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Microsoft’s Azure Strategy Defined

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Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie
Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, speaking at PDC 2008

LOS ANGELES – The introduction of Windows Azure Monday at the Professional Developer’s Conference seems to put Microsoft on a collision course with every app hosting vendor on the market, in particular

Doug Hauger, general manager of the cloud infrastructure services unit at Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), said the problem Microsoft is attempting to solve is one of scale when moving internal applications to the Internet. In an interview with, Hauger elaborated on the benefits and strategy behind the announcement of Azure Monday by Microsoft’s chief software architect, Ray Ozzie.

“There are a lot of problems out there that are not being solved and they are not being solved for one reason: People are taking software built for on-premises and they are dumping it in the cloud. What we have done is to help build software for the cloud,” said Hauger.

“The core theme is that in order to solve that problem for developers, we’ve got to give them the power of choice: in the cloud, on-premises or both,” he added.

As one example, Hauger said a startup can build an application in Visual Studio and deploy to Azure for testing. If it takes off, the system will scale dynamically, he said.

For an enterprise, the same holds true in terms of building and testing. Enterprises developers have the option of leaving their application deployed on Azure for outward-facing customers, or moving it in-house to their own servers for internal use.

In both cases, Microsoft said Azure eliminates the need for deploying a major server infrastructure. This could prove to be especially valuable in today’s cash-strapped scenarios where start-ups may not have the money to build out a new datacenter to host new applications.

A unique solution?

While the basic premise of software as a service (SaaS) companies, like, is that they offload infrastructure costs, Hauger insists Microsoft is offering a more comprehensive solution. “We don’t believe there is anyone in the marketplace today doing what we’re doing, and we think people are just starting to realize we are solving a difficult problem, which is how do you abstract the developer from having to worry about the infrastructure,” said Hauger. Salesforce did not return a request for comment by press time.

The Azure service means eliminating an awful lot of plumbing concerns for the developer. The underlying database, security, authentication, backup and integration are all handled by Microsoft, so the developer doesn’t have to.

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