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Summary:

Microsoft on Tuesday opened up its Azure cloud computing platform, after more than a year of development. Derrick Harris takes an in-depth look at Azure over at GigaOM Pro to see what exactly Microsoft is offering and how it compares with other clouds.

Microsoft on Tuesday said that its Azure cloud computing platform was open for business after more than a year of development. While Redmond may be late to the cloud bonanza, it now has a platform that could become a major force in cloud computing — if it can get developers to trust it. Derrick Harris takes an in-depth look at Azure over at GigaOM Pro (subscription required) to see what exactly Microsoft is offering and how it compares with other clouds.

Derrick is pretty optimistic about Microsoft’s chances to build a developer community for Azure. He said that since Azure offers a platform as a service, a fabric to join public and private clouds, and a robust SQL database, it will meet the needs of many potential customers. From his report:

What sets Windows Azure apart from the competition is that it tries to be everything to everyone, and often times it succeeds. For example, the sheer variety of languages and frameworks it supports is rare among PaaS offerings, most of which target one language or stack (e.g., Ruby on Rails or LAMP) and build the best possible service around it. This means that Azure might be attractive to developers who really like to experiment or businesses that run various types of applications, but that Azure won’t likely be the best at serving any particular language (except for .NET, of course). It remains to be seen whether PaaS customers will buy into Microsoft’s reputation and relative openness with Azure, or whether they will take their business to the best clouds for their particular jobs.

The question of Microsoft’s success may boil down to how much enterprises and customers need to consolidate all of their IT operations in a single cloud or with one vendor. It could also depend on whether those customers want to take advantage of the plethora of application-specific or language-specific platforms for each IT function. If they do, then there’s no need for a general purpose cloud that tries to be all things to all developers because customers will seek to find the best fit for each program they want to run.

  1. I think Aptana (www.aptana.com) is missing from the list. They have some sort of service to deploy web applications but I have not used it. I do use their version of Eclipse editor and am pretty happy with it. From what I can tell they have made it very easy to deploy to the cloud.

    What would be very cool is complete project hosting. The provider could offer Git or SVN hosting. When the application is ready for use it would be so easy on the server side to simply copy the project files over to a public directory.

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  2. Not sure the matrix makes a ton of sense. I use Joyent very heavily, and have “relational database service” with them – dedicated, tuned MySQL servers. In fact, I’m able to keep my costs low by putting multiple clients onto a single MySQL instance.

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  3. I think there is an error on the picture – Amazon does offer a LAMP instance (through Amazon) and a ton of customized instances (Java etc) through customized instances from third parties. Most of these custom instance types are also free.

    Hope this adds to the discussion.

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  4. I think it is important to mention that the drive with Azure is not necessarily to put everything in the Cloud but to utilise a combination of on-premise and cloud based infrastructure. Each customer’s needs will dictate the balance of this combination.

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  5. The table does not include language support or instance for IaaS offerings because they are inherently more flexible that PaaS offerings. As for Joyent, it does not offer a separate database service, but, rather optimized instances. Such instances are available on GoGrid, EC2, etc., but are not a service per se.

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  6. [...] cloud and the data center, and that’s all because of the work coming out of Muglia’s division. Windows Azure is Grade-A cloud platform, and that Microsoft’s cloud services lineup (which includes office, collaboration and email [...]

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