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Microsoft Plants Web Service Seeds in New Server Farm

Somebody -- this time, Fortune magazine -- has trotted out the old Microsoft-is-becoming-IBM line again, suggesting that Google is rapidly making Redmond look like a dinosaur (or a chicken, depending on your views on evolution).

While it's true that Google is running rings around its more elderly competitor in the search business, and that Steve Ballmer and friends don't always seem entirely sure of what to do with this new-fangled Software as a Service thing, at least the aging heavyweight in Redmond isn't standing still in the face of its younger challengers. (Microsoft did recently offer to help ISVs with their SaaS apps, though).

Witness this week's opening of the company's largest server farm yet, a massive complex spanning the size of seven soccer fields that will hold the geek gear that will provide the back-end for all sorts of Web-based services, from (according to the article linked) Xbox Live to Dynamics CRM Live. (One would hope that there would be little chance of mixing those two applications up, thereby sending the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game to befuddled sales reps and throwing order-tracking capabilities to frustrated gamers. But we digress.)

There's another massive center in the works near San Antonio that will cost Redmond a half-a-billion dollars. Actually, that's approximately the same amount of money that Microsoft spent to advertise Vista. Let's hope the data center turns out to be a better investment.

Whatever Microsoft's ultimate SaaS strategy is, it's clear that the company is spending some serious money to implement it. Whether it can execute on successfully providing "live," non-packaged applications is another question -- one we won't be able to answer until we see the crops these new server farms yield.

We're still happily taking your thoughts on Microsoft's SaaS strategy. Keep sending 'em our way at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 04/18/2007 at 1:20 PM


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