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Microsoft's cloud strategy

John Gallant, IDG Enterprise, and Eric Knorr, (Computerworld US) | Oct. 11, 2010
In-depth Q&A: Microsoft's Bob Muglia details cloud strategy

The reception, basically, is that, at the moment, I have way more customers that want this than I can fulfill. Way more. But we started with four customers because it's a service we're delivering. We're starting an extension of our existing Windows Azure public service. We're working with those four customers to understand what capabilities they want to take on. When an alert comes in, how do you want to manage that alert? What level of visibility?

How does Microsoft get involved in that? We're hearing different things. Some customers, for example, want a hardware failure to be reported directly to them or directly to their OEM.

Others want us to aggregate those things. Those are options we may wind up providing. That's what we're learning right now as we deploy this. But, as I talk to different service providers, different enterprise customers, we have a fairly long list of customers that would buy one of these things tomorrow if I could deliver it. Next year we'll expand and bring on a few more and then over a period of time we'll make this very broadly available. But, remember, these things are not small. Today, a Windows Azure appliance with the first four customers is about a thousand servers each. This is not a toaster. It will never go down to just a handful of servers. How small is a question we're still working on.

Would you compare it with the sort of Acadia offering -- the Cisco, EMC, VMware kind of 'data center in a box'?

If you look at what VMware, for example, is providing, they aren't providing this massive scale PaaS service like Windows Azure. Windows Azure is actually pretty unique in terms of being a general purpose platform as a service.

Would you compare it with CloudBurst and what IBM has done with the Java platform?

No. Goodness no. What IBM is doing with CloudBurst is that their services teams are building specific installations. It's not at all like the engineering teams are building a single consistent platform that's being offered within their own environment. IBM is doing nothing at all like this. I mean IBM is more taking their existing technology and repackaging it in a form that they deliver as a services offering that's a cloud. They're bundling with it the services people. To me that's the opposite of what cloud is about. Cloud is about taking operational cost out, not adding it in.

Windows Azure is really the only ground-up cloud operating system that the industry has really seen. The only providers in the market that are really platform-as-a-service providers are Google and Salesforce.com. Both of those are very narrow in terms of what they're offering -- single language or a limited set of languages, limited set of services focused on a given set of applications. Windows Azure is very broad in that it supports a wide variety of languages: Java, .NET, PHP, Ruby. It's really meant for a broad set of applications and is a broad set of services.

 

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