Clouds gathering

Clouds Along the Road Photo by Reini68

Charles Cooper has an interesting post about cloud infrastructure and the impact it has on developers and IT professionals.

"So you’ve got a whole generation of start-ups that are basically just a couple of programmers with a couple of laptops, and they upload everything into the Amazon cloud. It’s pay-by-the-drink like utility. So all of a sudden, you have this whole new wave of Internet start-ups getting started for practically no money, right? So there is a level of innovation."

Amazon has done a fantastic job of building the foundation for the next generation of software infrastructure. Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides basic services in the cloud. EC2 for computation on Windows, Linux, and OpenSolaris. Database support including Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL. Application development in .NET, Java, Ruby. The AWS platform includes computation, storage, querying and indexing, queuing, payments, and a basic CDN. More importantly, AWS is the beginning of how the next generation of developers and IT professionals will build and manage applications in the cloud.

Dana Gardner explains why the IBM-Amazon deal is about enabling the best enterprise IT channel. For IBM it’s the perfect combination of services, technology and deployment. For Amazon, it provides an additional way to monetize their investment in infrastructure for their retail business. Brilliant!

Microsoft, Adobe, Google, Mozilla and Apple are fighting for the client. Microsoft, Linux and Java are fighting for the server. Oracle, Microsoft, MySQL and PostgreSQL are fighting for the database. Amazon is not alone, there are competitors including GoGrid, RackSpace, ElasticHosts, Google and others (MediaTemple and Joyent come to mind).

One small step for…

Where is Microsoft in the fray? Microsoft building Azure (my previous post on Azure). Azure is interesting because like Amazon’s AWS to get the most out of the platform, you have to architect applications for the new services provided by cloud providers. Azure unlike EC2 does not have an easy way to upload your existing applications onto cloud/virtualized hardware. The real benefit of the Rackspace/GoGrid/Amazon infrastructures are the ability for developers to very easily move their applications to the cloud offering at a reduced cost without having to re-write, re-architect everything from scratch.

I wonder if this transition state for developers and IT professionals is the real innovation. Being able to adopt the cloud as a lower cost infrastructure alternative is extremely compelling. The opportunity to optimize your application, learn new development tools, application design patterns and underlying architecture that provides an ongoing personal investment in bettering your application and your skills.

Give customers choice

Mark Relph has been talking about Choice and Flexibility (part 2) for customers. Today with the announcement of Windows Azure you can start to see how Microsoft is trying to offer the rich user experience choices and the choice of infrastructure, on premises or in the cloud, for developers, IT Pros and ultimately consumers.


What you get is the opportunity to figure out what is right for you, your developers, your organization, your customers and your applications. The goal is to provide designers and developers a common set of Services that can be mixed an matched. If your a startup, you can decide to keep your application, infrastructure and services in the cloud leveraging the ability to instantly scale your applications and manage your costs. If you are an existing company with a large IT investment, you can leverage your existing corporate infrastructure layering in the pieces that allow you to grow or reduce your costs through the economies of scale offered by the cloud services.

You can start see the applications and tools that Microsoft has been shipping in context. Internet Explorer 8 is a tool for accessing software in the cloud. Silverlight 2 is a way for designers and developers to create compelling rich Internet applications. Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is a powerful environment for desktop software development. As developers you get a shared set of tools (Web Standards, Javascript, JQuery, .NET, XAML, C#, VisualStudio 2008) that can be used to build applications and services.


Developers can begin to build solutions that fit the needs of their audience. It is about being able to build the right solution for your company, your audience, and your market using the appropriate tools and technologies. ProductWiki is building a web service for open product reviews. Me.dium is building a shared social browsing experience. ThoughtFarmer is enterprise collaboration tool that lives behind the firewall. Xobni is mail analytics and improved communications integrated in Outlook.


It’s about choice. The choice of device. The choice of user experience. The choice that fits your business and your customers. It’s about the flexibility of the platform to grow and evolve as you do.