Microsoft's Partner Conference for 2010 is just getting underway, and already some big news is coming out of the event: MS is officially revealing its Azure cloud computing platform, and noting big first-run customers like eBay and Dell will be using it.
We all know that cloud computing is one of the next big things in computing—it'll transform how we use everything from desktop to media PCs to smartphones, and it's been enabled by ubiquitous broadband and 3G wireless connectivity. MS knows it too, and it has already indicated it's keen to embrace cloud computing tech by transforming part of its Office 2010 suite into a cloud-based system. This isn't enough, though, and unless MS quickly pushed forward with the tech to support other cloud-based businesses, it risked losing big marketshare to Amazon and other competitors. During his speech at MSPC, CEO Steve Ballmer even remarked that we're at "an inflection point in technology history" with the arrival of cloud computing, which "creates tremendous value" for customers and "massive opportunity" for MS.
One tool for enabling cloud computing is the Windows Azure platform, which lets clients create a public or private "service platform"—meaning you can run apps on MS's cloud servers, and use them to powerfully boost your business. Eduify was one of the first test customers of the service, and it resulted in a suite of apps to help students write their essays at home, in school, or wherever.
But the fact that eBay is going to be one of the first, big official customers is huge news for Microsoft. As a pilot test, eBay's been running its page for iPad listings on a public Azure platform. Now it's going to embrace the cloud apps more fully, and will be linking Azure into two of its data centers. The idea is to do the usual business-speak nonsense of improved "agility" and "efficiency" and "optimization," but really what it means is that eBay's burden of self-owned computer power will be reduced. It may even speed up some of the way eBay's systems work, and that can only benefit eBay's millions of online auction users. Should other large businesses adopt the platform, Azure skies ahead indeed for Microsoft.
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