Choose your route to cloud computing

Microsoft and Google have both unveiled their plans for cloud computing.

Azure is Microsoft’s attempt to bridge the gap between desktop and cloud-based computing. The idea behind it is that applications developed using a common Windows programming model can be run either in-house or as a cloud service.

Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie describes this as “giving customers choice”. Clearly, this is a well thought out strategy. Microsoft is late into the market, but Azure promises to offer software developers and enterprises a way to migrate some of their existing Windows applications into the cloud, while keeping others on site.

Google has taken the opposite approach with Chrome OS. Its starting point is that all applications are Javascript-based web applications, accessible via a web browser. It says Chrome OS will run these applications more efficiently than a browser because it has been designed to make the most of hardware such as graphics accelerators, multicore architectures and multimedia peripherals. In theory, this means web applications can provide as rich a user experience as Windows 7 or MacOS X without the need for a runtime environment such as Adobe Flash Player or Microsoft Silverlight.

Unlike Microsoft, which has blurred the distinction between the desktop, server and the cloud, all Chrome OS data and applications reside in the cloud. Local storage is only provided to support offline working. Once an internet connection is established, Chrome OS automatically synchronises data using cloud storage.

Both approaches are valid. Azure is compelling for users happy with Windows, but who want the option to use cloud-based services. Chrome OS is an operating system for cloud computing. If IT directors accept that cloud computing is the future of IT, then Google seems like a good bet.

Whatever approach you take, the landscape of corporate IT has changed. Businesses cannot afford to ignore the impact of cloud computing on how applications and services are delivered.

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Interesting article. It certainly gives us some things to think about, but I don't agree that Chrome OS/Google cloud and Windows OS/Windows Azure makes a good comparison.

(Just a quick note: While the author doesn't explicitly state it, Chrome OS will primarily use Google Apps for its hosted applications.)

There are a couple of problems with this comparison.
First, Windows Azure is an application/cloud computing platform. It is not an extension of Windows. Google's equivalent is the Google App Engine (not the same as Google Apps, by the way).

A better comparison to Chrome OS/Google Apps would be Windows/Microsoft's Office Web Apps (https://bit.ly/OfficeWebApps). Office Web Apps, like Google Apps, IS meant to be a cloud computing extension of the desktop.

The second problem is the following paragraph and its conclusion:
> Both approaches are valid. Azure is
> compelling for users happy with Windows,
> but who want the option to use cloud-based
> services. Chrome OS is an operating system
> for cloud computing. If IT directors accept
> that cloud computing is the future of IT,
> then Google seems like a good bet."

This conclusion does not logically follow. If cloud computing is the future of IT, BOTH Google and Microsoft can be good bets. Windows users can do cloud computing, as their sole form of computing, just as Chrome OS users can.

Perhaps Microsoft will, at some point, come out with a thin client that relies on Office Web Apps just as Chrome OS relies on Google Apps. However, even before that happens, Windows is certainly a viable client for cloud computing. Plus, it has the advantage of being a rich client, if a hybrid solution is desired.

(I am contracted by M80, working with Microsoft to promote Windows Azure)
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Thanks four your feedback Jason. The web is full of comparisons of Google Chrome OS and how it will kill off Windows desktop OS. I started out thinking about how both MS and Google announced cloud offerings last week. Yes I agree Chrome OS is a client OS for Google Apps and MS Azure provides a platform for cloud computing. But from the apps MS has shown so far, Azure is providng ISVs and enterprise IT with a good way to connect remote users and distributed sites to enterprise applications running over the internet.I think Azure could be used to develop enterprise apps that can be accessed by PC users through the internet cloud. MS looks like it is working from the server side, while Google has focussed on the client.
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