According to a recent post by SD Times’ David Worthington, the Azure team is projecting that 50,000 applications will reside in its cloud within three years. Did anyone expect something different?
Everything at Microsoft is big, and if it can’t be big, it can’t be at Microsoft. The company has over 10 products that have annual sales over a billion dollars. And with a large installed base of applications already written on the .NET framework, it’s logical to think that many companies will develop their next generation applications on the next generation of Microsoft technology, especially as Microsoft is trying to make the upgrade path smooth. But the operative word is “trying”. Even according to their own website, many of the new .NET Services are still in the works, although I don’t doubt that they’ll get it done eventually. But the question is when. Time is ticking along. Force.com has over 100,000 applications already and AWS and AppEngine are picking up steam.
And that’s why the introduction of the concept of Azure was more important to the actual set of services and technology. Part of the strategy is a stall. Don’t develop on AWS or Force.com or Google’s AppEngine, wait for Azure. It will make life easy, it will feel good. Even the name evokes visions of sitting on a beach looking at beautiful blue waters under crystal clear skies. But at the end of the day they’re going to have a deliver a platform that performs very well (as a comparison, Salesforce.com runs its’ entire business on about 1,000 servers — that’s extremely efficient) and provides a reasonably clear and easy upgrade path to existing Microsoft shops. And more importantly, it’s going to have to deliver a strong business proposition. Worthington states that “…[Microsoft] is pitching Azure more on its merits as a business model than as a technology,” and they’ll have to. How they structure the platform pricing and cost of the different software components will be key. But the guys at Microsoft are no dummies, so we’ll see what they come up with in a month or two. But otherwise, there are a lot of technology options and interesting business models that ISVs and Enterprises alike will have to choose from.