Microsoft looks at new computing world through Azure-tinted glasses

28 Oct 2008

Microsoft has gone for a walk in the clouds – literally – with a new computing vision that will see it tackle the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model and build a new generation of game-changing apps that will span the internet cloud and data centre, driving new services to PCs, the web and the mobile phone.

“Today marks a turning point for Microsoft and the development community,” Microsoft’s chief software architect Ray Ozzie said at the company’s Professional Developers Conference in LA yesterday.

“We have introduced a game-changing set of technologies that will bring new opportunities to web developers and business developers alike. The Azure Services Platform, built from the ground up to be consistent with Microsoft’s commitment to openness and interoperability, promises to transform the way businesses operate and how consumers access their information and experience the web.

“Most importantly, it gives our customers the power of choice to deploy applications in cloud-based internet services or through on-premises servers, or to combine them in any way that makes the most sense for the needs of their business.”

Ozzie described how this platform combines cloud-based developer capabilities with storage, computational and networking infrastructure services, all hosted on servers operating within Microsoft’s global data centre network.

This provides developers with the ability to deploy applications in the cloud or on-premises, and enables experiences across a broad range of business and consumer scenarios.

The Azure Services Platform takes advantages of the skills and technologies of Microsoft’s .NET framework and Visual Studio, as well as internet standards such as HTTP, REST and Atom Publishing Protocol.

Key components of the Azure Services Platform include Windows Azure for services hosting, low-level storage and networking; Microsoft SZL Services for database services and reporting; Microsoft .NET Services for workflow and access control; Live Services for storage and sharing across PCs, phones and websites; and Microsoft’s SharePoint and Dynamics CRM for business content and collaboration in the cloud.

Microsoft has opened a number of major data centres worldwide, including a new one scheduled to open in Dublin, to host services and data in the cloud.

The new data centres make use of shipping containers to house servers and provide Microsoft with 10 times the density and power-saving to support its services strategy.

Microsoft’s data centres will serve email accounts, webpages, instant messaging, photos, software, videos and search information for millions of internet users around the world.

By John Kennedy



John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years