Three reasons Microsoft Cloud Computing is good for the Northwest

Last week I joined the operations group within the Microsoft Cloud Computing business.  I’m still ramping up, but I have had a chance to begin networking with some local people in the Cloud / SaaS space.  It is very interesting, and I feel the Northwest is going to be a hub of this movement.  Here’s why:

1) Job creation – I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s a recession on.  This has caused a lot of very good, very smart IT/IS people to look for new opportunities.  Seattle has always been a technology hub, which I assume means there are more of these folks available than in other cities (with the exception of San Francisco, New York, LA, and maybe Dallas).  The growth of managed IT services is creating jobs for these folks.

2) Better for the environment – Servers take a lot of juice, and setting up a coal plant in Redmond wouldn’t be the best PR move.  Luckily, the Northwest is home to cheap, renewable hydroelectric power.  Many data centers are being built near dams (not just for Microsoft, Google and probably Amazon are doing this as well).  Dams may not be the best thing for salmon, but they are great for hosted data.  Also, less packaging will go into software distribution, meaning less CDs, boxes, and cellophane in the landfill.  You’ll simply subscribe to our software and start using it, with nothing to install.

3) More efficient for business – Businesses are the big winners here.  Less manufacturing, distribution, and maintenance will forever be involved in business productivity software.  If you run a business, you’ll be able to download or instantly access updates.  Distributing software and granting access to new users will involve checking a couple of boxes, instead of wiping a laptop and installing software from a CD.  You won’t have to buy or maintain a server.  It all just makes sense.

My friend Lanny Milhollandcompared it to the early 1900’s, when people used to create their own “power” from mills, windmills, coal, etc.  Eventually electricity became a utility, and people could “subscribe” to a central, shared power plant operated by a single party.  This is the direction software has been going for a while, and with major players like Microsoft shifting their focus, it will be the norm very soon.