Microsoft’s Windows Azure Making Inroads – The Quiet Storm Ahead


The cloud market as we know it will certainly be changing as Windows Azure is on the uptick.  It is true that the cloud platform has not traditionally been in serious competition with the large with the IaaS providers such as Amazon EC2, but that could be changing.    Windows Azure is one of the components along with the newly available Windows Server 2012 that Microsoft has collectively dubbed “the Cloud OS”.  With a common base for cloud application development, virtualization features, and other features, there is little doubt that it works in the Windows world.  That has been the rub on Azure – what about everything else.  Microsoft is employing a familiar and very slick strategy to create more adoption and it’s happening right underneath a lot of noses.

With Azure’s Virtual Machines service, those limitations are a thing of the past.  The IaaS service composed Azure Web Sites, and Media Services, is quietly making inroads.  The Virtual Machines service allows for a variety of ways of getting VMs into the Azure environment.  Customers can create VMs from a Microsoft or partner-provided image, they can create a custom image, or the customer can simply put their pre-build VHD format systems into the environment.   The pre-built Microsoft images support a number of Linux distributions along with the expected Microsoft images.  With Identity Services and Active Directory recently made available, the overall offering is becoming more and more compelling.  Altogether the services offer the simple and flexible ability to extend native networks, systems, and workloads into the cloud.

In a recent conversation on Azure I had with Convergent Computing (CCO) President Rand Morimoto, this little discussed dance with Azure was confirmed.

“Microsoft has announced the new and upcoming Azure Virtual Machines, Web Sites, and Media Services in Beta which is really slick, something we have a LOT of customers currently running and testing.”

CCO is not your average boutique technology consultancy, their client base is vast and centered on all the best and well-known companies in Silicon Valley.  As the bestselling author of some thirty technology books, including the well-known “Unleashed” series, Morimoto certainly knows what he is talking about.

This appears to be just the tip of the iceberg, as the industry is always for full-featured and practical technology offerings and options. Hyper-V is similarly providing a potentially disruptive option in the virtualization market.  To the right decision-maker, a familiar environment for management and deployment, and a reduced demand for staff training and support costs these options may appear a far less fearsome undertaking.  With new features constantly on the way, collaboration with cutting-edge cloud operators, combined with bundled cost advantages, it could be forming a quiet storm in the distance.  The mid-market and the enterprise appear to be poised to adopt Windows Azure willingly.