Microsoft Windows Azure: 2010 Cloud Progress Report
Coming into 2010, Microsoft Windows Azure sounded like a sure thing to some of us here at TalkinCloud. In theory, Windows Azure provides Windows Server ISVs with a natural springboard into the cloud. Windows Azure couldn’t fail — and it hasn’t. But Azure has a long way to go before it can gain mind share and market share. Here’s a look at what went right for Microsoft Windows Azure. And a look at where it has room to grow.
Windows Azure’s launch on February 1, 2010, is a platform as a service (PaaS) play. Instead of being locked to Windows development standards, Windows Azure supports a range of options — including .Net, PHP, Ruby, Python and Java. The initial February 2010 launch was a whimper, not a bang, as an extended technology preview literally turned into a paid service overnight. But that preview stage earned Azure a lot of buzz in the independent software developer world. Slowly but surely, Microsoft reached out to its channel partners, urging them take advantage of the opportunities Azure afforded them.
Behind the scenes, TalkinCloud was impressed to learn that David Cutler was playing a key role in Azure’s development and rollout. Cutler is widely considered the original father of Windows NT, and he also gained fame for his earlier work on Digital VMS — one of the most reliable and scalable operating environments of its time.
Fast forward to the summer of 2010, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer got up in front of Microsoft customers, partners, and investors and told them that Microsoft “All In” when it comes to the cloud. But TalkinCloud’s sister site, The VAR Guy, thought that claim was less about Windows Azure and more about the consumer side of things.
But mid-2010 turned to late 2010, Microsoft Windows Azure began to keep a low profile, despite a starring turn at the company’s 2010 PDC conference. TalkinCloud only began to hear about Windows Azure in terms of a few partnerships, minor updates, or, as in the case of the open cloud standard OpenStack, emerging competition.
Software Partner Challenges
Also of note: ISVs have started to tell us that Microsoft is paying a few third-party software companies to port their applications to Windows Azure. Some of the porting deals allegedly involve six-figure (US$100,000 or more) engagements. Generally speaking, it’s never a good sign when a platform provider has to pay ISVs to come and join the party.
Bottom line: While Microsoft Windows Azure seems to be a reliable solution with its fair share of fans, the industry isn’t buzzing about Azure. Maybe it’s time for Microsoft to use some of its oldest business strategies. Remember: Traditional desktop Windows gained strength as Microsoft Office arrived; Windows NT Server gained strength as Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server arrived.
Perhaps it’s time for Microsoft to promote some of its own application victories on Azure in order to convince more ISVs and channel partners to jump on the Windows Azure bandwagon.
Additional reporting by Joe Panettieri. Follow Talkin’ Cloud via RSS, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Talkin’ Cloud’s Weekly Newsletter, Webcasts and Resource Center. Read our editorial disclosures here.