Cloud // Infrastructure as a Service
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Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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Microsoft Windows Azure Turns One, Still Growing Up

The future of cloud computing lies with those services best able to invoke the hybrid model, where Microsoft still lags.

Granted, it's going to take a lot of know-how to get all the moving parts to work together, open source or otherwise. But the picture I expect to develop over the next two years is companies learning lessons in the public cloud, then applying them in their private data centers. When the time is ripe, they will start using the public cloud as a carefully calibrated extension of their private cloud and try to maximize the reward of cloud computing. They'll stop over-provisioning their data center and start relying on the public cloud to handle both periodic and unexpected spikes.

Azure will fit into this picture as well as EC2, Rackspace, Terremark, Savvis, and other cloud vendors. But the unstated standard for public cloud success will slowly become not how big your data centers are, or how many you have, or even how cheaply you operate them, but how well they can function as part of a hybrid cloud. I see gaps in the Microsoft hybrid cloud strategy and some of them are going to be hard to fill.

Speaking of Terremark, Verizon Communications, which has 220 telecom data centers and huge aspirations to get into the cloud business, is paying $1.4 billion to acquire the firm, noted as a managed services provider that's been quick to extend cloud services to government and business clients. You can read more about the deal in our story here.

The only previous measure that we had of a cloud service provider's worth was's payment of $212 million for Heroku. Heroku was a small niche specialist, catering to Ruby programmers compared to Terremark. That has warmed the cockles of the brave hearts that previously invested in creating GoGrid, Engine Yard, Joyent, Bluelock, or, for that matter, RimuHosting in Cambridge, New Zealand, nevermind what Amazon's EC2 might be now worth. No wonder the cloud critics are running for the woods.

But did Verizon, in its eagerness to take the plunge, pay too much? One of my favorite skeptical technologists, David Linthicum, wrote: "Verizon has the same problem as many other telecommunications giants: It has fat pipes and knows how to move data, but it doesn't know how to turn its big honking networks into big honking cloud computing offerings... Will the Terremark deal change all that? It's a step in the right direction, but Verizon has many more moves to make before it really gets into the cloud market."

Novell Cloud Manager, which from the start, was designed to be both multi-hypervisor and multi-cloud compatible, is collecting good reviews. But Novell, remember is being acquired by Attachmate. What will be the fate of Cloud Manager inside Attachmate? We can only hope one of Novell's most promising initiatives doesn't get snuffed out. So far, no sign that it will, no assurance that it won't. Attachmate produces software for terminal emulation, legacy software modernization, systems and security management, and application integration. It's not been at the forefront of cloud computing so far.

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