It’s All About The Cloud At WPC10

Attendees at this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2010 in Washington, D.C. already expect Windows Azure development to be a key theme throughout this annual pilgrimage.  Microsoft has made significant investments into the cloud.   Many executives from the Redmond, WA, software giant have publicly stated that 90% of its development will be focused on the Cloud by 2012.  Delivery of the Cloud begins with the Azure platform which includes three main offerings:

  1. Microsoft Windows Azure
  2. Microsoft SQL Azure (formerly SQL Services)
  3. Microsoft Windows Azure Platform: AppFabric (formerly .NET Services).

Therefore, Microsoft partners must determine their strategy based on what part of the cloud they plan to compete in and which Azure services to leverage.  As with any cloud platform, the four layers include infrastructure, orchestration, creation, and consumption (see Figure 1):

  • Infrastructure. At a minimum, Windows Azure provides the infrastructure as a service.  Data center investments and the related capital expense (capex) is replace with oeprational expenses (opex).  Most partners will take advantage of Azure at the infrastructure level or consider alternatives such as Amazon EC2 or even self provision hosting on partner servers and hardware.
  • Orchestration. Microsoft Windows Azure Platform: AppFabric delivers the key “middleware” layers.  AppFabric includes an enterprise service bus to connect across network and organizational boundaries.  AppFabric also delivers access control security for federated authorization.  Most partners will leverage these PaaS tools.  However, non-Microsoft tools could include advanced SaaS integration, complex event processing, business process management, and richer BI tools.  The Windows AppFabric July release now supports Adobe Flash and Microsoft SilverLight.
  • Creation. Most partners will build solutions via VisualStudio and Microsoft SQL Azure (formerly SQL Services).  Other creation tools could include Windows Phone7 and even Java.  Most partners expect to use the majority of tools from Microsoft and augment with third party solutions as needed.
  • Consumption. Here’s where partners will create value added solutions for sale to customers.  Partners must build applications that create market driven differentiators.  For most partners, the value added solutions in the consumption layer will provide the highest margin and return on investment (ROI).

.NET:.NET (tongue and cheek here) – Microsoft partners and developers can transfer existing skill sets and move to the cloud with ease, once Microsoft irons out the business model for partners on Azure.

Figure 1. Partners Must Determine Which Layer To Place Strategic Bets

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