I spent a little time today trying to get to know Microsoft’s Azure Services Platform. Why? Because with a name like Azure it’s hard not to take notice. Kidding. The Azure Services Platform is a competitor to a service we use at Palo Alto Software so I felt like I should at least get up-to-speed with Microsoft’s shot at offering cloud computing services.
The Azure Services Platform includes: Windows Azure, .NET Services, SQL Services, and Live Services.
Windows Azure is at the core of the platform. Microsoft describes it like this:
To build these applications and services, developers can use their existing Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 expertise. In addition, Windows Azure supports popular standards and protocols including SOAP, REST, and XML. Windows Azure is an open platform that will support both Microsoft and non-Microsoft languages and environments.
Clear as mud right?
Frankly, I’m having a hard time getting excited about the Azure Services Platform. Why? Because I’m a big fan of AWS . AWS, Amazon’s cloud computing services, has a better feature set (IMO) and it just passed its’ one year anniversary. Additionally, pricing for AWS is established and a solid SLA is already in place. Nobody knows what the Azure Services Platform is going to cost and there are a lot of other details that still need to be flushed out. The Azure Services Platform is currently only available as a CTP. On top of all of that, Windows Azure is more like the Mosso service than it is Amazon’s EC2. In my experience a heavily abstracted server architecture (Windows Azure) presents a lot of challenges given the tools available to the majority of developers today. We’ve benefited on a number of occasions from the low level access we have to our EC2 instances. You might not need it, but if you do, it’s really nice to have.
I’m glad to see Microsoft entering the cloud computing space because deep pockets are required to compete and I think we’ll all benefit from more competition in this space. It’s just hard to get excited about because it isn’t all that innovative.
Will the Azure Services Platform flame out?