Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Azure - Microsoft's new baby

I've noticed last week or so we have had a bit of a rise in Hyper-V bashing, so I thought it was time to write a post on where I think this whole thing is going longer term rather than just talking about the today comparatives of the technical nuts and bolts of the underlying Virtualisation tech/

Looking at how Hyper-V has performed within the analyst popularity stakes since its release I don't think market share is still any better for Microsoft, analysts are saying that only really Citrix Xenserver is the competitor with single percentage gains on market share on Vmware and if anything Uncle Larry at Oracle is likely to succeed in gaining more uptake on Oracle VM due to the Sun acquisition finally closing.

My view (if you want it) on Microsoft's strategy for Hyper-V is that they are now shifting concentration to the Azure Cloud platform and not the underlying Datacentre server virtualisation platform. My justification for this is that in all reality to them Cloud is seen as almost a software layer and an extension of services within your datacentre today such as Exchange and SQL. Azure being hosted within Microsoft's datacentre will no doubt rely on Hyper-V but to be honest it is the interface to components that will be where Microsoft concentrate on exploiting, they are not in the game to make money from a Hypervisor this is why it is an inclusive product to Windows 2008.

Microsoft would never be taken seriously running capacity planner exercises and on engagements to work with you to configure optimal infrastructure platforms to gain large consolidation ratios, and I feel neither will Gold Certified MS partners (most are VMware resellers anyway). Instead I feel Microsoft will stick to what they know best and have the developer teams internally being capable to run such a beast within the application arena, this then provides them with the ability to kill two birds with one stone and concentrate on similar strategy to Google whilst gaining foot hold in the Cloud service space.

There is speculative rumour that the domain has been bought and registered for a new online version of Office probably arriving at release time that 2010 Office arrives, also MS has Exchange 2010 on the roadmap for next year which is going to be tailored for Cloud environments so if at least anything else, moving focus in the Hypervisor arms race with Hyper-V and flogging a possible dead horse would have the potential negative impact of losing ground on Mr Page and Brin. Microsoft will no doubt spend less development money on Azure than designing Hypervisor related technology, most of the development I expect will come from development blueprinting done on things such as Live Services, MOSS and Collaboration tools such as MSN messenger. And you don't necessarily need server virtualisation capability to run a cloud, you can provide ASP like services with just a fully optimised application stack, this is something that Microsoft has a better chance at providing with current portfolio offerings such as MOSS and Exchange and future technology on the horizon meaning no need to focus on the underlying platform.

Cloud Computing still has a rather large volume of unanswered questions and it is still very much a bleeding edge stage for the technology, it is clear though that even the likes of VMware are not focusing on the Hypervisor platform as much and are having to diversify and concentrate efforts on the bigger picture of a cloud environment with vCloud and other core components within the whole VDC-OS. So by following this strategy of being mostly a application cloud provider means that Microsoft isn't seen as the conquer all vendor by taking on the Hypervisor market, it means they are classed as a fluffy software provider still but are able to keep on track in competing with the likes of Google. It also means they can resell services through partners and hosting companies and still ensure that software partners such as the likes of Quest will still be able to use the API that they offer to provide niche partner software beneficial to both parties.

I will find it interesting to see if my predictions come true, if anything its worth a stab at guessing as in today's fast pace world of Cloud it can quickly be blown away by the wind in minutes :)


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