A Microsoft cloud exec says what sets Azure apart from rivals like Amazon and Google is 'trust' and that it's never 'focused on competing with our customers'

  • Microsoft Azure Global corporate vice president Tom Keane said what sets the company apart from rivals is trust, and that it is never "focused on competing with our customers in the respective industries."
  • Keane didn't call out Amazon Web Services by name, but his comments reflect a common refrain about the market-leading cloud: That customers are hesitant to sign on with AWS because they could one day find themselves competing with Amazon itself.
  • Amazon Web Services is still the most dominant cloud in the industry, with Microsoft widely considered a strong second-place contender.
  • Keane also said the pandemic, which has forced a massive shift to remote work, has given customers more confidence in the cloud and helped Microsoft lure coveted customers and workloads.
  • Are you a Microsoft employee? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-425-344-8242) or email ([email protected]).
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As Microsoft tries to catch up to Amazon in the cloud computing market, cloud executive Tom Keane said what he thinks sets Microsoft apart in the industry is "trust."

"We are, first and foremost, focused on making our customers successful," Microsoft's Azure Global corporate vice president Tom Keane said this week at Deutsche Bank Technology Conference. "There's never a scenario in which we're focused on competing with our customers in the respective industries in which they reside."

Keane didn't mention Amazon Web Services by name, but a common refrain in the tech industry is retailers, and anybody else who might compete with Amazon, are reticent to sign on with its market-leading cloud business Amazons. Amazon has yet to respond to a request for comment.

AWS is still by far the No. 1 cloud provider, followed by Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, according to the most recent market research from analyst firm Gartner. While Microsoft is seen as making considerable progress in the cloud wars, Amazon is still far and away the one to beat.

Microsoft, according to Keane, has won customer trust by making investments in security, compliance, and connectivity (Microsoft's cloud had some capacity issues earlier this year, which it said was due to surges in demand and capacity issues related to the coronavirus crisis, but has been investing in infrastructure).

The way Keane sees it, these investments has helped lure enterprise customers' most sophisticated workloads, and the pandemic has helped to drive confidence in Microsoft's cloud.

"Cloud is resilient," he said. "We've become effectively the critical infrastructure that underlies many parts of society right now, and that is given a lot of customers confidence to move that most sophisticated workloads and most important workloads over to cloud."

The pandemic, Keane said, has "broken down some of those concerns that may have existed inside an organisation, around a particular workload was ready for cloud or if a particular scenario could be performed remotely." This has benefitted not just Azure but Teams chat app and Microsoft's virtual desktop, and has helped Microsoft court customers within highly coveted industries like financial services, in his view.

Microsoft is also helping customers optimize cloud costs and usage amid the pandemic, Keane said. Amazon's chief financial officer has said the same thing about AWS. While those cuts can affect Microsoft's bottom line, he said the company is more focused on getting customers to adopt its cloud. Microsoft, he said, is "laser-focused on adoption, which is the leading indicator of success."

Are you a Microsoft employee? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected], message her on Twitter @ashannstew, or send her a secure message through Signal at 425-344-8242.

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