If you’ve had any questions about how valuable the web is or is going to be for business, today’s keynote speaker at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2008 (PDC2008) would have laid those questions to rest. Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Corp.'s Chief Software Architect, referred to the web as the front door to business and spoke of how critical success on the web is to businesses. Microsoft is betting on the web to become the central hub of user and enterprise systems. Today Ray demonstrated a new operating system for the Internet called Azure - a platform which will provide simplified scalability and will allow for better and more powerful web applications. Azure integrates with Microsoft's tools (NET Framework, Visual Studio, Sharepoint, SQL, Live, and Dynamics CRM), but is not limited to Microsoft's products. Web applications or web programming languages like PHP can be integrated as well. Azure works as a layer - "fabric controller" - on top of all your web applications.
For example, a web administrator will be able to log into the System Center to view their web applications' resource requirements and easily add more resources when needed. Extending a resource will add another virtual service within the shared hosting environment at Microsoft and allow for increased capacity when it's required. As you might imagine, Microsoft's hosting of other companies' data has many implications.
On the one hand businesses may look at this offering as a reliable, scalable, and simple solution for their web services. On the other hand, it may also pose liability and privacy concerns. No mention was made of a Canadian data center during the keynote presentation or at Microsoft’s Canadian employees' roundtable discussion which I had the opportunity to attend. However, the issue of Canadian privacy laws was noted and recognized as a known issue that needed to be addressed at some point. Ray marked Azure as another turning point for the industry.
The importance of the web to Microsoft was made once again apparent with the investment and launch of Azure at PDC2008 today, as well as the dedication of approximately 1000 people in its build, according to Mark Gilbert, Technical Advisor of Server and Tools Business. Stay tuned for more to come in the next few days.
PS: Thanks Gwen for your help.