Back in 2006, when I interviewed Ed Dun of Fooky.com, I was worried about his use of Microsoft technology for his Web presence. Ed Dunn was not. Now that Microsoft has released its “cloud” offerings, I can understand why Ed Dunn was not worried (even though I know he has a plan A while this Microsoft cloud thing can be his plan B).
You see, let me tell it. It go’ like this:
- The Microsoft Cloud (which includes Windows Azure) is Microsoft’s slow-ass-but-very-comprehensive response to Internet Service Providers. I know a guy like Paul Thurrott may chuckle at this one because Microsoft is not selling “dot-com names” like GoDaddy.com. But ISP MediaTemple.com is selling a grid computing service (
mtgrid < mscloud).
- The Microsoft Cloud is (obviously) a response to Amazon’s Elastic Computing Cloud. But the Microsoft advantage here is that way too much long-tail data of small-business is in Microsoft formats (SQL Server and Office). Amazon, like Google, can’t touch these formats like Microsoft can. Instead of being scared of losing billions per month (yes, per month) by trapping people into Office formats from the 1990s, Microsoft is finally getting some balls and opening this shit up. For anyone who has ever rented an ISP account that used SQL Server, you will know that the cloud’s SQL Services and the BLOB Storage of Windows Azure make that ISP shit from back in the day look like a joke (I knew it was a joke when I first saw it years ago—which why I use Linux-based systems to this day).
- The Microsoft Cloud is (maybe-not-so-obviously) a response to Google Apps. Entire Universities use Google Apps for their email and other stuff. Microsoft would like to do this too (and be taken seriously). The tooling story for Google Apps is command-line-python-centric pathetic compared to the Visual Studio flagship that is undefeated (and these words are coming from a guy who just spent hours yesterday writing Java code in Gnome on Ubuntu in NetBeans 6.5RC2 and Eclipse Europa—most Microsoft Employees don’t even know intimately how much better their tooling story is).
- The Microsoft Cloud strategy is an interactive ‘online service’ for developers. When Microsoft allowed Silverlight developers to host their videos on Microsoft servers, I thought this would be unique and unusual. I am pleased to be wrong about this. For the first time in this crazy-ass company’s history, Microsoft will offer seriously-scalable Internetworking products to its millions of professional developers. Previously, Microsoft just provided some toys to compete with the Dreamweaver market (like FTP upload in Visual Studio). This was (and is) an insult to Microsoft developers who understood the importance of the Internet long before Bill Gates with his whack-ass, corn-fed, “Road Ahead.”
- The Microsoft Cloud strategy depends on years of real-world experience running several of the biggest Internet sites in the world—like MSDN.com, MSN.com and, by proxy, MySpace.com. It was sad to hear a paying attendee at the PDC stand up at the Q&A microphone and express doubt about Microsoft’s ability to function properly on the Internet. But I blame Microsoft for letting that doubt grow during the years it was bludgeoning Netscape in some silicon back alley.
In the same manner that most properly-assimilated Americans (north and south) are reluctant to talk about the systematic murder of indigenous peoples, Microsoft will be forever reluctant to talk about why it tried to ‘kill’ (or ignore—which can be same esoteric thing) the entire Internet.
The Microsoft cloud strategies are a tacit apology for this greed-based, imperial blunder. However, remember that MediaTemple.com has these little, toy grids. Little folks like MediaTemple.com will never be able to scale to the level of Amazon.com, Google.com and Microsoft.com. So Microsoft has another chance to actually kill the Internet by taking it over. Seriously. This is not drama on my part. This is just white history poetically repeating itself. This is not the “road ahead” but the “toll road ahead”—for more information about Microsoft’s cloud thing without my racial epithets, see Mary Jo Foley’s “Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform: A guide for the perplexed.”
It is sad that Microsoft wasted so much time with a consumer-focused Internet strategy, trying use the defunct MSN to dominate (and hobbling together Google-envious advertising technology deals). Now the cloud will be in the hands of millions of .NET Developers—remember why it’s called “dot net” in the first place? This means that developers, like Ed Dunn, have a huge cushion to fall back on should they so choose—and Microsoft will be operating the toll roads ahead possibly making more billions per month (unless an outfit like AT&T has some mafia litigation to add to the Redmond Karma).
We should be hearing about more Microsoft-based startups instead of ex-employees from Redmond starting up a company like Real Networks.
And, oh, by the way, Microsoft cloud also represents the vindication of REST over SOAP. For more about this, dig into “Paul Prescod, the RESTafarian Most High” here in the kinté space.