LOS ANGELES-Microsoft executives are spending a lot of time thinking about cloud computing these days, including planning a Windows Server .Net cloud development platform on which people will be able to build and deploy applications, according to CEO Steve Ballmer.
The software maker is also thinking about a product like Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, a Web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud and that is designed to make Web-scale computing easier for developers, Bob Muglia, Microsoft’s senior vice president for server and tools, told eWEEK in a separate interview Feb. 27 at the launch event here for Windows Server 2008.
“We will have a Windows software-plus-services cloud platform for people to build applications on and where they can deploy those applications. Maybe someone will do the same thing for Linux, but it probably won’t be us,” Ballmer told eWEEK in an interview after giving the keynote address at the Heroes Happen Here launch event.
Ballmer said he is not concerned about an open-source threat on this front, as “more applications, more deployment, in fact more of everything that is happening in computing today, is happening on Windows rather than Linux, even if you look workload by workload.”
For his part, Muglia said a product such as Amazon’s EC2 “is something we think about all the time. Obviously one of the things we would bring to such a picture is the breadth of our platform. We probably wouldn’t go about a solution like that the way Amazon does because we have a much broader platform to bring to market. I don’t think that just bringing raw compute resources is anywhere near as interesting as the broad platform, but we do think about it a lot,” he said.
Both Ballmer and Muglia denied any knowledge of an alleged Microsoft project known as UNG that will reportedly write complete GNU-like tools and frameworks that will be compatible with existing GNU software and standards.
Open-Source Model Here to Stay
With regard to the open-source model, Ballmer acknowledged that it is here to stay, as is the commercial model. Microsoft “encouraged, invited and wanted” as much open-source innovation as possible on top of the Windows and .Net platforms.
“We are excited to have it. Look at all the work we have done to really make sure that PHP is well-integrated and runs well on IIS,” he said.
Asked what the new interoperability and openness principles announced Feb. 21 mean for open-source developers, Ballmer said they mean that they no longer need to get patent licenses for commercial or noncommercial works.
“Open-source developers can write software that uses those patents without having to get a license. But their customers who use those products must then get a license, directly from us or through Novell and maybe one day from Red Hat,” he said.
Microsoft knows most open-source developers are not in that business, but open-source distributors are, or at least could be. “We have set up vehicles for people to license those patents, at least in the case of Linux, quite simply, through the work we have done with Novell and SUSE,” Ballmer said.
For his part, Muglia said the interoperability move allows them to build products that interoperate with the large ecosystem around Windows in standards-based ways.
“We are just trying to make it very transparent how we use standards and, if we do provide enhancements to standards, to be able to define what those things are. And, in some cases, there are a set of proprietary protocols that are part of Windows, and we’ve published all of those and developers have access to all of them,” he said.
But Muglia acknowledged that those developers really have to be committed to doing this as it is “deep-level stuff. This is not light bedtime reading,” he said.