At PDC: Microsoft's Muglia talks about Azure Platform as a Service advances

Kathleen Kriz

Windows Azure as platform for applications gained attention last week at Microsoft’s PDC in Redmond, Wash. Platform as a Service [PaaS] is where the future of the cloud computing resides, said Bob Muglia, President of Server and Tools Business for Microsoft.

On hand with Muglia at a PDC keynote were representatives of Pixar Animation Studios who are using Windows Azure as a platform to run complex animation jobs in an effort to reduce back-end infrastructure costs.

“I think it's very clear that that [Platform as a Service ] is where the future of applications will go,” said Muglia. “PaaS will redefine the landscape, and Microsoft is very focused on this.''

"This is where we're putting the majority of our focus in terms of delivering a new platform and of course that platform is Windows Azure,” he said.

One advantage of Microsoft's approach to PaaS, according to Muglia, is the system's ability to realize when failure will happen, so it can help to keep the application running.

“Windows Azure was designed to run as the next generation PaaS,” said Muglia.“It is an operating system that was designed for this environment.”

The Azure cloud platform is an exciting development for Pixar, which just released Toy Story 3.

According to Chris Ford, Pixar’s RenderMan Business Director, the company has created a proof-of-concept that places its RenderMan software on Azure. The Pixar software, which allows for images to be created at high levels of photorealism, is written in C++, and, using Azure, can be made available more broadly within the film industry, according to Ford. He said Azure makes it possible for users to push large jobs through a lot faster, and elasticity, the ability to rapidly scale-up and scale-down, allows for easy changes.

“We have directors, we have designers, and they just love to change things, they just love to tweak things, normally right up in front of the deadline,” explained Ford. “And the elasticity of the cloud offers the potential to essentially be able to accommodate those changes very close to the deadline.”

“With Windows Azure,” said Muglia. “What we're doing is enabling you to take your existing applications to places that they've never been able to go to before. Today what we're about at the PDC is giving you a lot of information to make you ready.”

Other aspects of Azure were discussed in Mugila's keynote, including use of Team Foundation Server on Azure, supporting Java and Eclipse on Azure, Odata, the Data Marketplace (formerly Dallas) and Azure composition fabric features intended to meet development needs.

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