Microsoft joins the cloud party with an offering to compete with that of Amazon.com's EC2, Google's App Engine and others. The broad initiative enables developers to use the skills they possess with Visual Studio to create applications for Windows Azure. The strategy also taps Microsoft's increasing data center capacity.
LOS ANGELES-Microsoft has unveiled its broad cloud strategy, formerly known
internally as "Project Red Dog" and now known as Windows Azure.
At the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference
Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, announced Windows Azure, the
cloud-based service foundation underlying its Azure Services Platform, and
highlighted this platform's role in delivering a software-plus-services
approach to computing.
Indeed, the Azure Services Platform is an industry-leading move by Microsoft
to help developers build the next generation of applications that will span
from the cloud to the enterprise data center and deliver compelling new
experiences across the PC, Web and phone, Ozzie said.
Microsoft said developers can use the familiar Microsoft Visual Studio tools
to build applications for the Windows Azure platform. Indeed, Visual Studio
will have four new cloud templates to support development of Windows Azure
applications, Microsoft said.
Read more about Windows Azure here.
Amitab Srivastava, vice president of the Windows Azure team, said developers
need not deploy their applications to the cloud for testing.
Meanwhile, Ozzie described how the Windows Azure platform combines
cloud-based developer capabilities with storage, computational and networking
infrastructure services, all hosted on servers operating within Microsoft's
global data center network. This provides developers with the ability to deploy
applications in the cloud or on-premises and enables experiences across a broad
range of business and consumer scenarios.
A limited CTP (community technology preview) of the Azure Services Platform
was initially made available to developers in attendance at PDC
2008, giving them a chance to try out its features and functions and plan for
their own future development. Windows Azure availability will be available
first on Microsoft data centers in the United
States and later abroad, Ozzie said.
Although Amazon.com clearly beat Microsoft to the punch in the cloud
computing space, Ozzie acknowledged that Microsoft had been working on its
cloud strategy back when Amazon unveiled its EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud)
offering with Srivastava and others such as Dave Cutler, Microsoft's renowned
operating system developer. Ozzie said Microsoft both tips its hat and stands
on the shoulders of Amazon.
Amazon looks beyond e-commerce. Read more here.
"Today marks a turning point for Microsoft and the development community,"
Ozzie said in a statement. "We have introduced a game-changing set of
technologies that will bring new opportunities to Web developers and business
developers alike. The Azure Services Platform, built from the ground up to be
consistent with Microsoft's commitment to openness and interoperability,
promises to transform the way businesses operate and how consumers access their
information and experience the Web. Most important, it gives our customers the
power of choice to deploy applications in cloud-based Internet services or
through on-premises servers, or to combine them in any way that makes the most
sense for the needs of their business."
Key components of the Azure Services Platform, according to Ozzie, include
Windows Azure for service hosting and management, low-level scalable
storage, computation, and networking;
Microsoft SQL Services for a wide range of database services and
Microsoft .NET Services, which are
service-based implementations of familiar .NET
Framework concepts such as workflow and access control;
Live Services for a consistent way for users to store, share and
synchronize documents, photos, files and information across their PCs, phones,
PC applications and Web sites; and
Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Services for business content, collaboration and rapid solution development in
Microsoft officials said the Azure Services Platform provides
developers with the flexibility and ability to create applications while taking
advantage of their existing skills, tools and technologies such as the
Microsoft .NET Framework and Visual Studio.
Moreover, developers can choose from a broad range of commercial or open-source
development tools and technologies, and access the Azure Services Platform
using a variety of common Internet standards, including HTTP, REST (representational
state transfer), WS-* and Atom Publishing Protocol, the company said.
In addition, over the past year, Microsoft has opened major data centers in Quincy,
Wash., and San Antonio,
with additional centers scheduled to open in Chicago
and Dublin, Ireland.
Ozzie said Microsoft is "betting on Azure ourselves, and we're bringing more
and more of our key services on Azure."