I am taking a moment off from hating the weather gods and performing karma-cleansing rituals to promote good baseball chakras for the Phillies to chime in on Microsoft’s new announcement of Azure. With Azure, Microsoft officially throws its hat into the Cloud computing ring, or at least some version of whatever the cloud means.
If you look at the stack, it looks a lot like Salesforce.com’s Apex and Force platform concept – a layer of web enabled services for developers to co-opt in order to develop on a closed platform. Same old proprietary thinking. Yawn, right?
Well, yes and no. On the one hand, yes, this is a “walled garden” type approach to cloud development. The developers involved can only utilize Microsoft code and run in Microsoft environments. But, and this is where things matter, Microsoft environments are much more inclusive in definition than – say – a closed-source SaaS CRM product.
By developing on Azure, developers can build applications that run on an OS-level environment, not simply build nice to have extensions to a CRM system. And, to boot, there are a LOT more Microsoft shops out there than Salesforce.com customers, so there is a lot more opportunity for partners to actually make money selling tools and apps built on Azure.
Ideally, we would be seeing more open cloud development tools out there – allowing portability for customers and developers alike. It will take time but we should see more standards-based cloud development platforms out there, and some are already coming to bear (wink, wink).
Finally, it does bear noting that only Microsoft would use as its brand for a cloud product a world like Azure that implies there are no clouds in the sky at all 😉