Home > Cloud Computing, Virtualization > Microsoft’s Azure: When Clouds Encircle Islands, Things Get Foggy…

Microsoft’s Azure: When Clouds Encircle Islands, Things Get Foggy…

Microsoft’s announcements today at OzzieFest (Microsoft’s PDC) include the unveiling of Windows Azure.


The Azure “services platform” is described as:

…an internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers, which provides an
operating system and a set of developer services that can be used individually or together. Azure’s flexible and interoperable platform
can be used to build new applications to run from the cloud or enhance existing applications with cloud-based capabilities. Its open
gives developers the choice to build web applications, applications running on connected devices, PCs, servers, or hybrid
solutions offering the best of online and on-premises.

Holy buzzword bingo, batman!

Look, when I’m forced into vendor lock-in in order to host my applications and I am confined to one vendor’s datacenters without portability, that’s not ” the cloud” and it’s not an “open architecture,” it’s marketing-speak for “we’re now your ASP/XaaS service provider of choice.”

Azure doesn’t run “in the cloud.” It’s a set of hosted services connected to the Internet. In this case the “cloud” is more like fog which encircles the islands of data inhabited by Dr. Moreau and his ghoulish API-infected creatures. (Ed: In full disclosure a year later this strategy makes a crap-load more sense. I simply didn’t get it at all back when I wrote this post)

Amazon has their hosting infrastructure and API’s/SDK’s, Microsoft has theirs. Google, too.

You might convince me there is such thing as THE cloud if there was ONE standardized API subscribed to by everyone who claims membership in the cloud. But there isn’t. Everyone is announcing their own little island with their own API, own “datacenter operating system,” etc.

I go back to my recent rant titled “Will You All Please Shut-Up About Securing THE Cloud…NO SUCH THING…” wherein I stated:

There is no singularity that can be described as “THE Cloud.”

There are many clouds, they’re not federated, they don’t natively
interoperate at the application layer and they’re all mostly
proprietary in their platform and operation. They’re also not all
“public” and most don’t exchange data in any form. The notion that
we’re all running out to put our content and apps in some common repository
on someone else’s infrastructure (or will) is bullshit. Can we stop selling this lemon already?

Just like there are many types of
real billowing humid masses (cumulonimbus, fibratus, undulatus, etc.)
there are many instantiations of resource-based computing models that
float about in use today — mobile.me, SalesForce.com, Clean Pipes from
ISP’s, Google/Google Apps, Amazon EC2, WebEx — all “cloud” services.
The only thing they have in common is they speak a dialect called IP…

Again, I’m not suggesting that this model is not reasonable, warranted or worthwhile. I am a big believer in leveraging open architectures for the interoperable exchange of data as well as resiliency, scale and utility computing.

I’m simply suggesting that re-branding the word “Internet” and implementing ROT13 to arrive at “Cloud” is really confusing and intellectually dishonest.

It’s not FUD, it’s FOG.


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  1. October 27th, 2008 at 11:12 | #1

    Wouldn't it be neat if there were such a cloud?
    If anyone with a bunch of free compute cycles could sell their free cycles on the internet, and programmers could just grab open resources with a standard API, instead of writing amazon specific code?
    Sort of like a shared SETI@home, but for all sorts of applications, and people at home with idle computers could watch the micropayments dribble in?
    Yea, it's all fantasy, and not remotely cost effective for anyone in the entire loop, but it's technically feasible with today's technology.
    It would make more sense than calling everyone's networked-application-environment "the cloud".

  2. October 27th, 2008 at 11:25 | #2

    @Matt: just after I copy/pasted this from my editor, I noticed I left out a paragraph addressing exactly your point! Great minds think alike!

  3. October 27th, 2008 at 14:15 | #3

    I couldn't agree more!! Bring out the real standards!

  4. October 28th, 2008 at 03:14 | #4

    Actually, traditionally, Microsoft don’t stray into areas where they can’t have some leverage even if they are not initially the biggest player (think Browser, Portable Phones, Hardware) and with their clout they are able to almost take over the area they enter.
    What usually happens is you end up with 2 camps – open standards and Microsoft Standards.
    Once Google, Amazon et al realise what they are up against – you may just get your wish for an open “cloud” platform.
    So, you’ll have 2 clouds.
    Of course, just where your data is at any one time is still going to be difficult to know with certainty.

  5. February 11th, 2009 at 04:48 | #5

    Unix philosophy was very successful because it consisted of small tools that do one thing well, enabling power users to do some pretty clever things by 'aggregating' tools like cat, grep, etc. with pipelines. The same can be said of cloud computing, only the pipelines are replaced by internet protocols (typically HTTP[S]) and are thus network accessible. Everything's a URL and is universally accessible (with the requisite authorisation) so you don't have to worry about perimeters (hence 'THE' cloud). Here's a PoC I whipped up a while back.
    Of course it'll be a while before you can 'pipe' your contacts between arbitrary providers, but that's more a question of language than linkage and structured text (XML, JSON, etc.) over REST already gets you most of the way there.
    We do agree on "leveraging open architectures for the interoperable exchange of data as well as resiliency, scale and utility computing", only I'm more about giving users tools today than trying to tackle the big picture from scratch (which rarely works, at least on the Internet).

  6. October 4th, 2011 at 02:42 | #6

    grandioso a tritro si ltubalha adefa con issemo. argarc istados se tôncion son prerg mi ombram flitademe y flices fulhos madamur.

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