During the opening keynote address for its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2008 in Los Angeles on Monday morning, Microsoft revealed that its cloud computing platform, which will be called Windows Azure. According to the software giant, Windows Azure will help developers build-next generation applications that span the Internet cloud and datacenter, the PC, the Web, and the smart phone.
"Today marks a turning point for Microsoft and the development community," Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie said. "The Azure Services Platform, built from the ground up to be consistent with Microsoft's commitment to openness and interoperability, promises to transform the way businesses operate and how consumers access their information and experience the Web. Most important, it gives our customers the power of choice to deploy applications in cloud-based Internet services or through on-premises servers, or to combine them in any way that makes the most sense for the needs of their business."
For the forward-leaning nature of cloud computing, Windows Azure sounds an awful lot like any traditional Microsoft platform. In fact, it seems that developers can simply approach Azure like a modern version of Windows Server: It exposes technologies like the .NET Framework ASP .NET, and applications are created in Visual Studio. This is all by design, of course.
Windows Azure is part of a wider Azure Services Platform, which also includes a number of other familiar-sounding components, including SQL Services, .NET Services, Live Services, SharePoint Services, and Dynamics CRM Services. Presumably, companies will be able to mix and match between traditional, on-premises servers and cloud-hosted services going forward.