Microsoft becoming a SaaS company

Azure's management system can enable software and data to escape a hardware failure. This requirement actually hurts Microsoft in the short term. Services must be run on pre-designed templates.

Still from “The Wizard of Oz,” 1939, MGM, the great and powerful wizard
With the beta launch of Windows Azure Microsoft has laid down how it hopes to beat open source.

It will become a Software as a Service (SaaS) outfit. (Picture from Verdoux, a wonderful blog about movie history.)

Under Ray Ozzie Microsoft has begun the task of transferring all its technologies to this paradigm.

Corporate VP Amitabh Srivastava told our Ina Fried that, so far, only Live Mesh and .Net have been moved to the technology once known as "red dog."

The key difference between Azure and the traditional Windows code concept is that Azure code is managed. Managed code is not vulnerable to a single hardware failure.

Azure's management system can enable software and data to escape a hardware failure. This makes it excellent for use in a cloud. This is the idea behind the cloud, that a program can be running anywhere and everywhere all at once.

This requirement actually hurts Microsoft in the short term. Services must be run on pre-designed templates. In time Microsoft will add more templates and then make Azure template-free, but it's a short-term limitation.

What has to be coming, in my view, is greater visibility into every cloud, something better than a weather report. Microsoft wants customers to ask cloud vendors  hard questions about how their applications will run and how they will be protected.

These are good questions to ask. For a long time cloud computing has been like the great and powerful Oz before Toto pulled back the curtain. That revealed a humbug.

I doubt pulling the curtain back on Amazon or Google will reveal Frank Morgan fumbling at a bunch of dials and switches. But it will start a process of answering questions customers deserve answers to.

For starting that process in earnest, Microsoft deserves congratulations and thanks, even from open source advocates.