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为何对微软来说,2017年是艰难的一年

财富中文网 2017年01月02日

在史蒂夫·鲍尔默时代的后期度过了艰难的几年之后,微软重新成为了华尔街的宠儿。不过该公司明年仍然任重而道远。

微软在并购方面表现糟糕,包括对诺基亚(Nokia)和aQuantive的收购,都导致了巨额减计。三年前取代鲍尔默成为首席执行官的萨蒂亚·纳德拉必须证明自己有能力领导微软做好大规模并购。也就是说,这家软件巨头如何处理最近完成的对LinkedIn 260亿美元的收购,将会吸引所有人的目光。

认为LinkedIn存在短板的人有许多。它的界面不太雅观,而且总是在鼓动用户分享消息并与他人互动,却不管用户是否愿意。真的会有人想给很久都不联系的好友发送节日问候吗?

不过LinkedIn也有自身的优势,最主要的一点在于其拥有的庞大信息量。微软希望利用这一大片数据宝藏,推动其面向企业的客户关系管理软件(CRM)的发展。销售人员可以利用这种软件来寻找和追踪销售机会。

尽管LinkedIn的界面糟糕,还有垃圾消息变多的趋势,不过这里拥有全球约4.67亿用户的数据。

微软希望利用这些数据发展自己的商业软件组合。如果你是使用Microsoft Dynamics CRM进行销售管理的销售人员,那么自动搜索顶尖公司特定岗位的人员,并将他们自动导入你的潜在客户名单,就是个很有用的功能。这就是为什么客户关系管理软件领域的领先网站Salesforce.com也想收购LinkedIn,只是他们的出价不如微软。Salesforce.com的创始人和首席执行官贝尼奥夫甚至用“M”来指代微软存在的“垄断”倾向。

大部分人之前并不会以这样的术语来评判微软。因为本世纪初,联邦法院曾认定该公司存在垄断,最后的结果却是在技术细节上存在这种问题。在那之后,苹果(Apple)的复兴,以及谷歌(Google)、亚马逊网络服务(Amazon Web Services)和Salesforce本身的涌现,打消了一切认为微软过于庞大和强力的想法。

贝尼奥夫抨击微软,称这次收购属于反竞争行为,要求微软让其软件竞争对手使用LinkedIn数据。尽管如此,这次收购还是得到了监管机构的批准,不过欧洲的监管者要求微软对社交网络开放Microsoft Graph和Microsoft Office的插件,以及LindedIn的编程接口。

微软需要改进上文提到的界面来增加LinkedIn的价值,公司表示他们已经着手开始做这件事。此外,微软还需要在让LinkedIn数据产生效益的同时,避免过多垃圾信息打扰到用户。

Azure云服务是微软在2017年必须大力推进的另一个关键领域,没有人怀疑这一点。

弗雷斯特研究公司(Forrester Research)的首席分析师戴夫·巴托雷蒂表示,迄今为止,微软在云计算领域已经投入了巨资,效果也非常理想。他补充道,很少有其他科技公司能“攒下”50亿到60亿美元资金投入到云计算数据中心里。

Azure是在微软全球各地数据中心里运行的大规模联网服务器和存储组,微软正努力把它打造成一个包括Linux操作系统在内的开源软件的平台。虽然Linux系统曾深受这家Windows公司厌恶,但却在帮助该公司的云服务进一步吸引Windows核心领域之外的开发者。

尽管如此,微软仍需要证明有更多人愿意使用Azure。Azure被视为第二大公共云服务,但与亚马逊的AWS相比却相差甚远。

微软表示,公司的云业务出现了大幅增长。不过在他们公布的数据里,Azure和其他非云计算软件包括本地运行的Windows Server全部被囊括在内。除非微软公布具体数字,否则我们不会知道Azure究竟挣了多少钱。而在Azure的收入能够与AWS比肩之前,这一点都不太可能实现。顺带一提,上个季度AWS的收入是32亿美元。

如果客户可以在自己的服务器机房里运行与Azure上一样的微软软件,那么微软的吸引力就会大增。因为如此一来,就意味着银行、医药公司等风险规避公司可以保留部分数据,并在自己的硬件上运行软件,只需将不太敏感的任务放在Microsoft Azure数据中心上处理。这种私人和公共计算设施相混合的情况,就是科技界所谓的混合云模式。

然而,在2017年中期以前,微软都无法兑现这个承诺。微软表示到那时,姗姗来迟的Azure Stack将会面世。这是微软运行其庞大的全球公共云数据中心网络的“迷你版”软件,可以让用户在自己的小规模设施上操作。理论上,这意味着客户的私人数据中心可以与微软运行的Azure协作,从而实现内部与外部数据中心的分工。

