Ozzie foreshadows 'Zurich,' Microsoft's elastic cloud

Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie foreshadowed a couple of still-to-be-released Microsoft's cloud-developer services -- "Zurich" and "Red Dog" -- during his speech at the company's annual Financial Analyst Meeting (FAM) on July 24.

Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie foreshadowed a couple of still-to-be-released Microsoft's cloud-developer services during his speech at the company's annual Financial Analyst Meeting (FAM) on July 24.

Ozzie was careful to avoid codenames or ship dates during his talk for Wall Street analysts and media in Redmond. But it was pretty clear Ozzie was alluding to Microsoft's plans for its alternatives to Amazon.com's Elastic Compute Cloud and similar offerings.

Microsoft is known (at least by some of us) to be building a cloud platform atop which it will allow ISVs to build their business applications. That platform is codenamed "Zurich." Microsoft has described Project Zurich publicly -- to the very limited extent done so -- an initiative to "extend Microsoft’s .NET application development technologies to the Internet ‘cloud.’”

"Many software vendors and VARs (value-added resellers) want to move their solutions to the cloud," Ozzie told FAM attendees. Ozzie also said that Microsoft hoped to build a hosted-developer solution that would appeal not just to commercial vendors, but to open-source companies, as well. Ozzie said Microsoft was developing a solution that would have a "pay-as-you-go" model.

Microsoft fielded a first piece of a hosted developer offering, known as SQL Server Data Services (SSDS) earlier this year. SSDS is considered a competitor to Amazon's SimpleDB, which Amazon's Web Services subsidiary of Amazon.com  released into public beta in December 2007, and is a complement and adjunct to the company’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3). It allows customers to store, modify and query data hosted in the cloud.

Another related piece of the Zurich/elastic cloud puzzle is Microsoft's Red Dog, which is the lowest-level operating-system layer that will run on Microsoft's datacenter servers that will host Zurich hosted apps (best I can tell, with no confirmation from Microsoft.) I believe Ozzie also alluded to Red Dog at FAM, noting that on the back-end infrastructure, Microsoft was looking to provide software that would enable a single server or thousands of PCs spread across geographically dispersed datacenters, to be seen as a single server.

Ozzie told FAM attendees that Microsoft is working on a set of platforms and tools for the cloud transition. "We want to make a programming model leveragable on premise and in the cloud," Ozzie said.

He noted that "Amazon has done a terrific job" at delivering a hosted solution for developers. "We've learned a lot from it."

Ozzie declined to provide FAM attendees with a delivery date for Zurich, but said "over the course of fiscal '09 (which ends on June 30, 2009), you will see the entire strategy rounded out."

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