Hopefully, you’ve been watching our coverage here at Windows IT Pro on the announcements from TechEd 2013. Centered around the new “Cloud First” mantra, Microsoft is pushing deeper and deeper into the Cloud, choosing to develop for the Cloud first, and then for on-premise technology. This is a complete 180 degree turn from the past. In the past, Microsoft would develop for the Enterprise and then attempt to retrofit the same features and functions into the Cloud. That’s no longer the case.

3 years ago, Microsoft’s Cloud message was convoluted and confusing primarily because they still had no idea where developing for the Cloud would take them. But, as Microsoft has finally started producing real technology advances, the message has become clearer and more believable. Chatting with those in the community, more people are now willing to consider the Microsoft path to the Cloud. Again, 3 years ago, IT folks heard Microsoft’s message and continually said, “No way,” “Never happen.” Those same people are now saying, “Maybe,” “Looks interesting,” and “I’m going to have to check that out.”

Microsoft is busy building a solution that customers will want, when they are ready. The Hybrid Cloud solution gives customers options. They can run on-premise but utilize the Cloud where it makes sense.  Microsoft is not forcing customers to the Cloud (like other vendors are), but simply continually improving a technology that customers can use if they want, or when they want (on the customer’s schedule).

Or so it seems.

Doing some digging here at TechEd, I’ve uncovered a bit of knowledge I’d like to pass on. As you know, or hopefully have read, Microsoft has accelerated their release schedules for all of their products. Initially, the quicker releases were communicated for Windows 8, but that has since changed to include all Microsoft products. As an example, per the announcement about R2 releases for System Center 2012 and Windows Server 2012 in the Fall, these products will release together. Why? Because they are now completely dependent on each other. The feature sets between product lines are blurring. In the future, count on multiple product releases (or updates) to coincide.

But, Rod, these are on-premises products you’re talking about. Why would that make the Cloud a better option?

Think about it. A Cloud offering eliminates a couple huge issues for IT and the business IT supports: upgrades and licensing.

Licensing continues to be a sore spot for Microsoft. No matter how many times they revamp their licensing agreements they remain the most confusing documents ever created. A subscription-based Cloud solution would eliminate the headaches of software licensing for both Microsoft and its customers.

Upgrading systems in the company is so time intensive and costly that it either never gets done, only gets accomplished a few weeks before end of life, or stalls out in the middle. Utilizing the Cloud means someone else performs the upgrades and users are always running the most current, cutting edge technologies.

Upgrades and Licensing make the Cloud a very palatable solution. And, Microsoft realizes it. As new releases are announced a couple times a year – significant releases, btw - IT will fall farther and farther behind in implementations. Eventually, business owners will start asking for functionality that can only be obtained through upgrades. At that point, it will make much more sense to utilize the Cloud to fulfill user requests than to build and implement a project plan for on-premise upgrades.

I’ve heard people say that the public Cloud is 5 years away. I believe it’s less than 2.

We’ll see.

At Windows IT Pro, it’s our job to ensure you are aware of coming trends.  Things are changing at such a fantastic rate it’s tough to ignore anything right now. No matter when it happens, it’s best to be ready.