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Amazon To Host Microsoft Solutions in the Cloud

Amazon announced on Wednesday that it is conducting a private beta test of Microsoft's server products running on Amazon's hosted computing platform, which is called Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Amazon expects to offer companies the ability to run their applications on EC2 using Microsoft Windows Server or Microsoft SQL Server sometime in the fall, according to an announcement issued by the company.

The EC2 platform currently runs applications using various UNIX-based operating systems, but Amazon says that the "ability to run a Windows environment within Amazon EC2 has been one of our most requested features." The announcement added that EC2 is "ideal" for running ASP.NET-based Web sites and "high performance computing clusters."

Amazon's announcement comes as Microsoft officials hint at their own Internet cloud computing plans. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly told a TechNet audience in London on Oct. 1 that Microsoft will announce a "Windows Cloud" in four week's time. Such an announcement would coincide roughly with Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, which is slated for Oct. 27.

One of Microsoft's competitors in the Internet cloud-computing space is Google, with its Google Apps and Google Gears applications, but Ballmer reportedly said that Google "doesn't have much for enterprise."

It's not clear what a Microsoft Windows cloud offering would look like. However, veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley has offered some guesses. Candidates for disclosure at the PDC event include a project code-named "Red Dog" that Foley describes as a "low-level cloud OS." Other components to the platform might include Zurich, a cloud computing .NET extension, and elements such as the "Velocity distributed caching technology," plus SQL Server Data Services, she wrote.

Microsoft, for its part, has been quietly building out datacenters and already offers some of its own products as hosted solutions, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Dynamics CRM Online. In addition, the company rolled out a data synchronization solution in April called Live Mesh that promises to move data across the Internet cloud to various devices, regardless of the platform.

Microsoft's cloud computing talk comes even as others have been pushing back against the term. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison last week told the Wall Street Journal that cloud computing was "complete gibberish." Free Software Foundation Founder Richard Stallman dismissed cloud computing as "a marketing hype campaign" in an interview published on Monday.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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