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Years ago, while at Microsoft, we talked, blogged, preached about Software plus Services (S+S). In fact, Microsoft has been talking about the cloud in the context of S+S for years. Microsoft vision has always been that the cloud can make software better in a complimentary architectural way. As apposed to Google’s vision of cloud which is all about the web and the browser. In fact, Apple’s vision of cloud is in total alignment with Microsoft’s with iCloud! Its S+S – but although Microsoft is right on with the S+S strategy, they have struggled to really demonstrate this strategy and its valuable implications. I totally agree with Pascal’s post on SAI – Apple’s iCloud is annoying to Google, and humiliating for Microsoft. Microsoft had it right for years and they are still struggling with implementation. Whether its phone + cloud, software + cloud, or just cloud.
Cloud is different for consumer experiences versus the enterprise. A platform company that has the right strategy, needs to implement that strategy differently for the consumer market, versus the enterprise market!
OK…I guess my head is not totally out of the clouds!
How did I get here? What led me to walk away from the hot team at Microsoft – Windows Azure, and even more interesting, leave Microsoft after 9+ years.
First, its important to note that most of the 9 years I spent at Microsoft were incredibly rewarding. I worked with some really smart and good people. And Microsoft is indeed a great company to work for.
So why leave? Well, first I need to get something off my chest – let me start with Innovation and R&D. Every year for the last 9 years, Microsoft executives remind all the employees, customers, partners, the world that they spend between $6 – 8 billion in R&D annually! Really? Now, I am not implying that there is a lack of innovation going on in the mildew forest (redmond); there are some really cool things like XBOX Live, Surface, .Net, Windows Azure, Live Mesh. But lets face it, Windows XP to Vista to Windows 7 (a Vista SP) over 9 years was not very innovative – especially now that I am using OS X! Windows Mobile Phone strategy? Search? Over $60 billion in R&D over 9 years – I can probably come up with a list 10 startups that had less then $300 million in funding in total that are more relevant today and innovative. …OK. I feel better now.
I mentioned being on the hot Windows Azure team, as well as listing it as innovative, and I still think there is some really cool technology there. Some of the best innovation in the last 9 years at Microsoft. Public PaaS Cloud is certainly innovative, interesting and very relevant to future deployment scenarios (not all, but some). But I started to question the overall “cloud” strategy and approach. I really think Azure technology should have first been introduced as a private cloud (on – premise) platform, enabling enterprises to build on their virtualization footing, and start with customized private PaaS. Then compliment that with a Public PaaS strategy that included ISPs and Partners and enable hybrid cloud scenarios. Instead, its sort of a huge leap for most enterprises to think about what workloads to build onto this primarily new and proprietary platform running in Microsoft Data Centers, and have a completely different perspective and approach to cloud patterns on-premise. Sorry, its not Hyper-V and Windows Server.
Then there is Ray Ozzie’s departure (not to mention all the other executives leaving to this day). Ozzie was the new Bill Gates at Microsoft. The “architect” of the new Microsoft and leading the transformation and vision for the cloud – the driving force and vision behind Azure. All of a sudden, while on the Azure team and coming to, Ozzie resigns! And then Ozzie writes his “Dawn of a New Day” . As I wrote in my blog post regarding the memo – Its a very interesting read and as one of my colleagues tweeted; “Shut the door, turn off your phone and read Ray Ozzie’s Dawn of a New Day” .
Anyway – my Azure bubble was popped. I was no longer a believer, nor passionate about the direction. There were other things that I wont go into, and there were also things that made me want to stick around – mostly some good people. I will absolutely treasure some of the work and people I was fortunate to work with – some of who are still at Microsoft. Keep up the good work!!!
I have found a renewed love for something from Microsoft that runs on the Mac – MacOffice 2011. Now, we just need OneNote on the Mac.
I am finding an incredibly rich, innovative, and very relevant approach and strategy at my new gig! With some incredibly compelling dialogue with enterprises regarding cloud. More on that on that later….
I wrote about the Business Value of Cloud Computing back in June, 2009. I highlighted in that post, why enterprises were interested in cloud computing from a business value perspective and discuss why this style of computing has been, and will continue to be huge platform shift. As I discussed then, the transformation to cloud computing will come with significant improvements in efficiency, agility and innovation.
Recently, the Corporate Strategy Group at Microsoft did an extensive analysis of the economics associated with cloud computing, leveraging Microsoft’s experience with cloud services like Windows Azure, Office 365, Windows Live, and Bing. The outcome resulted in a blog post and a whitepaper, “The Economics of the Cloud.”
