Home / Tech / The head of Microsoft’s data cloud business is 'battle hardened' and ready to face Google and Amazon on his home turf (MSFT)

The head of Microsoft’s data cloud business is 'battle hardened' and ready to face Google and Amazon on his home turf (MSFT)

rohan kumar microsoft

  • Rohan Kumar, who leads data applications on Microsoft’s cloud, spoke to Business Insider about the company’s strategy.
  • Kumar says Microsoft’s early commitments to the “hybrid” cloud market, a blended model that customers to store and process data on a public cloud, while keeping some of assets in-house, has been one of the company’s big advantages.
  • Now, as Google and Amazon come to that realization too, Kumar explains why Microsoft is in a strong position.
  • Read more BI Prime stories here.

Everyone has finally caught up to what Microsoft has been talking about for the past few years, says Rohan Kumar, corporate vice president of Azure Data at Microsoft.

Kumar, who leads data applications on Microsoft‘s cloud, is referring to hybrid cloud, a computing model that allows customers to store and process data on a public cloud, while keeping some of that work in their own data centers. 

“I think hybrid will be a pretty key play,” Kumar told Business Insider. “It’s something that guides all our investments.”

The hybrid cloud market is now worth about $63 billion, and could grow to $155 billion by 2025, according to estimates from Constellation Research.

When Microsoft reported its fiscal fourth quarter earnings results on Thursday, the company’s cloud business was the star of the show, helping boost Microsoft’s revenue 12% year-over-year. Those results are in no small part thanks to Microsoft’s early commitment to working with customers on their own terms, making it easy for corporations to move into the cloud one step at a time.

“It’s really about the customer journey,” Kumar said. “When you talk to an enterprise customer, you never have a greenfield scenario where they say, ‘I have the budget to move everything to the cloud.’ The conversation is always a lot more involved.”

Back in April, Google launched Anthos, which is now available and allows customers to run their applications on Google’s cloud, private data centers, and even other rival companies’ clouds. AWS also announced its own hybrid offering AWS Outposts last November. It will be available later this year. 

Read more: For the first time ever, Microsoft’s cloud business unit generated more revenue than the Windows or Office segments

Kumar says that unlike these companies, which focused on cloud first, hybrid cloud has been Microsoft‘s strategy “since the beginning,” and that’s because of Microsoft‘s deep relationships with enterprise customers as well as its technology.

“For years, we’ve spoken about this,” Kumar said. “I do see when you look at the other clouds, they talk about having a hybrid story. The realization is coming.”

You can build it, but that doesn’t make it battle hardened

Kumar says that compared to newer players like Amazon and Google, products like Microsoft’s data warehouse are powerful because they’re steeped in a legacy of working with customer data.

“Decades of customer workloads have run on it,” Kumar said. “Technically you can build this stuff up but it gets battle hardened by running a lot of customer workloads. We have an advantage over there.”

And compared to other legacy companies, like Oracle, Kumar says Microsoft‘s data products are specially designed to work with the cloud.

“Take a look at the Oracles of the world. They run a lot of mission critical workloads,” Kumar said. “We’ve come from that world and we sort of moved ahead.”

Hybrid cloud is an “incremental step” that customers can take without disrupting the process, Kumar says, and if they want to move more of their applications to the cloud later on, hybrid cloud makes it a lot easier for them to do that.

“We’re really meeting the customers where they are,” Kumar said. “We’re deeply understanding what is important for their business.”

SEE ALSO: This startup is giving away all its database software for free as open source, and it says it’s not afraid of Oracle or Amazon

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