Cloud-y Investments Microsoft is making key investments in cloud computing across the board.In fact, sources said Shewchuk is heading up an effort code-named Zurich that will extend Microsoft's .NET application development technologies to the cloud. Microsoft also is working on a project code-named Red Dog that is aimed at delivering what some refer to as a cloud operating system akin to Amazon's EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), according to sources.Shewchuk would not confirm or address either of the code names or any potential projects. He did note, however, that the cloud is "a very important new kind of inflection point that the industry is experiencing," and that it is one that is improving the economics for people to build applications. "You can really think about Oslo and the cloud effort as being two sides of the same coin," said Shewchuk. "Oslo is all about getting that 10X increase in the ability to describe things declaratively. And the cloud is all about making sure that the run-time necessary to go build that is around. So, I've been focused on that run-time portion, and other people have been focused more on that tooling and application description portion of that problem." Wahbe said his group is building both cloud and server assets. One area likely to soon come to light is Microsoft's BizTalk Services. CSD released a CTP of the "R12" release of BizTalk Services in mid-July. In a July 15 blog post (vasters.com/clemensv/default,month,2008-07.aspx), Clemens Vasters said: "-BizTalk Services' is the code name for a platform-in-the-cloud offering from Microsoft. Currently in active development, BizTalk Services provides Messaging, Workflow, and Identity functionality to enable disparate applications to connect quickly and easily." Moreover, Vasters said, "-BizTalk Services' provides the cloud-based platform building blocks to create sophisticated (Internet-) Service Bus solutions with broad reach." BizTalk, plus all these other components, is part of Microsoft's grand software plus services plan. Whereas companies such as Salesforce.com talk about "the end of software," Microsoft contends that users really want a combination of on-premises software and cloud-based services, and that developers want the same: tools on the desktop coupled with an application development platform in the cloud. "One of Microsoft's core tenets is that we're not going to only offer you that cloud value proposition or the premises value proposition," Wahbe said. "We're going to build our software in a way that you can decide whether you're going into our cloud or whether you're going to put it on your own premises and build your own local cloud. That is an extra amount of work that we will do. If you look at competitors right now, they tend to choose one or the other. They always choose the same one, but they tend to make you choose one or the other. Our notion is that [software plus services] is the next big wave." Microsoft is also aiming to make it easier for companies to build their own cloud. "We're also going to build a cloud for you ... that makes it even easier because it's all there configured for you," said Wahbe. "And we're running the servers, and we're making sure the power and pipes stay up, and we're making sure it's geo-scaled if you need it to be geo-scaled-in other words, multiple data centers. That's even easier." That rings true with moves Microsoft is making in the data center world. Asked about the company's data center plans, Shewchuk said: "We're probably one of the biggest acquirers of data center space around the world. I think you've probably seen these statistics. There's Google, there's Microsoft, Amazon to a degree, but really we're making a massive, massive, massive investment in having the computational capabilities, the Internet connectivity capabilities and the geo-presence to be a leader in that business. Now, it's a little bit hard to see what we're doing until we bring more of those pieces together, but I think you'll be excited about the work that we're doing in that space." Shewchuk, who has been through several transitions inside Microsoft, said the one occurring now around distributed computing, modeling and the cloud may be the biggest yet. "Let's put it this way, I've lived through a lot of transitions inside this company," Shewchuk said. "I was there for the Internet one. I was there when we did Visual Studio. This one I would describe as bigger even than the kind of transition that we went through as the Internet hit. Every group has people engaged on it, and I think it's going to have a profound impact on what we do across the board." Have Microsoft's competitors awakened a sleeping giant? Answered Shewchuk: "I know there are a lot of people who think that Microsoft is out there sleeping, but we have not been asleep."