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Microsoft PDC 09: The pressure's on

In the past, Microsoft has used its Professional Developers Conference to talk pie in the sky. Promises made one year for the next typically dribbled out months, even years late and functionally short. Longhorn anyone?

That can’t happen anymore.  With PDC 2009 kicking off this week, Microsoft  has precious little time to make good on Azure promises. It’s playing catchup with uber-nemesis Google and — perhaps more importantly — to Amazon which has real-world cloud services out and functioning now for real, paying customers.

Microsoft’s  public Azure plan calls for continued free beta use of current services till year’s end. It will start charging for said services February 1, 2010. Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie (or “silent Ray”  as he’s been dubbed by some wags in the press) should have news in his Tuesday PDC keynote.

Put it this way: He’d better.

Microsoft’s cloud competitors are already making noise going into the event.

On Friday, Amazon helpfully dropped a note to reporters on Friday to remind them of various Amazon Web Services (AWS) landmarks.Like how  AWS’ EC2, S3, SimpleDB, Relational Database Service, Simple Queue Service et al  will be available in Asia-Pacific region in the first half of next year:

Oh, and how the AWS SDK for .NET makes it a breeze for Windows developers to build .NET applications for AWS.

(A cynic might think that Amazon’s SDK news in early October was a reaction to Microsoft’s announcement a few weeks before about its Eclipse-oriented Azure tools.  By bringing Eclipse developers into the Azure fold, Microsoft can claim to embrace non-Microsoft development tools and Microsoft wants all developers programming for Azure. A real cynic might think Microsoft heard word of the Amazon announcement and rushed what was going to be a PDC Eclipse announcement out early. But I digress. )

In its post Friday, Amazon also points out that AWS  has “successfully completed a Statement on Auditing Standards No. 80 (SAS70) Type II Audit” …. You get the picture.

And then there’s Google, which is winning some paying accounts–well at least one paying account for Google Apps Premier Edition. But it’s a big one: Los Angeles is paying $7.2 million for Google to run municipal email in a secure “government cloud.” Google beat Microsoft out there and don’t think they’ll let anyone forget it.  (Unless there’s a melt down and Messrs. Schmidtet al will quickly change the subject.)

So, no pressure for Ozzie and his cohort in LA this week and in the market for the rest of this year. No pressure at all.

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Amazon's Redshift announcement validates that enterprises are ready for cloud-based big data warehousing solutions. XtremeData, also available on Amazon as well as other clouds, is targeted for organizations that need a massively scalable DBMS solution for mixed read and write workloads, for example, with serious ELT. Redshift (a column-store licensed from ParAccel) is well-suited for read-only data marts of all sizes. The market is rapidly moving to a tipping point where the specialized solutions available on premise are becoming available on the cloud, Amazon and others.