Cloud computing is a Microsoft priority

Microsoft is building six large data centers in North America, Northern Europe, and Asia to support its cloud computing initiatives in the word's major economies, said Matt Thompson, an 18-year Sun Microsystems veteran until a year-and-a-half ago, when he became Microsoft's general manager, developer and platform evangelism for the Azure cloud. "We don't want to ship bits across large bodies of water," he said, allowing that service to Australia remained an unsolved problem without navigating bits across part of the Pacific. Each region has two data centers in separate locations. Microsoft built a data center near a source of cheap electricity for 300,000 servers outside Chicago and opened it for public viewing last fall.

"We want to put Microsoft data centers in the most important economies of the world. This is the single biggest build-out in the company's history. Only a few companies could make this kind of investment," Thompson added. He was one of the featured speakers opening yesterday's conference general session at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

In a 12-minute address, he echoed Ballmer at the University of Washington earlier this month: "We're all in on the cloud."

Thompson said Microsoft will also concentrate on extending Azure cloud services out to the edge of the network where they will be accessible by cell phones, including the Apple iPhone, Google-based Android phones, and other handheld devices. Outside the U.S., he noted, "phones have been the main computing device for accessing the cloud" in such places as Brazil, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.

90% of Microsoft employees are most likely doing something that carries out the company's commitment to cloud computing, within a year

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