Microsoft is working on a programming model to make it easier to migrate clumps of computation and data storage between datacentres.
The model, named 'Orleans', creates a programming layer that can sit between Microsoft's Common Language Runtime (CLR) environment and Microsoft's cloud platform Azure.
CLR embraces programmes written in C#, VB.NET or other .Net languages that are then compiled into Microsoft's Common Intermediate Language (CIL), which are then converted into CLR.
Orleans is designed to create a unified programming model for the client and the server. It offers greater abstraction so that applications can be easily ported across different platforms.
Tantalisingly, Orleans introduces the notion of "grains", which are described (in slides seen by Mary-Jo Foley), as units of computation and data storage that can migrate between data centres.
What these units of computation comprise of is unknown, as Microsoft told ZDNet UK on Thursday: "Orleans is a research project in Microsoft Research. We don't have any additional information to share at this time".
Other web giants appear to have experimented with migrating chunks of data (and computation) between multiple datacentres before. In 2009, Google fellow Jeff Dean presented a wide-ranging paper that coyly hinted at Google's own experiments with data and computation migration; slide 68 of the presentation (PDF) described Spanner, a Google-designed system that "automatically moves and adds replicas of data and computation based on constraints and usage patterns" across multiple datacentres.