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October 28, 2008

Windows + Amazon + Azure = A Fascinating 2009

Derrick Harris

I’m going to keep this quick: the cloud computing market has changed drastically in the past week. It will be some time before we know what the effects will be, but Microsoft announcing its cloud computing platform and Amazon taking EC2 out of beta (and adding Windows support and an SLA) definitely are game-changers.

Two of the biggest wishes for EC2 were Windows support and a basic SLA, so conventional wisdom dictates that EC2 uptake should increase fairly substantially. Granted, the SLA isn’t five-nines or anything, but I think the 99.5-percent-or-credits model at least will ease some minds — especially if all we’re talking about is testing. And Windows support is huge; the number of Windows shops out there cannot be overestimated. If enterprises were holding out until the cloud poster child, the one they find most trustworthy — Amazon — could handle their Windows needs, we should find out as this beta offering fleshes itself out and customers start to come out of the woodwork.

Speaking of Windows, maybe you’ve read an article or two about Windows Azure in the past 24 hours. With that in mind, I’ll spare the recap. Truth be told, we don’t really know a whole lot and won’t know a whole lot about the details for a while to come. However, there is no underestimating the epic nature of this move. Not only is Microsoft offering its software as services hosted in its datacenters, it also is making those resources available as straight-up cloud computing. And it isn’t limiting the platform to running Microsoft applications. Microsoft is directly challenging Google both the cloud services and cloud computing front, and should be a direct challenger to every other provider offering similar services — including Amazon Web Services.

If Windows loyalty will bring users to cloud providers like Amazon, just imagine what the cloud adoption curve might look like when Azure gets fully functional. Microsoft has been pretty successful in getting organizations to follow its lead thus far, so if it starts pushing the cloud hard, any pre-Azure predictions could go out the window.

Also, the partner community already is starting to take shape, with Dell (servers), AMD (processors) and Micro Focus (COBOL support) already making announcements.

Long story short: stay tuned. Windows + Amazon + Azure = a fascinating year to come.