If you have dismissed Microsoft as a cloud platform player up to now, you might want to rethink that notion. With the latest release of Windows Azure here at Build, Microsoft’s premier developer shindig, this cloud service has become a serious contender for the top spot in cloud platforms. And all the old excuses that may have kept you away are quickly being eliminated.
In typical Microsoft fashion, the Redmond, Washington giant is attacking the cloud platform market with a competitive furor that can only be described as faster follower. In 2008, Microsoft quickly saw the disruptive change that Amazon Web Services (AWS) represented and accelerated its own lab project centered around delivering Windows as a cloud platform. Version 1.0 of Azure was decidedly different and immature and thus struggled to establish its place in the market. But with each iteration, Microsoft has expanded Azure’s applicability, appeal, and maturity. And the pace of change for Windows Azure has accelerated dramatically under the new leadership of Satya Nadella. He came over from the consumer Internet services side of Microsoft, where new features and capabilities are normally released every two weeks — not every two years, as had been the norm in the server and tools business prior to his arrival.
Computerwoche Germany has organized this week the second annual BestInCloud Award. I had the honor to be on a jury for this unique award again. The BestInCloud Award is really unique, as it does not simply compare cloud products. It is looking at successful implementations of real cloud projects in Germany. The balance of great customer value AND a good leverage of an underlying cloud IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS is the secret source to convince the jury. I'd like to congratulate this year's winners and share with you what impressed me personally most with these projects:
SaaS - Public Cloud: arvato systems GmbH
Customer: Janssen KG
Project: farmpilot - mobile farm management
This project was the only SaaS application heavily leveraging mobile access to the cloud in addition to bringing multiple companies, including farmers, contractors, and agricultural traders, together in a way it would never be possible if a single company owned a system on premises.
SaaS - Privat Cloud: Plex Systems, Inc.
Customer: Inteva Products, Inc.
Projekt: Inteva Products, Inc. implemented an integrated ERP system for manufacturing
Actually, most customers do not directly compare Oracle with Salesforce.com, as organizations buy very different things from these two vendors. While Oracle has a diversified portfolio of middleware components and a bunch of business applications, Salesforce still clearly makes the majority of its revenue from its SaaS CRM products, delivered exclusively via a native public cloud. You are also welcome to read the blog of my colleague James Staten, who explored Oracle Oracle’s cloud announcements in detail.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general of despicable ideology and consummate tactics, spoke of “keepin up the skeer,” applying continued pressure to opponents to prevent them from regrouping and counterattacking. POWER7+, the most recent version of IBM’s POWER architecture, anticipated as a follow-up to the POWER7 for almost a year, was finally announced this week, and appears to be “keepin up the skeer” in terms of its competitive potential for IBM POWER-based systems. In short, it is a hot piece of technology that will keep existing IBM users happy and should help IBM maintain its impressive momentum in the Unix systems segment.
For the chip heads, the CPU is implemented in a 32 NM process, the same as Intel’s upcoming Poulson, and embodies some interesting evolutions in high-end chip design, including:
Use of DRAM instead of SRAM — IBM has pioneered the use of embedded DRAM (eDRAM) as embedded L3 cache instead of the more standard and faster SRAM. In exchange for the loss of speed, eDRAM requires fewer transistors and lower power, allowing IBM to pack a total of 80 MB (a lot) of shared L3 cache, far more than any other product has ever sported.