At last year’s PDC, I posted
It is the openness of this platform, the ability of developers to mix and match the different components, and to do it between the cloud and in-premises solutions that makes this such a winner.
This last point is an important one. Microsoft is in a unique position to help enterprise IT bridge to the cloud. While I don’t think Amazon and Google will cede that market to Microsoft, their current offerings aren’t a natural fit.
The offering was rich then, but since then Microsoft has continued to push these offerings forward dramatically.
At the time, my biggest concerns were the one-size-fits-all approach to their provisioning model and their lack of full trust (two things that could make it harder to deploy the Digipede Network onto Azure). Today those issues have been taken off the table and help support many more use cases, opening up Azure even more to non-Microsoft technologies and fortifying the extremely important IT bridge.
So what are the improvements in openness?
Allowing full trust opens up the door to, well anything. Unmanaged code, PHP, MySQL, Java, TomCat, etc. can all run on Azure. Matt Mullenweg of Automattic demonstrated a WordPress instance running that way. Kind of anti-climactic, because it would have been a big deal if wordpress.com was moving to Azure. Simply running a WordPress instance isn’t really that interesting.
Custom VM images are also coming to Azure which will make it much easier to put whatever you want on a VM and deploy it efficiently.
Too many items here to enumerate. SQL Azure integrating into SSMS; Azure integrating into MOM; SQL synchronizing with cloud instances; (this list really does go on and on . . .).
Another important part of this IT bridge? Not Microsoft’s new App Server, AppFabric. Though I am excited about this – it is something that has been missing from the Microsoft stack – the key point here is that it runs on premises and in Azure.
These new features in Azure push Microsoft out even further than the other cloud vendors. No one else has the depth and breadth in tool support and service offerings. No one else is innovating so quickly on so many parallel fronts.
Will Amazon and Google cede the space? Of course not, but I think they’ll need to reposition their cloud brands.