In the paper, it highlights how the economics impact public clouds and private clouds to different degrees and describe how to weigh the trade-off that this creates. Private clouds address many of the concerns IT leaders have about cloud computing, and so they may be perfectly suited for certain situations. But because of their limited ability to take advantage of demand-side economies of scale and multi-tenancy, the paper concludes that private clouds may someday carry a cost that is as much more costly then that of public clouds.
PDC 2010 (Microsoft Professional Developer Conference) was held in Redmond a couple of weeks ago and it marked a significant milestone for Windows Azure – One Year Anniversary since its production announcement at PDC 2009.
In review, the Windows Azure platform, composed of Windows Azure and SQL Azure, and Windows Azure AppFabric is supported by a rich set of development tools, management and services from Microsoft Corp. You can learn more here. It is a Platform as a service (PaaS) and is where Microsoft thinks developers and businesses will ultimately gain the true value of the cloud.
The conference included some announcements highlighting significant updates to the Windows Azure Platform. Here is a summary of those announcements with links to resources to learn more. Warning – long list / post!
Windows Azure Virtual Machine Role eases the migration of existing Windows Server applications to Windows Azure by eliminating the need to make costly application changes and enables customers to quickly access their existing business data from the cloud. Microsoft announced Virtual Machine Role support for Windows Server 2008 R2 in Windows Azure. A public beta will be available by the end of 2010.
Server Application Virtualization enables customers to deploy virtualized application images onto the Windows Azure worker role (single role, single instance) rather than the VM Role. Through this approach, customers can more easily migrate their traditional applications to Windows Azure without the need to rewrite them or to package them within a VM. Once the application is deployed with server application virtualization on Windows Azure, customers can benefit from the automated service management capabilities of Windows Azure including automatic configuration and ongoing operating system management. Server Application Virtualization for Windows Azure will be available as a community technology preview (CTP) before the end of 2010, and the final release will be available to customers in the second half of 2011
Constructing VM role images in the cloud. Microsoft is enabling developers and IT professionals to build VM images for VM role directly in the cloud. This will be offered as an alternative to the current approach of building images on-premises and uploading them over the Internet. This update will be available in 2011.
Support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 in the VM Role. Microsoft supports Windows Server 2008 R2 in the Guest OS. In 2011, Microsoft will add support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 SP2.
SQL Azure Reporting allows developers to embed reports into their Windows Azure applications, including rich data visualization and export to popular formats, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and PDF, enabling the users of these applications to gain greater insight and act on their line-of-business data stored in SQL Azure databases. A CTP will be available to customers by the end of 2010. The final release of SQL Azure Reporting will be generally available in the first half of 2011.
SQL Azure Data Sync is another important building block service to help developers rapidly build cloud applications on the Windows Azure platform using Microsoft’s cloud database. It allows developers to build apps with geo-replicated SQL Azure data and synchronize on-premises with cloud and mobile applications. A CTP will be available by the end of 2010. A final release of SQL Azure Data Sync is set to be released in the first half of 2011.
Database Manager for SQL Azure is a new lightweight, Web-based database management and querying capability for SQL Azure. This capability was formerly referred to as “Project Houston,” and allows customers to have a streamlined experience within the Web browser without having to download any tools. Database Manager for SQL Azure will be generally available by the end of 2010.
Windows Azure AppFabric helps developers rapidly build cloud applications on the Windows Azure platform.
- AppFabric Caching, which helps developers accelerate the performance of their applications.
- AppFabric Service Bus enhancements will help developers build reliable, enterprise quality delivery of data or messages, to and from applications to third parties or mobile devices.
CTPs were available at PDC, and both of these important building-block technologies will be generally available the first half of 2011.
Windows Azure Marketplace is a single online marketplace for developers and IT professionals to share, find, buy and sell building block components, training, services, and finished services or applications needed to build complete and compelling Windows Azure platform applications.
DataMarket is best thought of as a market within the Windows Azure Marketplace. It provides developers and information workers with access to premium third-party data, Web services, and self-service business intelligence and analytics, which they can use to build rich applications. Today there are more than 35 data providers offering data on DataMarket, with over 100 more coming soon.
At PDC 2010, DataMarket (formerly code-named “Dallas”) was released to Web, and a Windows Azure Marketplace beta will be released by the end of the year.
