Oh, the irony in IT. Early in my career, the Windows operating system dominated the corporate world, until Linux came along and presented an alternative to Windows dominance. Flash forward to today, and now both Amazon and Google, two of the largest cloud computing platforms that have Linux supporting the hypervisor, are able to support Windows Servers and other platforms.
Let me be more specific about the functionality and availability of the Windows platform on Amazon EC2 and Google Compute Engine. Recently, Google announced that it has “expanded its Windows support on Google Cloud Platform through Microsoft License Mobility, the addition of Windows Server 2008 R2 to Google Compute Engine and free availability of the Chrome remote desktop app for Windows users in the platform” (Trevor Jones, TechTarget). In my opinion, this is a strategy to test and work out the Windows 2008 Server capabilities. I think Google’s near-term strategy is to allow customers to move an existing license for an on-premises SQL Server, SharePoint, or Exchange Server installation to Google with no licensing fee, at least while the 2008 Server capabilities are still in beta. While the 2008 version is still in “development,” a parallel development is in progress for the Windows 2012 version.
Amazon, on the other hand, is currently a few steps ahead of the Google Compute Platform. Amazon EC2 is running Microsoft Windows 2003 R2, 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 RT, which demonstrates Amazon’s commitment and maturity. As an added bonus, it offers a fast and dependable environment for deploying applications based on the Microsoft Web Platform, which includes ASP.NET, AJAX, Silverlight, and IIS, as well as SQL.
Does anyone find it interesting that Microsoft is opening up the platform to its competitors? That does not sound like the Microsoft I grew up with. In fact, this is quite the opposite of the way Microsoft ran its ship before the turn of the century. Yet, this is the Microsoft that a lot of us predicted it would eventually become. In the long run, I believe that Microsoft will earn more with the licensing of its Windows Servers running on the likes of Amazon and Google. This immediately adds millions of new potential customers for Microsoft License Mobility. This may directly affect the Microsoft Azure platform’s ability to sustain continued growth. It will be especially true when both Google and Amazon perfect their systems’ ability to present Microsoft instances as platforms, applications, or servers themselves.
I have watched Microsoft swing in both directions on the proverbial pendulum, so to speak. One thing I have noticed over the years is that no matter where you look on the pendulum’s arc, Microsoft has been a technology leader. It continues to demonstrate that when it puts its mind and resources into something, there are really no limits to what it can accomplish and build. Microsoft Azure is just one of the latest. With Microsoft’s strong, if not dominant, footprint in the data center, would any cloud offering be complete without including Microsoft products and services? Taking Google and Amazon as an example, I would venture to say that no, it would not be complete without being able to run Microsoft instances. Oh, the irony in IT.