这是个很大的承诺。如果微软无法实现这一点,那么他们为需要规避风险的客户打造优于AWS的云计算解决方案就只是一句空话。 (财富中文网)

 

译者:严匡正

First and foremost, Microsoft, under Satya Nadella—who stepped in as chief executive, replacing Ballmer about three years ago—must prove it can do big acquisitions well. Microsoft's record there is checkered following misfires with Nokia and aQuantive—both purchases resulting in huge write-offs. That means all eyes will be on how the software giant does with its just completed $26 billion purchase of LinkedIn.

There's no shortage of opinions about where LinkedIn is weak. With a clunky interface, it incessantly nudges users to share information and interact with people they may or may not want to engage. Does anyone actually appreciate reminders to send holiday greetings to long-forgotten associates?

But LinkedIn has strengths as well—chief among them the sheer amount of information it holds. That's a big data treasure trove Microsoft (msft) hopes to parlay to boost the prospects of its business-focused customer relationship management software (CRM), used by sales people to enter and track sales leads.

LinkedIn, despite the interface and spammy tendencies, has data on some 467 million users worldwide.

Microsoft hopes to parlay that data to grow its own business software portfolio. If you're a sales person using Microsoft Dynamics CRM for sales management, it would be useful to automatically search for people with certain titles at top companies and automatically import them into your prospect list. That is why CRM leader Salesforce.com (crm) also wanted to acquire LinkedIn—only to be outbid. Benioff, founder and chief executive of Salesforce.com even dusted off the "M" word in referring to Microsoft's "monopolistic" tendencies.

Most hadn't thought of Microsoft in those terms since the early part of the century, when it was deemed a monopoly by a federal court judge, only to have that ruling over turned on a technicality. Since then, the advent of a resurging Apple (aapl), along with Google (googl), Amazon (amzn) Web Services (AWS), and Salesforce itself ended any illusion of Microsoft as overly huge and powerful.

Benioff blasted the proposed Microsoft deal as anti-competitive, charging that Microsoft could keep software rivals from using that LinkedIn data. The purchase nonetheless passed muster with regulatory agencies although European regulators mandated that Microsoft must give outside social networks the same access to the Microsoft Graph and Microsoft Office plug-ins and programming interfaces that LinkedIn gets.

Microsoft will need to add value to LinkedIn in part by improving the aforementioned interface—which it has said is in the works—but also monetize that LinkedIn data without alienating users with more spam.

Azure cloud is the other key area Microsoft must push hard in 2017 and no one doubts that it will do so.

Forrester Research (forr) principal analyst Dave Bartoletti says the software giant has thus far executed very well in cloud with a huge investment, he noted. Very few other tech companies can "find" $5 or $6 billion to pour into cloud data centers, he added.

Microsoft's effort to make Azure, a massive stockpile of connected servers and storage running in data centers worldwide, a home to open-source software including the Linux operating system, formerly anathema to the Windows company, has also helped make the company's cloud more attractive to developers outside the hard-core Windows world.

Having said that, the company needs to demonstrate more Azure usage going forward. Azure is seen as the second largest public cloud, but a distant second to AWS.

Microsoft claims huge cloud growth but the numbers it releases lump Azure in with other non-cloud software including Windows Server that run on premises. the world will likely not get a real look at how much money Azure generates until Microsoft breaks out that figure, and that probably won't happen till the Azure numbers compare well with AWS revenue, which, for the most recent quarter, was $3.2 billion.

Microsoft has a compelling story here if customers can run the same set of Microsoft software in their own server rooms that runs in Azure. That would mean that risk-averse companies like banks or pharmaceutical companies could keep some data and = software running on their own hardware, while tapping into Microsoft Azure data centers as needed for less sensitive work. That mix of private and public computing facilities is what is referred to in the tech industry as the hybrid cloud model.

However, Microsoft can't really deliver on that promise until the middle of 2017. That's when the company says it will make Azure Stack available, after a delay. Azure Stack is a sort of "mini-me" version of the software Microsoft uses to run its huge public cloud data centers around the world, but will instead operate in a customer's own smaller facilities. In theory, that means the customer's private data centers can work in tandem with the Microsoft-run Azure cloud allowing a segregation of workloads between internal and outside data centers.

This is a very big promise. If Microsoft cannot make good on it, one of its biggest arguments that it offers a better cloud solution for risk-averse customers than AWS will ring hollow.

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