WPC 2010 has now come to a close, and if there was one message that was made abundantly clear this week it was that Microsoft is all in when it comes to the cloud. But what does that really mean? My bet is that you will get a different answer from everyone you ask. After attending the keynotes and talking with Bamboo Partners and Microsoft folks all week, in my opinion, it doesn't really mean much. Microsoft, like Bamboo, has always positioned itself to support existing and prospective customers regardless of the type of infrastructure those customers have in place. If you are operating on-premises, hosting, a combination of the two, software + services, etc. – we have products to support your needs. I think it's a big marketing push to make sure the market knows that Microsoft has a cloud story, particularly as the competition heats up around Google and Salesforce.com. When Microsoft began to position itself around their ability to support customers in any environment, the competition took that as an indication that Microsoft wasn't serious about investing in the cloud. That I know is not true, as their R&D budget exceeded $9 billion dollars in FY10. But without pushing the cloud story front and center, loud and clear, throughout this WPC, they might have risked the continuation of that false perception. Microsoft certainly does have a cloud story, but in my opinion – it's still a story. The market will not fully embrace it until a number of security, privacy, and scalability issues are resolved, and though it will most certainly happen, I don't believe that will happen for some time yet. Sure, there are the early adopters, but I still believe it's largely business as usual.
Outside of listening to the hype around the cloud this week, I have been spending most of my time meeting with Microsoft employees in the SharePoint space, and with our fabulous Bamboo Partners. This is my sixth Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and I think this one was the biggest in terms of attendees. The official stats I heard were 9,400 partner organizations making up 10,000+ attendees in addition to 3,000 Microsoft employees. That is a lot of people to shuffle around, feed, accommodate, entertain – so hat's off to the logistics team that put on the Conference for running it so smoothly. I used the standard WPC Connect tool to set up meetings with Bamboo Partners to discuss our partnership, the market, the opportunities within their business, the roadmap for Bamboo products (including the cloud, of course!) – and several other things. Bamboo Partners are building some great solutions on the SharePoint platform. Look for an updated SharePoint at Work publication in the near future to highlight some of them.
At this time I would like to thank and give a shout out to some of the Bamboo Partners I had a chance to meet with: speakTECH out of Southern California, with offices in Northern California and Texas; RBA Consulting out of Minneapolis with offices in Dallas and Denver; West Monroe out of Chicago, with multiple office locations; Ettain Group out of Charlotte, NC; amexus out of Germany; Abel Solutions out of Atlanta, Georgia; ICS Solutions out of the U.K; Oakwood Systems and Covenant Technology Partners out of my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri; Blue Rooster out of Seattle; Applied Knowledge Group of Reston, VA; C5 Insight out of Charlotte, NC, and many others that I ran into along the way. While visiting the Expo Hall, I spent some time with one of our newer Partners, Apptix (Psst! Bamboo products are now included and available in many of their hosted SharePoint offerings). Our partnership with Apptix was among the first steps Bamboo took in building our own cloud story. O' Cloud! Can't keep bringing it up. Marketing repetition works!