Microsoft: Enterprises will be able to self-host Windows Azure, someday
'Mini-clouds' of hosted applications to be offered via a future version of Windows Server, says exec
Computerworld - Future versions of Windows Server will enable companies to efficiently manage and provide virtualized applications through the Web just like Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming platform as a service, Windows Azure, a company executive said this week.
"The innovation in Azure and future versions of Windows Server will be shared, and that code base will continue to cross-pollinate," said Steven Martin, senior director for developer platform product management at Microsoft, in an interview. "The corporate data center at some point in time will look like a mini-cloud, partitioned by application workload."
First previewed last fall, Windows Azure is Microsoft's foray into bringing Windows Server online as a cloud computing platform. Developers will be able to port or write applications using Microsoft's popular .Net tools and Web standard interfaces such as REST, SOAP and Atom, and host them on Azure, similar to Amazon.com Inc.'s EC2, Salesforce.com Inc.'s Force.com, or Google Inc.'s App Engine.
Azure is expected to be released later this year. Detailed pricing hasn't been released. Microsoft is expected to talk about Azure at its MIX Web development conference in Las Vegas next week.
Conventional hosting entails companies buying or leasing a server from a data center operator and running a set number of applications off it. That can be complicated to manage, entail a lot of upfront cost, and can be difficult to scale quickly on demand.
Azure, like other newer-generation cloud platforms, enables faster setup and easier scaling, and lets users pay for usage, thus avoiding upfront investment.
"Our goal is to completely hide the complexity of hardware from developers," Martin said.
Martin mentioned several Azure beta testers. One, a company called S3Edge Inc., helps manufacturers recall defective products.
"Ideally, a product doesn't get recalled and they don't need to activate our service," Martin said. "But if it does, they need to be prepared to scale very fast."
An independent software vendor, Epicor Software Corp., is writing the next version of its ERP software so it can be hosted via Azure, Martin said, while another, Micro Focus (IP) Ltd., is taking Cobol applications off a mainframe and hosting them on Azure (as well as Amazon.com Inc.'s EC2) for its customers.
Azure runs on Windows Server 2008 inside Microsoft's data centers. The fact that Microsoft offers both Windows Server software and the Azure service as part of its "software+services" strategy, is a plus for companies unsure about committing completely to a cloud infrastructure, Martin said, whether because they think they can run it cheaper or with more agility, or because regulations require them to do so.
"We make it really easy for you to transition back to on-premises without having to completely rewrite your app. You control your own destiny," Martin said. By contrast, "if I'm a start-up, it's gotta be in the back of my mind when I look at Amazon.com's 10-K, that 'Gosh, they may want to go back to just selling books.'"
Besides corporations, Web hosting companies may be interested in hosting Azure to make their infrastructure more nimble and efficient. Martin said hosting companies and other application service providers won't get access to Azure before enterprises, though.
Read more about Cloud Computing in Computerworld's Cloud Computing Topic Center.
- Accelerating Cloud Deployment and Operations with Managed Services Companies that do not have sufficient in-house expertise to either deploy or maintain an IaaS cloud should turn to Managed Service Providers .
- Rethinking IT Operations in the Cloud This paper breaks down the challenges that often prevent the cloud from delivering the fast, flexible and affordable infrastructure companies seek - and...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting, North America Cloud-enabled managed hosting brings cloudlike consumption and provisioning attributes to the traditional managed hosting market
- Clearing the Network Hurdle to Cloud Deployment Although enthusiasm is high among IT pros for cloud services, an IDG Research Quick Poll survey found that, in fact, the cloud is...
- Why Are Customers Really Deploying an NGFW? It seems every IT Security expert is talking about the NGFW, but what are people really doing? This webcast covers 5 real-world customer...
- ElectricAccelerator: Dramatically Faster Builds and Test ElectricAccelerator dramatically speeds up builds and test by parallelizing jobs across clusters of physical or cloud CPUs. All Cloud Computing White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!