Microsoft strikes at Amazon’s cloud infrastructure heartland

16 Apr 2013

Amazon’s status as the enabler of cloud infrastructure for start-ups and organisations striving for flexibility is to be threatened by Microsoft, which has just announced its new Windows Azure Infrastructure Services division.

Microsoft’s Bill Hilf said that Microsoft will commit to matching Amazon Web Services prices for commodity services such as compute, storage and bandwidth.

It will start by reducing its prices for virtual machines and cloud services by 21 to 33pc.

The move to reduce prices is critical because it removes concerns CIOs and app creators might have had in the past about Azure being more expensive than Amazon Web Services.

Microsoft is clearly moving to leverage its investment in data centre infrastructure, including a massive US$640m data centre in Dublin.

The key battle Microsoft will have to fight now will be about perception and being perceived as the go-to provider of elastic and flexible cloud infrastructure on-demand and the proof will be in the tasting.

The power to compute

Microsoft Ireland’s server business group lead Ronan Geraghty explained that one of the key weapons at Microsoft’s disposal will be enabling a hybrid cloud experience for organisations and developers.

“We believe our new Azure Infrastructure Services offering will play a key role in helping and enabling enterprises and organisations to move existing apps to the cloud.

“Azure virtual machines will have the compute power to enable an organisation using Windows Server or Linux OS to have full mobility for their app within a virtual image.

“The other key piece is we can allow you to connect what you have in the cloud to the data centre using a private connection – this is important if you have apps, data and resources you want to retain on your own servers or on-premises, but using some components of your app in the cloud.

“We fundamentally believe that every organisation will knit together their existing IT investment with the cloud, a hybrid model.”

Geraghty believes this could lead to a host of new scenarios such as the ability to create a SharePoint farm using a combination of infrastructure in the data centre and secure data inside the organisation with no capital investment required.

“For app developers they have the ability to create a new test environment in the server farm and when they are happy with it just tear it down and bring the finished app in-house.

“Developers can also create apps that use data on-premises but that take advantage of the huge pool of compute power through the various dat centres around the world,” Geraghty said.

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