TFS on Windows Azure. Microsoft demoed Team Foundation Server on Windows Azure, which shows that steps have been made toward cloud-hosted Application Lifecycle Management. A CTP will be available in 2011.
Windows Azure AppFabric
- Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control enhancements help customers build federated authorization into applications and services without the complicated programming that is normally required to secure applications beyond organizational boundaries. With support for a simple declarative model of rules and claims, Access Control rules can easily and flexibly be configured to cover a variety of security needs and different identity-management infrastructures. These enhancements are currently available to customers.
- Windows Azure AppFabric Connect allows customers to bridge existing line-of-business (LOB) integration investments over to Windows Azure using the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus, and connecting to on-premises composite applications running on Windows Server AppFabric. This new set of simplified tooling extends Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010 to help accelerate hybrid on- and off-premises composite application scenarios, which are critical for customers starting to develop hybrid applications. This service is freely available today.
Windows Azure Virtual Network. New functionality is being introduced under the Windows Azure Virtual Network name. Windows Azure Connect (previously known as “Project Sydney”) enables a simple and easy-to-manage mechanism to set up IP-based network connectivity between on-premises and Windows Azure resources. The first Windows Azure Virtual Network feature is called Windows Azure Connect. A CTP of Windows Azure Connect will be available by the end of 2010, and it will be generally available in the first half of 2011.
Extra Small Windows Azure Instance. Also announced was the Extra Small Instance, which will be priced at $0.05 per compute hour in order to make the process of development, testing and trial easier for developers. This will make it affordable for developers interested in running smaller applications on the platform. A beta of this role will be available before the end of 2010.
Remote Desktop enables IT professionals to connect to a running instance of their application or service to monitor activity and troubleshoot common problems. Remote Desktop will be generally available later this year.
Elevated Privileges. The VM role and Elevated Privileges functionality removes roadblocks that today prevent developers from having full control over their application environment. For small changes such as configuring Internet Information Service (IIS) or installing a Microsoft Software Installer (MSI), Microsoft recommends using the Elevated Privileges admin access feature. This approach is best suited for small changes and enables the developer to retain automated service management at the Guest OS and the application level. Elevated Privileges will be generally available to customers later this year.
Full IIS Support enables development of more complete applications using Windows Azure. The Web role will soon provide full IIS functionality, which enables multiple IIS sites per Web role and the ability to install IIS modules. The full IIS functionality enables developers to get more value out of a Windows Azure instance. Full IIS Support will be generally available to customers later this year.
Windows Server 2008 R2 Roles. Windows Azure will now support Windows Server 2008 R2 in its Web, worker and VM roles. This new support will enable customers to take advantage of the full range of Windows Server 2008 R2 features such as IIS 7.5, AppLocker, and enhanced command-line and automated management using PowerShell Version 2.0. This update will be generally available later this year.
Multiple Admins. Windows Azure will soon support multiple Windows Live IDs to have administrator privileges on the same Windows Azure account. The objective is to make it easy for a team to work on the same Windows Azure account while using their individual Windows Live IDs. The Multiple Admins update will be generally available later this year.
Dynamic Content Caching. With this new functionality, the Windows Azure CDN can be configured to cache content returned from a Windows Azure application. Dynamic Content Caching will be available to customers in 2011.
CDN SSL Delivery. Users of the Windows Azure CDN will now have the capability to deliver content via encrypted channels with SSL/TLS. This update will be available in 2011.
Improved global connectivity. Microsoft will add new Windows Azure CDN nodes in the Middle East and improve existing connectivity in the U.S. and Brazil in 2011.
Improved Java Enablement. Microsoft plans to make Java a first-class citizen on Windows Azure. This process will involve improving Java performance, Eclipse tooling and client libraries for Windows Azure. Customers can choose the Java environment of their choice and run it on Windows Azure. Improved Java Enablement will be available to customers in 2011.
Windows Azure AppFabric Composition Model and Composite App Service provides an end-to-end “composite” application development environment to help developers streamline the process of assembling, managing and deploying various home-grown and third-party services that span the Web, middle tier and database in the cloud. A CTP will be available in the first half of 2011.
Microsoft also announced the following developer and operator enhancements at PDC 2010:
- A completely redesigned Microsoft Silverlight-based Windows Azure portal to ensure an improved and intuitive user experience
- Access to new diagnostic information including the ability to click on a role to see type and deployment time
- A new sign-up process that dramatically reduces the number of steps needed to sign up for Windows Azure
- New scenario-based Windows Azure Platform forums to help answer questions and share knowledge more efficiently
These Windows Azure enhancements will be generally available by the end of 2010.
