Friday, July 20, 2012

Microsoft takes on

Microsoft has now two tricks in the Cloud, PaaS and IaaS. Not satisfied with just being a PaaS vendor Microsoft began to sell IaaS as well. Two years after breaking into the clouds with Windows Azure Microsoft wants now to challenge the IaaS leader, has matured and Microsoft is a relatively new comer, but Microsoft has deep pockets and a solid record in PaaS and it will be an interesting development to watch.

How did this Microsoft getting into IaaS happen?  Microsoft broadened its cloud repertoire with persistent virtual machines; virtual networking and support for Linux instances. In days to come we will hear more about it. Read the breaking news on (July 2012, Page 2).

In my book on SQL Azure (December 2010, I had noted the following information (excerpt from Chapter 1) I had gathered for and Microsoft:

Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services through its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) offered customers dynamically scaled computer infrastructure for running their application programs, thus offering infrastructure as a service. The term elastic came about by the ease with which the user can create, launch and terminate the active virtual server instances used in running the programs. To be elastic there was built-in redundancy in the resources and automated scaling which tracked the load. Also, to cater to wide scale adoption, there were a number of sizes the users could choose; from small instances to High-CPU extra-large instances. The applications could run on a computing platform the customer can choose from, which can be accessed by a web service (one of many Amazon Web Services). Although EC2 supported Linux operating system in the beginning, it rapidly added other platforms such as Open Solaris and Solaris Express Community Edition and even Windows. By adding Windows OS (2003 and 2008 Servers) it provided full support for all Microsoft applications (ASP.NET, AJAX, Silverlight, etc.) to be hosted on EC2 with data originating in SQL Server Express and SQL Server 2008 server[] instances. EC2 by itself had only temporary storage for data but later added Simple Storage Service (S3) and Elastic Block storage (EBS) for persisting data []. The 'Elasticity' of this cloud computing was further enhanced by Elastic IP, Elastic-load balancing and a reliable monitoring service in the form of Amazon CloudWatch. Most recently Amazon added a relational database as a service ( by adding MySQL to its roster of web service offerings accessible by simple API calls which could work with EC2.

Microsoft entered this area relatively late but directed a lot of its effort to branch out into this important business area very quickly and thus Microsoft Azure was born. Microsoft Azure platform in Microsoft Data Centers spans three continents, North America, Europe and East Asia. Microsoft Azure not only makes available this humongous infrastructure but also provides its signature software products; Windows Servers; SQL Server; and components of  .NET Framework.  It is therefore both infrastructure and software as service. It is in fact heading towards offering its entire framework as service.
Azure platform is resting on three pillars, the Windows Azure Services; the SQL Azure Services and the .Net Services which has been renamed Azure AppFabric recently to include other features. The Azure platform not only caters to cloud based applications but also to applications that run on the premises. It is really not one, that is cloud based, or the other that is ground based, but a mixture of the two that the businesses can customize based on their needs. The Azure platform is structured to be developer friendly, and can be leveraged by desktop, web and mobile devices using many of the programming languages such as PHP, Ruby etc. in addition to Microsoft’s VB, C# and F#. As the software programs that work with the Azure platform are not limited to those that are Microsoft Specific, the adaptability is much more general. As the accessibility uses Open Internet standards, clients can be on any platform.
On a practical footing, the Azure Platform, its hardware and software are physically located in the various Microsoft data centers []. On a general note, the Azure Platform is still in its infancy as evidenced by the fact that it is moving into production in early 2010 and a lot of additions are envisaged as the platform matures and its adoption grows.

Well, much water has flowed under the bridge and Cloud has evolved and come of age but still evolving.

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