Forecast: Cloudy

Cloud Computing is considered a disruptive technology destined for accelerated adoption over the next few years.  Gartner Executive Programs’ 2010 CIO Survey identified that Cloud Computing is the number 2 technology priority for worldwide CIOs.  IDC estimates that spending on Public Cloud Services was 4% ($16.5 billion) of overall IT spending in 2009 and will grow to 12% ($55.5 billion) in 2014.  The following chart from Google Trends shows how searches for Cloud Computing has risen rapidly and has surpassed searches for Virtualization.

Google Trends - Cloud Computing vs. Virtualization

This week I attended the Cloud Expo in Santa Clara.  The conference was well represented by Cloud Computing providers (75 exhibitors) showing a diversity of approaches and opinions on what constitutes Cloud Computing.  There are 3 common types of Cloud Computing services and they are typically used as follows:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – consume it
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – build on it
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – migrate to it

The most valuable conference sessions of Cloud Expo that I attended were ‘How to Monetize SaaS Beyond Subscriptions’ presented by Scott Swartz (MetraTech CEO), ‘The Move is On: Cloud Strategies for Business’ by Tim O’Brien (Microsoft Senior Director of Platform Strategy Group), and ‘Which “aaS” is Right for You?” by Max Coburn (Hubspan Software Architect) and Margaret Dawson (Hubspan Marketing Vice President).

Last week I attended the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Redmond.  PDC is described as the definitive Microsoft event focused on the technical strategy of the Microsoft developer platform.  What made this PDC unique was that it held at Microsoft Corporation and provided an opportunity to see the campus where many products are developed.  Having attended the previous 3 PDCs, this year’s conference was short on new product announcements, but strong on message.  The focus was firmly on Windows Azure, Windows Mobile and Developer Tools.

The keynote was presented by Steve Ballmer (Chief Executive Officer) and Bob Muglia (President of the Server and Tools Business).  Steve presented an overview of Microsoft’s ecosystem of devices (Windows 7, Windows Phone 7, XBOX 360) connected (Internet Explorer, HTML5) to the Cloud (Windows Azure, SQL Azure, Bing, Office 365, XBOX Live, Windows Live).  This is the realization of the vision presented by Ray Ozzie at last year’s PDC of 3 screens (PCs, phones, and TVs) connected by cloud services.  The real surprise was the emphasis of HTML5 over Silverlight, raising the question of which technology to develop new applications with.  I spoke to several Microsoft employees about this and they answered consistently that it a similar question circulating within Microsoft as many projects are currently under development in Silverlight.

PDC10 Keynote - Steve Ballmer

Bob presented on Cloud Computing, focusing specifically on the benefits of developing Apps on a Platform as a Service (PaaS) as opposed to a traditional platform.  Bob said “Only Windows Azure delivers general-purpose PaaS, which gives developers the breadth of services needed to allow them to focus on their applications and not the underlying infrastructure or virtualizing machines”.  Bob announced the Virtual Machine Role for Windows Azure allowing the Windows Azure platform to easily host existing applications that run on Windows Server 2008 R2, and announced the Windows Azure Marketplace and DataMarket (formerly known as Project Dallas).

I was invited to attend a PDC10 workshop for Windows Azure on the weekend.  The workshop provided 1:1 product team consulting, hands-on labs, and small group interactive sessions.  The Microsoft product team were great to interact with and the day was extremely valuable.  I can confidently say that Windows Azure has matured rapidly since its release at the start of this year and is now the best PaaS to develop new applications against.


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2 Responses to “Forecast: Cloudy”

  1. Ranjiv Says:

    Thanks for this…most informative.

  2. Bob Says:

    The concerns regarding Microsoft’s commitment to Silverlight was addressed by Bob Muglia on the Silverlight Team Blog @

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