Ray Ozzie, presenting the Keynote at PDC2008, has announced Windows Azure and Windows Azure Services Platform. Windows Azure (codenamed Red Dog inside Microsoft) is a brand new kernel built with cloud architecture in mind. Basically, it is a cloud OS taking care of all the complexities of cloud computing. Instead of building an OS for a single processor, Windows Azure has been built for the cloud. Windows Azure separates the app from the underlying OS and hence offers better performance. With this move, Microsoft has put spanner on Amazon’s Windows EC2 initiative. Why would anyone use EC2 instances and also manage the scaling process when you can access Windows computing environment just like how we consume electricity or water from the tap.
Microsoft also released Windows Azure Services Platform, a competitor to PaaS offerings like Google App Engine, Bungee Connect, etc.. This platform services is a collection of platforms offered on top of Windows Azure. It includes Live Services, .NET services, SQL services, Sharepoint services and Microsoft Dynamical CRM services. They also offer a SDK, integrated with Visual Studio, to develop apps using ASP.NET and other .NET services. Essentially, they are offering all their existing platform services to run on the cloud by using Windows Azure.
This is a big move on the part of Microsoft and this just made Enterprise 2.0 a quicker reality and, in the process, Microsoft has put spanner on the Amazon’s Windows EC2 offering. Its impact on Google App Engine will not be much because their offerings are more on the open source realm. The way I see this playing out is similar to how Windows platform and open source platforms played out in the previous era. Windows Azure Platform Services may appeal more to enterprise segments and Google App Engine may appeal more to startups.
Update: Here is the link to Microsoft’s official announcement.