The inside view of Microsoft's cloud strategy

The inside view of Microsoft's cloud strategy

The project lead explains why the hypervisor is not Hyper-V, how multitenant apps are supported, and why Azure is not like Amazon's EC2

It seems with all the stuff that you've added here to the Azure platform, it's really potentially a richer development environment than your average Microsoft customer would set up on premise.

You should not think of it as a monolithic platform. Even the second-layer things are all a  la carte. You can call OpenID and not use Live ID if you don't want to. Because we [have these] interfaces, you can call in our service model, services can interact through interfaces there. So it's not monolithic. Now, because a lot of these services are available, yes, it's a very comprehensive platform. [But] you can pick and choose and you can even use third-party stuff whenever you want to. It's very open. And you can even come back and say, "I won't use anything else except Windows Azure and everything else I'm going to get from the outside" and that's fine, too.

So what happens next? I understand there's going to be some road map laid out next year for Azure.

We are opening up with managed code today. We're going to open up native code after that. We'll definitely have that. Right now we are in one datacenter location. We will give the option for people to keep their data in multiple locations, slowly do it in the US and then go international. [We] will have more than one data location in the calendar year 2009. Clearly we will be adding more features to each of the subsystem that we have got, like tables and storage systems and things like that. And we're going to have more service models.

It seems to me that having covered the early Web services, protocol development, and all of that, we went from a bunch of standards and the idea that we would build applications across the Internet, and that was way, way ahead of its time, and it never really happened. Then it sort of evolved more into SOA inside the firewall. In a way, this seems like we're going back to the original model of Web services, the idea of applications across the Internet. Is it time now?

One of the things that we did when we were building Windows Azure was we spent almost six months just looking at what did the world need. Inside Microsoft, we have over 160 or so services ourselves. There is no platform, so every service is written as a silo. Every service just goes and manages the whole thing by [itself].

Now here what happens is that Windows Azure owns all the datacenter resources, it's one computer. You come in and you say, "Hey, I want 1,000 machines." I give you 1,000. Somebody else comes in and says, "I want 1,000." I give him 1,000. Then he says, "Hey, I don't want 800 of them, take them back." I take them back. Somebody else comes in. I can move the resources back and forth around across the whole thing there, so it cuts costs. Efficiency comes into play. By automating all of those things there, the [operations and expenses] goes down, because I don't need as many humans running around managing those things there. So there's a lot of efficiencies and things like that coming along.

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