In a recent article from the Register regarding Ray Ozzie’s comments on Google Wave, Ray Ozzie is quoted on the “complexity” of Google Wave and some potential challenges with the architecture on the Web. As part of an attempt to compare and contrast Google Wave with Live Mesh and Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform, the article includes a few inaccuracies regarding Azure that need to be cleared up. Here’s what Gavin Clarke had to say regarding Azure:
You still need to buy into the Microsoft SQL Server architecture, for all Ozzie’s talk of the complexity of Wave and the implied openness of things like Mesh and the Exchange and SharePoint services. Azure’s storage system, for instance, is based on Microsoft’s SQL Server. Also, you’ll still be building applications for Azure and all those Microsoft services using Microsoft’s Visual Studio and relying on .NET.
First, Azure isn’t based on the SQL Server architecture. One of the core components of the Windows Azure platform is Azure Storage Services, which includes support for blobs, tables and queues and can be leveraged for a broad range of storage application needs. This is a new framework that is not based on SQL Server. For apps that require a more traditional DBMS, the SQL Services component of the Azure Services platform can be leveraged and this does incorporate SQL Server into the architecture. For more details on both of these components and the architectural distinctions, see David Chappell’s Azure whitepaper. And more specifically, Mesh has no dependency on SQL Services as part of its architecture.
On the topic of building applications, contrary to the Register’s claim Azure does not require Visual Studio or .NET in order to use the platform. In fact, in this particular area Azure is likely to excel with developers. First, Azure has announced support for integration with third party IDEs including Eclipse and will support Java and Ruby SDKs. We also have examples of the JRE running in Azure, enabling developers to leverage Java for their server-side Azure applications (not fully supported, at least not yet, but still an option). Additionally, Azure supports a range of protocols, including HTTP, SOAP/WS*, REST, and Atom. Sam Ramji has a run down here.
The discussion of Wave and its complexity aside, I think that most people would agree that having this range of protocols, languages and tools for Azure developers promotes simplicity and flexibility for developers using the platform. As a user of the Azure platform today and someone who will likely be working with customers to help them implement Azure-based solutions, I look forward to more announcements from this team on their support for open, heterogeneous Web technologies.
News to me, but apparently Paul Buchheit created the slogan “Don’t Be Evil”. Wikipedia confirms, but also erroneously credits Paul with creating Ajax (the underlying Ajax technologies were introduced by Microsoft). Frankly, it is hard to take anyone seriously who created a company motto reminding an organization not to be “evil” to their customers. Friendfeed now seems a little lamer to me than it did before.
The Boy Genius Report: “By “Jaiku is the new Twitter”, we’re hardly suggesting it is a popular new microblogging site that may overtake the reigning king. No, that ship has sailed. We mean it never works anymore.”
Steve Gillmor ties together a bunch of disconnected thoughts, ideas and trends in a post that snidely refers to Bill Gates getting a gold watch and retiring. Steve is a savant of sorts. He spots patterns and trends that others can’t see but struggles to articulate why they’re there and what they’ll lead to.
But there is a redeeming quote in the piece: “But don’t think that just because Google will prosper that Microsoft won’t. Live Mesh can fit into this like a glove, feeding downstream vertical versions of affinity groups to skinned Silverlight containers. We’re within weeks of offerings already from Twhirl, FriendFeed, Summize, and others we just haven’t been told about yet. All Microsoft needs to do is get Bill his gold watch and get back to work.”
What Steve is missing is that the work hasn’t ever stopped and that the “ship cycles” are very long. We are at a major inflection point but we don’t leave all of our past investments behind. Just as Facebook started nearly 5 years ago as a slick app for college kids to connect with their friends and now represents a “social graph”, the infrastructure that Microsoft has built out for internet presence (Live Messenger, Spaces), collaborative business applications (SharePoint, CRM) and end-user enablement on the desktop (Excel, Word) are now rapidly converging into something new. To Steve’s point, Mesh could be an innovative way to rapidly innovate and distribute more of these scenarios while leveraging the people and tools we’re already tied into. SilverLight could be a big part of how the experience is delivered. Either way, something new and significant is coming together here.
I’m not sure that Steve sees it, but I’d say the future looks very bright here for Microsoft.
UPDATE- Steve sees it.