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PDC: Attendees Weigh In on Azure

Microsoft gave developers a lot to chew on at this week's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. The name not withstanding, Microsoft's new cloud-based platform Azure will require developers to consider the implications of cloud computing, regardless how big a priority that is to their respective companies.

I talked with Burak Ozduzen, a software architect with CIM Group, a $4 billion investment management company based in Los Angeles. Ozduzen liked what he saw, but said that given the fact Azure isn't a short-term deliverable, what impact it will have is questionable. "When the cloud will become a reality is unknown," Ozduzen said.

In Ozduzen's view, Amazon has a distinct lead over Microsoft in offering cloud services. The company is now hosting Windows Server 2003 in its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Ozduzen himself uses EC2 for posting personal files, and he's considering using it to run his personal Web site.

As for when his company would move to such a model, he said the transition will be slow and measured. "The security of the information is critical for us," he said. "If you think about people pushing their financial data, it has to prove itself, and it's going to take awhile."

Morten Damgaard, vice president of front-end and Microsoft tools at Danske Bank, told Online Editor Kurt Makie that he sees Azure appealing more to small and mid-sized organizations. "Big companies are going to build their own cloud," Damgaard said.

Yet another developer told Mackie that Azure was the most practical thing he had ever seen at a PDC, though he still isn't sure how he will use it as a programmer.

Robert Wahbe, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Connected Systems division, pointed to the example given by Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, in his keynote address.

"You can take Visual Studio, you take the .NET Framework, you can build an ASP.NET app as one example, and you can decide to deploy that locally or you can decide to deploy that to Windows Azure," Wahbe said in an interview. "The only thing you have to do when you go to Windows Azure is you have to specify some additional metadata. So you have to specify how many instances am I going to run on, what kind of SLA am I looking for -- that kind of metadata. Then Windows Azure can take that and implement that correctly."

But despite Amazon's lead, CIM Group's Ozduzen liked the vision Microsoft articulated. "The back-end has all these compatibility services," he said. "All the APIs and things it offers for developers is exciting. We will be able to put things together easier than before."

What's your take on Azure and the impact it will have on your development efforts going forward? Drop me a line at jschwartz@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 30, 2008 at 8:51 AM