Microsofts Cloud Is Ready to Compete
Meanwhile, Khalidi, who was among the initial handful of Microsoft engineers to come up with the concept for Windows Azure, known as the "Red Dog" team, said the first thing the team did was take a look at all of Microsoft's Internet services and realize that despite several similarities and some differences, the one thing all the efforts had in common was that they all existed in their own silo. "So we decided to make a platform aimed at addressing that," Khalidi said. "And we knew that same platform could be aimed at the public cloud as well as the enterprise environment. It is important to look at the workloads, the programming model and automation. And, overall, the two basic benefits to consider when moving to the cloud are reducing cost and agility."
As Microsoft gears up for the production release of Windows Azure in January, it does so with confidence that its late entry into the cloud space will offer viable competition to cloud service providers already in the market.
"So, if you think about the definition of cloud computing-we can take the definition that NIST [the National Institute of Standards and Technology] has given-and what they've done is really layered it into three different layers. So, you have infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and software as a service-and a very similar way that we think of multi-tier applications. At the infrastructure layer, you have your physical ping, power and pipe, and then on top of that you have your operating system layer. "In the cloud, we see as a natural evolution of moving to the cloud that you also need a cloud operating system, so that's what Windows Azure is for Microsoft. So, it is Windows Server 2008 with our hypervisor virtualization technology with some engineering modifications to be able to handle the elasticity that's needed to scale cloud apps up and down."And in another example of Microsoft's interactions with the federal government around cloud computing, Vivek Kundra, federal CIO, joined Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie for the PDC keynote address, pointing to the promise of cloud-based access using Azure to garner future meaning from large, rich data sets. Kundra also announced the NASA Pathfinder contest, co-sponsored by Microsoft, which will encourage the development of tools that promote exploration of and learning from NASA's wealth of Mars images.