Amazon to host Microsoft solutions in the cloud

Amazon announced Oct. 1 that it is conducting a private beta
test of Microsoft's server products running on Amazon's hosted
computing platform, which is called Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
(EC2). Amazon expects to offer companies the ability to run their
applications on EC2 using Microsoft Windows Server or Microsoft SQL
Server sometime in the fall, according to anannouncement issued by the company.

The EC2 platform currently runs applications using various
UNIX-based operating systems, but Amazon says that the "ability to
run a Windows environment within Amazon EC2 has been one of our
most requested features." The announcement added that EC2 is
"ideal" for running ASP.NET-based Web sites and "high performance
computing clusters."

Amazon's announcement comes as Microsoft officials hint at their
own Internet cloud computing plans. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
reportedly told a TechNet audience in London on Oct. 1 that
Microsoft will announce a "Windows Cloud" in four week's time. Such an
announcement would coincide roughly with Microsoft's Professional
Developers Conference, which is slated for Oct. 27.

One of Microsoft's competitors in the Internet cloud-computing
space is Google, with its Google Apps and Google Gears
applications, but Ballmer reportedly said that Google "doesn't have
much for enterprise."

It's not clear what a Microsoft Windows cloud offering would
look like. However, veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley has
offered some guesses. Candidates for disclosure at the
PDC event include a project code-named "Red Dog" that Foley
describes as a "low-level cloud OS." Other components to the
platform might include Zurich, a cloud computing .NET extension,
and elements such as the "Velocity distributed caching technology,"
plus SQL Server Data Services, she wrote.

Microsoft, for its part, has been quietly building out
datacenters and already offers some of its own products as hosted
solutions, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and
Dynamics CRM Online. In addition, the company rolled out a data
synchronization solution in April called Live Mesh that promises to move data
across the Internet cloud to various devices, regardless of the

Microsoft's cloud computing talk comes even as others have been
pushing back against the term. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison last week
told the Wall Street Journal that cloud
computing was "complete gibberish." Free Software Foundation
Founder Richard Stallman dismissed cloud computing as "a marketing
hype campaign" in an interview published on Monday.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.


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