Elop who met with many local business users as well as Telstra on his visit to Australia said that cloud computing was top of mind with many. (This may come as a surprise to technology analyst Gartner which last week issued the results of its CIO survey which suggested cloud computing wasn't at the pointy end of Australian CIOs' to-do list).
Even so according to Elop; 'The world cloud was discussed with every single meeting I had with every single customer - it's top of mind and leading topic of conversation. Almost without exception they are saying 'we understand there is this concept, we want to learn more and what the potential impact is on our business'.'
Enterprises were also wondering, he acknowledged, how to deal with the broad range of regulatory and legislative regimes which may influence where they keep their data. Australian users of the Microsoft cloud services will find their applications and data hosted mainly in the company's Singapore data centre, according to Fellows.
According to Elop, at present; 'A lot of what is happening is customers making decisions to take email or collaboration infrastructure into the cloud. Why are they doing that? First and foremost they look at reducing costs.
'We can run those products at much larger scale and hence much lower cost than a typical customer is able to do. They are also looking to get out of the challenges of maintaining the software, because they know we can do it at scale faster and more efficiently than they can.
'They are very interested in making sure their IT resources are focussed on things in their enterprise that will differentiate them and better compete. Email is essential but not necessarily providing competitive differentiation for them.'
Elop has a good understanding of enterprise level issues having joined Microsoft a little over two years ago from Juniper Networks where he had been chief operating officer. He had previously been CEO of MacroMedia before it was acquired by Adobe, where Elop went on to become president.
At present most of the Microsoft applications available via Telstra's T-Suite are communications or collaboration focussed. Elop said that as Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 rolled out, part of the core functionality of the products would be available in the cloud, and Australia would be at the leading edge of deployment of those service capabilities.
'A lot of work is being done so they are well connected with the cloud. If you are working in Word you can save on PC, or save up into the cloud just as easily.'
Elop said that a browser based version of the products would also be available.