When someone of the stature of Steve Ballmer, CEO at Microsoft, stands up and dedicates his keynote speech at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) to the subject of the cloud you know this is a technology that he and his company believes has arrived.
Now Microsoft will point out that Ballmer has been talking about the cloud for four years and stepped up the rhetotic in the last 18 months so this isn't something new but you can detect that the message has shifted up a gear.
After all you don't chuck the phrase "an inflextion point in the industry" without thinking about it first and many beyond the Microsoft world will be looking into what Ballmer had to say.
For those beyond the Microsoft channel the message seems pretty clear. When a vendor of that size decides that the time is right for a technology it has the ability to shape and form opinions across a very wide user base. The ripples from the noises being made at WPC will ripple across the market and should benefit all resellers trying to pitch a hosted service.
Microsoft will not own the cloud, it faces some tough competition from the likes of Google in that race, but it can have a real impact on the debate and that process has certianly started.
This was first published in July 2010