Playing on strengths
Microsoft is an entrenched name in the industry with hordes of developers flocking to its banner. Easing the way for developers to bring their applications to the cloud is the essence of Azure.
Microsoft will have to fight less than other providers to lure developers to its platform, because of the very large number of existing Microsoft developers who will want to use the platform to move their products into the cloud.
"If you think of it with the functionality of .NET, the 50,000 or so developers that exist in Australia who are .NET developers automatically become cloud developers overnight," Microsoft developer and platform evangelism director Gianpaolo Carraro says.
Developers scale the amounts of computer storage they need for their applications by entering a ratio by which they want to change their uptake. Microsoft also aims to make it even easier by offering a cloud-based pay-per-use SQL database, connectivity between Azure and on-premise applications, as well as single sign-on functionality.
Of course, anyone using an infrastructure-as-a-service cloud product from a cloud competitor will be able to install their own SQL database on virtual machines, or write their own single sign-on and app connectivity. However, with Azure, Microsoft has done the leg work for developers, exacting a price for that higher level of support. The idea is that developers can stop wasting time on lower level issues and spend more time on their apps.
"Development houses try to spend most of their time developing the features of their software product themselves, not the infrastructure in terms of the connectivity, the web hosting, the databases," Carraro says.
According to Super, this means a 60 per cent saving in costs for the company. "You're looking at the monthly expenditure on running our own equipment at the moment, not even to mention the labour costs on top of that versus a fully managed version of Windows Azure," he says.
CaterXpress has had to ask its clients if they were willing to have the app hosted overseas, but Super says there has as yet been "no hesitation" because of the more rigorous redundancy and back-up Azure offers. Geography isn't relevant, he believes. "I guess because we deal with small-to-medium-sized businesses those sort of questions just aren't asked."
If some of the customers don't agree, CaterXpress will simply keep them running on the in-house servers, but those customers won't be receiving the cost savings that CaterXpress will pass onto the others.