Microsoft continues to be way too vague about its cloud computing strategy

Posted by Staff   |   Wednesday, May 26th, 2010   |  

By now readers should know that Microsoft is planning to extend its Azure cloud computing platform in a way it can rival with Amazon EC2 (public claims and multiple evidences confirmed this).

Today EC2 features an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) architecture, while Azure is based on a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) architecture.
Ironically, while the latter is working to have a IaaS piece, the former may be well looking around to be a PaaS cloud too.

Azure is a highly optimized version of Hyper-V, stripped down of unnecessary components and drivers to reduce the platform footprint / surface attack and improve performance. Or at least this is the official high-level description of the architecture that Microsoft recently offered to

So it doesn’t seem unlikely that Microsoft wants to connect the on-premises Hyper-V virtual data centers with the off-premises Azure fabric computing sites and seamlessly manage everything with a new version of System Center.
The problem is when. At today there’s no trace of IaaS components in Azure and Microsoft has been mum about when customers may expect these pieces to appear.

To further confuse the market about the cloud computing strategy of Microsoft, today comes a new interview with David Greschler, Director of Virtualization Strategy, published on HostingWorld.

It’s completely understandable that Microsoft wants to be extra careful on this specific topic, considering the harsh competition with VMware and the negative trend of overpromising and underdelivering announcements that the company set in the last few years (and not specifically about virtualization).
It’s also understandable that embracing the pay-per-use model is a sort of revolution at Redmond headquarters, and that it takes a lot of time to be planned and executed. Extending this new model to the Microsoft mainstream source of revenue, the operating system, as it becomes available on demand in IaaS clouds, probably implies significant challenges that go beyond mere technical implementation and that executives can’t even mention.

Despite that, the interview says nothing. It doesn’t even address the simple question if Azure is based on Hyper-V or not.

How customers can trust the company as a leader of a new emerging market like cloud computing when the company can’t be clear on its vision and roadmap, mostly when they are already suspicious about the value and security of the technology?

At this point it’s hard to not be skeptical about the previous announcements or the company’s capability to execute in the immediate future. And Microsoft may have a hard time in proving that its strategy is solid and reliable.

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