accelerate innovation.

Let’s see if Redmond is up for change. The new CEO at least seems to have vastly improved chances of change…

 

Published at DZone with permission of Maarten Ectors, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Martyr Two replied on Thu, 2014/06/12 - 1:45pm

But the thing is, there is still a lot of people who want to do things outside of the cloud. And because of that, they are still going to need some kind of system that can handle tasks and services locally. Honestly, I don't want a lot of things in the cloud and where it is stupid to put it in the cloud... financial data, personal data, private data you want to never see the light of day in the public. This is because, whether by purpose or accident, that info will be used and seen by others. Facebook security oversites or Target hacks are just the beginning folks. The cloud is great, but it also opens up its own dangers. Use it responsibly.


Karol Lalol replied on Fri, 2014/06/13 - 2:16pm in response to: Martyr Two

I'm not anything like cloud advocate, but... Do you really believe that average company has better security than any decent cloud service?

I don't know any weaker argument against cloud than "I want my data safe, thus I believe in my IT department"

Raging Infernoz replied on Wed, 2014/06/18 - 11:23pm in response to: Karol Lalol

It is much easier to secure local resource than to hope a cloud system will do this and hope that you can keep connections to it secure; recent hacker intrusions, and USA and others intrusions of major cloud systems including forced compromises show what an illusion cloud security can be.  There are always new risks for service outsourcing; I've seen these first hand and read about plenty.  Even if a cloud system is somehow more secure, user or connection security compromise can still blow that security wide open and be far more vulnerable to this risk than for a local system; worse user security compromise could go unnoticed for far longer.


I agree with the author that Windows days are numbered; the much lower cost of free OS, commodity open hardware, and the well developed big system software ecosystem also make it much cheaper and easier to set-up and manage local and distributed company site infrastructure; so it is not just cloud VM infrastructure that threatens expensive, dated, and klunky Microsoft technology, and offering their own cloud services may not be enough to save Microsoft.

This is just a side effect of IP more rapidly being revealed as the parasitic emperor with no clothes; thus free and open product will become the rule, and many corporate rentier business models will collapse and go bankrupt.

Den D. replied on Mon, 2014/07/14 - 10:12am

HTML5 has come a long way and is close to feature parity with most Windows GUI applications

This is so far from reality, though. HTML5 is nowhere close to being able to replicate some of the fundamental API endpoints and performance achievements Windows apps (GUI or not) can replicate. Good luck writing a complex WPF-like app in plain HTML5 and JS.

Windows on the server is in no better shape. 

Remember that Azure still runs on Windows. And Azure is pretty popular among the big players (Apple being one of them with their iCloud infrastructure), so Windows Server is there to stay.
 

Restarts of minutes to upgrade

Would love to see some factual confirmation for this statement given the most recent Windows Server/Azure releases.

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