HP, Oracle, Microsoft prep for cloudapalooza

Next week, legacy tech powers Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Microsoft will vie for the spotlight as they set forth their cloud computing game plans at closely scheduled events. All three have prodigious resources and all three lag far behind cloud giant Amazon Web Services.

Today in Cloud

Despite significant investment, repeated affirmations at the highest level, and a range of worthy applications, Microsoft’s cloud aspirations tend to receive short shrift amongst cynical commentators. Wired‘s Cade Metz sat down recently with two Microsoft execs, Kurt DelBene and Satya Nadella, to hear their response to the oft-repeated question, “is [Microsoft] serious about cloud computing?” The evidence would suggest that, corporately, Microsoft is very serious indeed. It just has the unenviable task of turning a very large oil tanker around, and persuading the crew to stay aboard in the process. I wouldn’t discount Microsoft yet.

Today in Cloud

In a guest post for CloudAve, Intel’s Raejeanne Skillern picks up on a theme I’ve been pushing in conversation for a while. As she notes, “security” always features highly in any list of concerns, problems or issues with respect to cloud computing. That it’s a concern is right and proper; we should be concerned with security, in the cloud and elsewhere. But Raejeanne goes on to quote Microsoft’s Satya Nadella who said “security remains a top issue in cloud, but it isn’t just a cloud issue, it’s an issue for anyone with a network”. And that’s the important point. Given a simple list of phrases, and asked to check the “important” ones, there probably isn’t a CIO alive who wouldn’t tick the box next to Security. They’re concerned about it in their own data center, and they’re concerned about it in the cloud, but they’re not running around in a panic. They’re actively mitigating for that concern in the technologies that they deploy, the training that the deliver, and the procedures that they put in place. We can be concerned about security, whilst not using it as an excuse to avoid change. My personal takeaway from the Structure Conference Raejeanne was writing about? Security was no longer the first word on people’s lips, and that’s a good thing too.

For Windows Azure, AWS is a friend, not a foe

Satya Nadella - President, Server and Tools Business, Microsoft - Structure 2011It would be understandable for people to view Microsoft (s MSFT) Azure, the company’s enterprise cloud hosting service, as a direct competitive play.

After all, the product was launched in February 2010, well after Microsoft’s fellow software giants Amazon (s AMZN) and Google (s GOOG) had positioned themselves in the cloud computing space with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google’s App Engine, respectively. But according to Satya Nadella, the executive in charge of Azure, Microsoft sees the other players in the cloud space as peers– not competitors.

“Amazon has done a fantastic job of building the AWS business. They’re a partner to us. But at the same time we do overlap,” Nadella said Wednesday in an onstage conversation with Forbes’ Eric Savitz at the Structure 2011 conference in San Francisco.

Nadella noted that there is more than enough business for Azure to share– that in fact, that diversity is what clients demand. “It’s not just [about] building an application that’s completely resident in one cloud. Maybe people will put their storage in [Amazon] S3, and their computing in Azure, or vice versa,” he said. “A lot of customers nowadays talk about using multiple clouds.”

And Microsoft is not just talking the talk– it’s walking the walk. Nadella pointed out that Microsoft itself runs a “good chunk” of its Windows business on Amazon’s cloud service tools. Going forward, Nardella said Microsoft Azure plans to continue playing nice with others in the enterprise cloud offering space. “It’s not a total one-size-fits-all approach. My approach would be to partner as broadly as possible with many people within the business.”

Vid Picks: Carmakers Crash YouTube

Listening to most executives talk is a hard thing to do for more than two minutes at a time. There’s so much verbal obfuscation it starts to resemble a game of how to use the most words to say the least, leading to achievements like JetBlue (s jblu) CEO David Neeleman’s YouTube non-apology. But right now the big three U.S. auto manufacturers are trying to get their point across to the American people, using the tools of social networking…with minimal success.

The GM (s gm) Blogs initiative is firing on all of its social media cylinders — blogging, Twittering and YouTubing. But as Chris noted back in October, YouTube comments are still disabled, and while the blog is well-intentioned (and does allow commenting), it’s all pretty after-the-fact. A post from Dec. 2nd makes GM’s plan for long-term viability available to the general public. But if GM were really interested in what the American people thought, why didn’t they make the plan available before submitting it to Congress, actively soliciting ideas and incorporating feedback into the final product? The 7-minute-long video accompanying this blog post gives the less-than-dynamic Ray Young a chance to answer some questions about the plan. Not questions from actual people, though, just questions chosen by the marketing team to focus on the points they want covered: another missed opportunity for real interactivity. Read More about Vid Picks: Carmakers Crash YouTube

Yet Another Microsoft Memo. Satya Nadella, VP of Search Writes:

Well, like you I am finding that Microsoft memos are better at telling the story (or lack there off) than other people’s voices. Today, we got our grubby paws on Microsoft VO of Search Satya Nadella’s memo sent out to the troops. While I ponder over it, some quick thoughts via someone in the know at Microsoft:

“It consolidates portions of search back into the portal, MSN, from an organizational standpoint. It also tells us that any new branding to be done will be search only and that these others will retain MSN.”

Full memo, below the fold.

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