Windows Azure Key Tool in Microsoft Battle to Enlist Cloud Developers

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-12-23 Print this article Print

Aside from AWS, other platforms might offer a more open approach than Microsoft's, such as IBM with its foundation on OpenStack. However, Microsoft, led by Guthrie, has been pushing Azure to support more open, standard technology. When Microsoft hinted that it would support Linux workloads on Windows Azure, many in the industry scoffed. But the company made good on that bet and delivered support for Linux workloads on Azure last year.

After providing the Linux support, Microsoft went on an innovation tear with Windows Azure in 2013, adding a host of functionality to enhance the platform's viability in the enterprise. When asked what was next in the Microsoft Windows Azure playbook, Guthrie simply said his team was executing a "run and gun offense," which when pulled off effectively, leads to high scoring games and keeps competitors on their heels. That is indeed what Microsoft has been doing with Windows Azure, as every three weeks there is a new major release of the platform, he said.

Guthrie had difficulty trying to list just some of the highlights in Microsoft's efforts around Windows Azure this year. He kept having to add a few more things.

"In terms of highlights for this year, there have been a lot," Guthrie said. "Our infrastructure-as-a-service offering going GA [general availability] is a big one, all the networking capabilities that we've shipped, including the announcements around private fiber and direct connect support, including support for MPLS [Multiprotocol Label Switching] and Equinix and AT&T are big. We've announced six new regions, including China, Japan and Australia—two in each of those. And entering China for us is a major initiative. We're the first cloud provider to do it.

"We also announced our federal government regions—another two there. We've shipped Websites, we've shipped mobile services, we introduced AutoScale, we introduced monitoring support, BizTalk Services, the MSDN dev test offer. We've done Active Directory, we also added the SaaS management capabilities to it. And we introduced our new distributed cache service. We shipped our Hadoop offer," Guthrie continued.

Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider Engine Yard forged an alliance with Microsoft earlier this year to give its customers choice. Steeped in the open-source world with a foundation based on open-source technology, Engine Yard initially was leery of Microsoft.

According to Bill Platt, formerly senior vice president of operations at Engine Yard, when the company partnered with Microsoft, both internal company developers and developers at Engine Yard customers said they were unsure about Microsoft's plans to support open-source technology when the company began talking about it two years ago.

However, none doubted Microsoft's commitment to developers, Platt said.

"Developers do believe and have always believed that Microsoft cares about developers because they've been awesome about MSDN and all the interfaces being there for developers, and having a bunch of documentation available " Platt told eWEEK at Microsoft's Build conference in June, where Engine Yard enhanced its multi-cloud vision with support for Windows Azure. "So a lot of the developers we talk to, like those in PHP land, said it would be wonderful if that were the case, but I don't feel like that is the case yet."



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