Microsoft CEO: In public cloud, go big or get the heck out

Building a global cloud is a huge opportunity but also a money pit. So if you’re a tech provider and haven’t already invested multiple billions in data centers and other infrastructure to support your cloud, you might as well use someone else’s. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella didn’t say those words exactly, but it’s the gist of what he told CNBC in an interview on Monday.

“I think that if you’re not already spending a lot of capital in the order of four or five billion dollars each year to just grow your cloud, probably it’s a little too late to enter the market. I mean, that’s the entry barrier, and there are a few of us who are in that mega-scale of cloud,” Nadella noted in advance of a [company]Microsoft[/company] cloud event to be held in San Francisco Monday.

Clearly, current telcos and network operators have to be in this business, but there are a handful — countable on fewer than five fingers — of  those “mega-scale” cloud providers that are also playing on this global stage, Nadella said.

In our case we’ve been committing to it for multiple years and we’re not alone. There are at least two other players like that, [company]Amazon[/company] and [company]Google[/company] in particular. But we are one of the three in that category. And the way we’ve not only done that, but one of the things that we’ve really invested in is this enterprise cloud, which is — we have data centers in 19 countries.

But, as Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said at Gigaom’s Structure 2014 event in June, Nadella also acknowledged that public cloud will not be a “winner take all” market. “I don’t believe that one single North American company or a couple of North American companies are going to corner the world’s compute, storage and network,” he noted.

At Structure 2014, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s top cloud guy who will also be on hand at Monday’s San Francisco event, said Microsoft is prepared to keep meeting and beating any price cuts to come from Amazon and/or Google to win business.

Check out the video links below to see Structure 2014 chats from Vogels, Guthrie and Google cloud chief Urs Hölzle.