During the first keynote of PDC last week, Bob Muglia associated this year’s PDC with the 1992 PDC, which featured the coming out of Windows NT. (I still think of “WNT” as “V++ M++ S++”, given David Cutler‘s leadership on both operating systems.)
I think there is much to draw from this comparison where the future for Windows Azure is concerned.
In 1992, PDC’s coverage of NT followed after at least a two-year effort to develop the new operating system (e.g. the OS first ran–minimally and non-commercially at Microsoft–in 1990). Commercial availability followed PDC a year later (i.e. Windows NT 3.1). However, adoption of NT didn’t take off until 1996, with the release of Windows NT 4.0 (and the availability of hardware and applications necessary to accomplish day-to-day work).
I’m not saying that Azure’s “take-off” won’t be until 2012 (i.e. “Red Dog”‘s 2006 commencement plus six years). Yet, Microsoft’s own comparison of Azure to NT is helpful in combating both near-term tendency to hype and in understanding the long-term potential of the cloud where Microsoft envisions it to be.
Certainly the vision of Windows Azure (aka “Red Dog”) and the Azure Services Platform is substantial. However, in order for Microsoft, its partners and customers to realize it, it must deliver business value.
Internal or external, cloud computing has to address a set of real business problems in order to become a relevant part of one’s development arsenal. Some business models are more closely aligned with the cloud than others. New business models will emerge.
I guess that the technology industry is tired of TLAs like MSP and ASP. In fact, it seems like FLAs like SaaS and PaaS are passé, too. Only five characters will do, and analogy has replaced acronym: cloud.
During the keynotes this morning, Ray Ozzie suggested that cloud (or utility) computing is materially different than past innovations upon which it rests since it is focused on the externalization of IT and the critical requirement to scale-out.
According to Gartner, there are five trends driving companies like Microsoft and Google in their march toward cloud computing as follows:
- Software as a service
- Open-source technologies
- Web 2.0 products, such as collaborative technologies, social networking and wikis
- Consumerization of technology
- Global class, a new way to deliver computing services
So I’m looking for content and discussion concerning cloud computing the addresses the following questions:
- What are the API differences between this OS (Windows Azure) and a traditional Windows OS (e.g. Windows Server 2008)? What features/functions are unique to Azure (and why)?
- What about composition in the cloud?
- What about cross-app-in-the-cloud functionality (e.g. events and other synergies)?
- What are the significant ISV/partner opportunities (e.g. platform level, application level and integrated solutions level) created by the “Azure ecosystem”?
- What new issues arise in the cloud? Regulatory compliance cannot be compromised. Comingling of both live and backed-up data can pose concerns. “Premise matters” (eventually); so virtualization, geography, sovereignty, etc. can pose additional concerns. Etc. How does Azure address such concerns?
In a few minutes, I’ll be taking an initial “lap around” Azure, which should be interesting. Stay tuned…