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Reaching for the Cloud?

When it comes to Microsoft's Azure cloud services, it seems developers are either quite immersed in the technical underpinnings of Redmond's next-generation platform or they're ambivalent about it.

Microsoft this week showcased some of its customers' various mindsets on cloud computing at its Enterprise Developer and Solutions Conference in New York. The customers -- which include The New York Times, Merrill Lynch, Raytheon and Netsoft USA -- joined Doug Hauger, general manager of Microsoft's cloud infrastructure services, onstage Tuesday during the event's keynote address. Naturally, given the host was Microsoft, they were enthusiastic about the prospects for cloud computing and Azure. But they were tempered in their assessments by concerns over security, privacy, availability, reliability, compliance and other relevant issues.

Take John Slaby, chief engineer of defense contractor Raytheon, who pointed out that there's a movement in the Department of Defense to develop a global information grid. While cloud computing at some point will be a key solution, security is still an issue.

"You've got to get to the point where the cloud can be secured so it can handle highly classified kinds of events, but I think it is the direction that they are moving," Slaby said.

Others had similar assessments. "You do have to think about those things as you move to the cloud," Hauger said.

Despite those concerns about cloud computing, one key component of the cloud, Software as a Service, is poised to grow 22 percent this year, Gartner said in a report released today. Revenues for applications running on such services will total $9.6 billion, and will top $16 billion by 2013, Gartner said.

"Software as a Service has become a more acceptable deployment alternative in general," said Gartner analyst Sharon Mertz. "It's more often being considered as another sourcing strategy for many companies."

For Microsoft, things with Azure will heat up in the coming months. Hauger said Microsoft is on track to announce pricing at its Worldwide Partner Conference in July and roll out the service at its Professional Developers Conference in November.

Microsoft is taking every opportunity it can to get developers to download the Azure SDK to start building applications.

For those who have tested the Azure SDK, have you done so on your own time, or is your company encouraging you to put it through the rigors for potential deployment? Express yourself below or at jschwartz@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/07/2009 at 1:15 PM


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