Finally, a great offer for partners:
“Windows Azure Platform Cloud Essentials for Partners” is an offer that replaces Microsoft’s existing partner offers. This offer will go live on Jan. 7, 2011, and provide free access to the Windows Azure platform, including 750 Extra Small Instance hours and a SQL Azure database per month at no additional charge. Partners can sign up for the Cloud Essentials Pack at Microsoft Cloud Partner.
Are PC’s, and Windows going to be less significant in the next 5 years? Its certainly a scenario that I am sure many at Microsoft (and the industry) are arguably challenged with. More so today, then ever!
Yes, cloud computing is definitely becoming a disruptive force (in a positive way, I might add) in how we deliver and consume services today, as Ray Ozzie wrote about in his memo, The Internet Services Disruption, 5 years ago. But, I think the message, warning, and context Ray raises in his new memo today, Dawn of a New Day, 5 years later, is more relevant and I am sure has folks in Redmond and the industry talking about it.
I do not disagree, as I look into the future, I have to admit it looks less like just PC’s connecting to the cloud and services, but more about “connected devices” and “continuous services” that play out in our lives thru mobile phones, gaming consoles, TVs, iPads/Slates, cars, and other everyday devices that connect to the cloud.
Its a very interesting read and as one of my colleagues tweeted today; “Shut the door, turn off your phone and read Ray Ozzie’s Dawn of a New Day” .
Microsoft Patterns & Practices provides Microsoft’s applied engineering guidance and includes both production quality source code and documentation. Its a great resource that has mounds of great architectural guidance around Microsoft platforms.
Back in June, Patterns & Practices release a new book on Windows Azure, titled “Moving Applications to the Cloud”. I recently came across this and found it to be a great resource for my customers and architects that are looking at moving existing workloads in their enterprise to Windows Azure. Download it (its free) and check it out.
One of my brilliant colleagues, and friend David Chou (Architect Evangelist) at Microsoft just posted slide deck on SlideShare.net from his talk at JavaOne. David is a former Java Architect and has been at Microsoft for several years talking about our platform and now specifically our Windows Azure Platform.
I have embedded his presentation here and you can also click here to take you to SlideShare, where you can find more of David’s presentations.
Many enterprise architects are looking at cloud, and Windows Azure, and contemplating what type of application workloads fit for that deployment model. There are many scenarios that really reveal compelling value in deploying to the cloud. One of my colleagues, David Aiken, Technical Evangelist / Specialist on our Global Windows Azure team, does a great job highlighting application workloads and patterns that fit well in this model. In this episode of ARCast.tv on Channel 9, David talks to Bob Familiar about the architecture patterns that lend themselves to building scalable services for the cloud. You can view the video here.
Today, the term “cloud” is thrown around a lot in the IT industry. Some are calling it the new “dot com” topic. Well, I am not sure it comes with the bubble connotations that we saw in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, but I do think the cloud presents real value and significant change to business and consumers. Change that relates to how enterprise’s are thinking about enterprise architecture, change with regard to IT service delivery models, and change to business models (operational expenses for what IT services you use, rather than capital expenditures for what you might use), etc.
Recently, one of my esteemed collogues, John Alioto, Architect Evangelist at Microsoft, wrote some great blog posts on “Categorizing the Cloud” Part 1 & Part 2. Part 1 is focused on categorizations of the cloud, from an architectural perspective, and lands on three dimensions against which we could categorize a Cloud offering. Those dimensions are Service Model, Deployment Model and Isolation Model. Part 2 is more focused on taking those dimensions and then categorizing the cloud from a business model perspective. What cloud models apply for various business models. I like the taxonomy that John uses, by first starting with some simplistic, but relevant themes to call out. Themes that have been around for IT for some time. Then, breaking it down into categories of cloud (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS).
Two great posts. Nice job John.
As enterprises evaluate building and deploying applications to the cloud, security is always part of the conversation and assessment. Windows Azure, as a cloud application hosting platform, must provide confidentiality, integrity, and availability of customer data, while also enabling transparent accountability. To help customers better understand the array of security controls implemented within Windows Azure from both the customer’s and Microsoft operations’ perspectives, a new white paper has been published – “Windows Azure Security Overview”. You can also learn more about the paper and download it at the Windows Azure Team Blog.