Microsoft chief software architect takes on Google
Ray Ozzie's ambitious plan to revitalise Microsoft's software, beef up its services, and kick seven bells out of Google.
Microsoft's datacenters are your datacenters
Microsoft's plans for its datacenters don't end with simple outsourcing, either.
The last piece in Ozzie's puzzle, and by some accounts the most critical, is Windows Azure, the company's new "cloud services operating system".
The product of collaboration between Microsoft's MSN and Windows platform teams, Azure is a set of services and APIs that allow customers to develop and deploy scalable internet services on Microsoft's own infrastructure, similar to competing cloud platforms from rivals such as Amazon and Google.
Unlike its competitors, however, Azure furthers Microsoft's message that cloud services work better when used in tandem with client-based software.
For example, one application that Microsoft has built atop the Azure APIs is Live Mesh, a service that synchronises files between the cloud and multiple client computers.
From a developer's perspective, the relationship between the cloud and the client runs even deeper.
Azure is based on Microsoft's .Net platform, and developers can write cloud applications in either ASP.Net or any .Net language.
A Full Trust mode even allows applications to call DLLs containing unmanaged code. Further, Azure's close relationship with the Windows programming environment means developers can use familiar client-side tools to develop cloud services, including Microsoft's flagship Visual Studio IDE.
(With Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft's flagship IDE also gains new features for developing SharePoint 2010 applications, making it something of a one-stop shop for developing server-side applications.)
But beyond offering a Windows-centric counterpunch to Google's cloud strategy, Microsoft has a business incentive for opening its datacenters with Azure.
Although Microsoft has invested heavily in its web application infrastructure, so far its own online services have operated at a loss.
By offering the use of its infrastructure to outside developers, Microsoft can better offset the cost of scaling its datacenters to compete with Google's while it waits for Bing and other services to gain traction.
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