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Are companies warming to the Microsoft cloud strategy?

ATLANTA -- This year's Microsoft Convergence conference outlined a couple of important themes for companies trying to modernize their IT infrastructure, and a primary one was how they can use the cloud, mobility and data to connect information among business units and inform better decision making.

Celso MelloCelso Mello

But companies are still moving incrementally toward the cloud, given security concerns and a desire to continue to control IT infrastructure. At Microsoft Convergence, Celso Mello of Reliance Home Comfort, a home heating and cooling company based in Canada, talked about this reluctance and whether Microsoft's cloud strategy enables enough flexibility for companies to explore the cloud without overcommitting, or whether they want to take a more incremental approach in getting there.

"There is a lot of hesitation about the cloud," Mello said. "People are concerned about where their data might be and whether it is cost-effective. But at the same time, there's a lot of pull. People are interested in not having to deal with the infrastructure. You can move things around and not lose your investment."

Mello said that many companies have taken refuge in the prospect of using a hybrid cloud approach, where some applications and data reside in the cloud and some on-premises. With a hybrid strategy, companies can protect sensitive data behind their firewall while getting the cost, management efficiencies and collaboration possibilities of going to the cloud.

Mello also talked about the importance of integration for customers using business applications like Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP. That integration between "the front office and the back office, but also the productivity tools and their business applications -- case in point is Outlook with CRM" -- enables companies to integrate business processes and combine information, key themes outlined by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in describing the next phases of "ubiquitous computing."

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