Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Windows Azure - Microsoft's cloud platform

Microsoft doesn't seem to have changed it's strategy a little bit even though many have hailed this as a 180 degree turnaround. It is again copying what other startups and market creators have done (cloud computing, internet as a platform etc) and then executing on the plan so well that it is cheap(?), superior and accessible to everyone. At the same time, it also tries to win back the developers and defend its platform. So, what is new?

For those who missed the announcement, Microsoft came out with a comprehensive cloud computing platform for developers and organizations which can be used to host applications developed for the platform. To its credit, the platform is so comprehensive and well integrated that Google's equivalent AppEngine seems like.. well, something that was built on 20% time. (But, note that the Sql Data services seems awfully similar to the Google Bigtable model.) It also seems to have pulled the entire company including Office, SQLServer, Developer division & Windows platform around the idea which is indeed rare.

Some of the technical highlights are the use of a new hypervisor to host the client applications in VMs, evolution of SQLServer to SDS which is schema-less and provide a REST/SOAP/LINQ api, integration with Live & mesh services with a robust synchronization framework. Full SQL support is not expected due to it's inability to scale in distributed environment, but native apps will be supported shortly since hosting is based on VM technology.

The biggest competitor to Microsoft seems to be itself, since it is wooing ISVs but how would you convince someone to build on the platform when it seems to cover almost everything? And perhaps users who are wary of seeing BSOD in their internet boxes, but an impressive shift to cloud computing from a tech perspective.