Opportunities for companies in China to run Azure in their own datacenters

In my job I get to see and experience a lot of technology and today I got to get my hands on one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in a while.  It was a proof of concept deployment of the Windows Azure Services for Windows Server which we did within the datacenter of one of China’s top enterprises.


I’ve known that Microsoft has been building this for quite some time but this was the first time I was able to really dig in deep to see how impressive it is.  In case you aren’t familiar with it, at the Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in July we released the first CTP of a set of Windows Azure Services which can be run on top of Windows Server and System Center.  It provides anyone with at least a couple of servers the ability to run a portal which looks just like the Windows Azure portal and provide Web Sites, VMs, SQL and MySQL just like Windows Azure. 

Going through the proof of concept this morning I was really impressed with how elegant the solution is.  It leverages the power of Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) within System Center 2012 for all of the infrastructure management and uses the VMM APIs for deploying Web Sites, VMs, etc.

Now, back to how this could be huge for Chinese companies. 

Currently there are no cloud service providers that have established themselves as the leaders in China.  The companies that are dominating cloud outside of China (Amazon, Microsoft & Google) don’t offer services from a China mainland datacenter.  Even if a company is willing to deploy their services in one of these company’s datacenters outside of China the complexity of the Chinese network topology make it impractical from a performance perspective to deploy services targeting end users in China.  Of course there are some workloads which are an exception to this but for many of the cloud’s most useful workloads like media and entertainment, backend services for mobile apps, etc. datacenters outside of China are not an option. 

Even if these cloud providers launches a public cloud service from a China mainland datacenter there will still be a lot of opportunity.  After all, there are over 1 billion mobile subscribers and apps like Tencent’s Weixin/WeChata with over 100 million users, you see the opportunity.  Cloud is also one of the three technology focus area’s in China’s 12th 5-year plan along with Internet of Things and 3 Network Convergence, which is attracting a lot of investment from the Chinese government and Chinese entrepreneurs.

There have been attempts by local players like Alibaba, Baidu and Shanda to provide a cloud service but none have really taken off for a number of reasons which is a topic for another blog post or over drinks.  There aren’t any dominant players in hosting like Rackspace or Media Temple in China.  Instead there a lot of smaller companies offering hosting or colo’d within telco datacenters of China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.

All of this combined with many Chinese companies’ preference for keeping data and services within their own organizations’ control makes the timing of this release of these Windows Azure Services perfect. 

For large companies and government organizations that already have a large datacenter footprint/ownership they could deploy a world-class public cloud solution based on the Windows Azure Services.

For smaller companies they could quickly come up to speed on deployment and operation of these Windows Azure Services and specialize in implementing private cloud deployments within enterprises, government organizations, etc.

For ISVs they could build out a billing solution which is integrated with Chinese payment systems and local business practices.

These are exciting times and I’m glad to be a part of it!  If you want to discuss these opportunities more just let me know.

What is Beyond Yoda?

For the past 10 years, like many bloggers, I’ve blogged off and on with some periods that were really active and other times when I’ve focused on other parts of my life. The past two years have been all about understanding China. I’ve immersed myself in learning the language, meeting friends in my new home and getting to know the business and technology landscape. Although I feel like I’ve learned a lot over these past few years, I also know I’ve barely scratched the surface which is why I’m so excited for what the coming years will bring as I continue my China journey. In summary I can say that, I LOVE CHINA!

I love this old Beijing ride that sits outside my door
I love this classic Beijing ride that sits outside my door.

So… What’s the name "Beyond Yoda" all about? As I did some soul searching on where I want to focus the next chapter in my blogging journey a few topics just kept bubbling to the surface, Cloud Computing and Big Data. Those are areas that I’ve focused my career on and are also trends that I believe will just continue to become more important through this decade. But I wasn’t happy with just focusing on technology… I’m surrounded by a lot of brilliant people whether they are friends, family, colleagues at Microsoft, leaders of China’s top tech companies, developers launching the next startup or seasoned VCs. I love talking to these people about the future evolution of society and technology which leads me to "Beyond Yoda".

Yotta kind of sounds like Yoda.

The yottabyte is a unit of information or computer storage equal to one septillion bytes (one quadrillion gigabytes).

1024 bytes = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes  -Wikipedia

Now that’s Big Data!

But… What’s Beyond that?  Not just from a data perspective but from the perspective of life…  The evolution of society…  The evolution of technology…  My own evolving path.

Hence Beyond Yoda was born.

Here I will explore my thoughts around business focusing on China and other emerging markets, technology focusing on Cloud Computing, Big Data and Connected Apps, and adventure which is easy to find living in the heart of Beijing!

Please contact me anytime you have suggestions on how I could improve the site or if you’re interested in linking up over drinks to talk about the trends in technology and society.

Middle Kingdom Here I Come!

Back in March of 2008 I wrote a series of posts about doing business in China, high context communication and Guanxi.  These were inspired while I was attending an internal Microsoft event.  Earlier this year during a similar event, inspiration struck again and now I’m moving to Beijing!  I’ll continue to focus on driving adoption of Microsoft’s data platform, Cloud and Web technologies with a laser focus on the Chinese market.

imageI see this move as a pivotal next step in my personal development and understanding of culture, technology and emerging markets.  This type of opportunity is exactly why I came to Microsoft back in 2007.  When I go back and read my post, Todo Tiene Su Final, recounting my experiences going through IE’s Global MBA, I’m reminded of the inspiration I felt moving into that big transition in my life.

The past three years living in Seattle, working as a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft have been incredible.  Some of the highlights that stand out are:

I’m really going to miss the amazing Seattle summer, my friends and family, and being so close to Maui; but I’m ultra grateful for the opportunity Microsoft is providing.

imageI have so much to learn, not the least of which is Mandarin!  After doing some research I decided to use fluenz and I’m really impressed by it.  The passion and attention to detail the fluenz team has put into developing their products is immediately clear.  It should be an inspiration for all of us dedicated to delivering high-end user experiences.  My goal is to be conversationally proficient by end of this year.  Wish me luck 🙂

In addition to learning the language and diving deeply into the technology scene I’m planning to doing some bicycle touring and mountaineering which should be a great way to experience the country.  I’ve been getting really into photography lately and I’ll try to post more pictures here.

I find it really interesting how opportunities in life unfold.  For me it’s always been about throwing myself out there and being open to new experience and adventure.  If living in China is anything like my experience living in Spain, I’m sure it will be life defining.

If you are in China and want to connect, just let me know!

Chinese Communication Style (High Context)

As I mentioned in my post earlier I was really looking forward to the session about Chinese communication.  It totally met my expectations!  The most important thing that I got out of the session was the importance of high context communication within Chinese culture.

The speaker gave two examples which I thought explained her point very well.

Example 1
The Chinese professor may be hot and want the window opened.  Instead of asking her student to open the window she may ask the student, “Are you hot?”   Hopefully the student understands that what she was really asking in an indirect way was, “Will you please open the window?”.

Example 2
An American visitor goes to a Chinese coworker’s house for dinner.  The American guest compliments what a beautiful painting that’s on the wall.  The next day the American finds the painting on her desk.  The Chinese visitor thought that the American’s compliment was a subtle request for the painting.

That’s exactly the type of critical understanding of a different culture which I think helps get along in new environments.

Has your experience in China been the same?