Microsoft Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) Stands Out From the Crowd

In a recent interview with Information Week editors Microsoft’s CEO Steve Balmer sent the message that Microsoft is ‘all in’ when it comes to cloud computing. The message Steve Balmer sent regarding Azure in comparison to other cloud providers was interesting, stating that ‘ There is nobody with an offer like ours (Azure) in the market today, not even close. We’re actually trying to help people do what they really need to do for the modern time’.

He compared three other major PaaS vendors, Amazon, Salesforce.com and Google to Microsoft Azure claiming ‘Amazon basically say give us your VMs and you can still muck around at the low level, they are taking todays complexity and putting it into the cloud’. Salesforce.com was dismissed as ‘not being a general purpose programming platform for large scale deployment’ and Google as ‘ kind of its own weird, funny proprietary environment’.

To me the most striking aspect of the interview is Steve Balmers view that the way all applications are developed for the cloud has to be changed to take advantage of the cloud. There is some validity in this view but not for all applications that will run in the cloud. Some applications will be required to scale to millions of users and have the associated large scale storage requirements – but may other applications will not require this level of scalability.

It is my firm belief that the majority of applications that are or will be deployed to the cloud will do so to make use of the cost effective server provisioning, reduced administration costs as well as transparent scalability when required. Amazon, Salesforce.com and Google all provide solutions that meet these requirements.

Microsoft Azure certainly differs from other vendors offerings. It requires a new skill set for developers and architecture for applications making use of the Azure system and libraries. There is an elegance in much of this, but nothing compelling that other vendors do not offer. Of the four major PaaS providers, Microsoft Azure most certainly has the feeling of still being in an embryonic stage and the lack of provision for migrating existing Web application to the platform seems to be a major omission in the Microsoft cloud strategy. It will be interesting to see how this evolves over the coming months.

Chris

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