CEO Steve Ballmer's hints at a Windows Web operating system have materialized as Windows Azure. More of a service than an operating system, Azure lets Windows developers write Web-based software that can use existing Microsoft Windows and Office technologies in conjunction with Windows Live websites. See a pattern? No wonder free-software zealot Richard Stallman hates it.
Web hosting? So 1990s. Rackspace is now into "cloud computing." The company has acquired Slicehost, a small but popular virtual private server host, and JungleDisk, an online-storage startup. The deals comes as Rackspace is pushing its Mosso service as an alternative to Amazon.com's computing-power rental offerings. The question is now this, will Rackspace bring their world-class downtime to both services?
PBS pundit Robert X. Cringely says he realized at last week's MIT Technology Review conference that cloud computing means, in short, "No database." Cringely sees it as the end of Oracle's dominance of information technology. I expect Oracle Cloud any day now. Here's a summary of Cringely's long article, plus the joke about Ellison's sex life, minus Cringely's references to himself:
This morning, Steve Ballmer promised Windows Cloud, a set of Web-based applications that would enable "light editing" of MS Office docs and who knows what else — he didn't say. It's probably no coincidence that Amazon announced its own sort of Windows Cloud today: Customers will be able to run Windows Server and SQL Server via Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Amazon CTO Werner Vogels blogged an explanation:
Windows Cloud, outlined briefly by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at a conference in London this morning, is a separate project from Windows 7, the successor to Vista. Ballmer didn't say much, claiming he didn't want to spoil the official announcement. But he made it clear that sorry, no, Microsoft won't be moving to a fully browser-based version of its Office applications. Rather, Windows Cloud will let road warriors do what Ballmer called "light editing" at, say, a public Internet workstation or kiosk. Ballmer dubbed the concept "software plus services," as opposed to a full software-as-a-service product. Sounds like the plan is to do just enough to keep Office customers from switching to Google Docs. (Photo by AFP/Artyom Korotayev)
Hoping to encourage cooperative computing on the Web, the Electronic Frontier Foundation offered a $100,000 prize to anyone who could come up with a prime number with more than 10 million digits. A government-funded state university, UCLA, will claim the prize, rather than some promising amateur using distributed Web computing. UCLA researchers discovered a 13 million-digit prime number, using a dedicated network of 75 computers running Windows XP. The EFF's generous donation will increase UCLA's $1.5 billion endowment by .007 percent. (Photo by cleong)
"One reason you should not use Web applications to do your computing is that you lose control" of the email, photos and other data in your account, GNU founder Richard Stallman told the Guardian's website. "We've redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do ... it's a marketing hype campaign" designed to ensare people into becoming locked-in customers of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or whoever else holds their hard-to-transfer digital property. Don't you just hate it when Stallman's right? But his proposed alternative — "Do your own computing on your own computer" — is about as likely as getting people to churn their own butter. (Photo by Paolo Colonnello)
"The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women’s fashion." So says Larry Ellison, who told analysts yesterday that "other than change the wording of some of our ads," the company has no plans to make any actual changes to its business in order to jump on the cloud-computing bandwagon. Really, Ellison needs to get another monkey to do the infomercial thing on stage — he's far more charming when he's being rude but honest. [WSJ] (Photo by AP/Paul Sakuma)
Of 49 Google products, 22 are still in beta — not including anything released under Google Labs. In technology parlance, a beta product is one that is still being tested. In fact, Google's even charging users of Google Apps for Your Domain money for both Gmail and Google Docs. So why the beta tag? My theory is it's an easy way to keep from having to offer customer support when problems arise, since beta also traditionally means "use at your own risk." [Royal Pingdom]
Click to viewAnnoyed by professional "futurists" and their soft, fluffy visions of cloud computing? Think your old rack-mounted server is bulletproof? Then watch as Dr. GoGrid lays waste to hardware from Dell, HP and Sun with an AK-47. Even if you aren't an IT grunt, just enjoy as beige plastic and green circuit boards are blasted into particulate. Trust me, it's cathartic.
The latest report from the Pew Internet survey machine says, "69 percent of online Americans use webmail services, store data online, or use software programs such as word processing applications whose functionality is located on the Web." What they really mean is: A lot of people use Hotmail. But while the 69 percent number overstates the case, there are some surprising stats in the details:
"I think operating systems are kind of an old way to think of the world," Google cofounder Sergey Brin told a klatsch of reporters after the Mountain View ad agency's song-and-dance routine to announce its new browser, Chrome. Brin is a little older than me, which I find surprising — not because I'm so old, but because even I remember the days before there really was a personal computer on every desk (and on every lap, and in every pocket). What was there?
Microsoft's thirst for new markets is requiring massive hardware to back up its dreams, especially the ones dealing with clouds. It's adding 10,000 servers a month. At its new Chicago data center, it's using an interesting method for growth. Using server farms self-contained in shipping containers, it stacks and racks them like Legos, swapping out the entire container when the servers fail. Microsoft will open similar data centers in Chicago, San Antonio, and Dublin, Ireland. [News.com]
Michael Dell will not get paid every time you say "cloud computing." The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has finally shut down Dell's attempt to trademark the phrase "cloud computing" late last week. Earlier in the week, the USPTO reversed a decision letting Dell proceed with its trademark request. [The Register]
Dell's recent attempt to register the term "cloud computing" as a trademark has taken on one small hitch. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently reversed its decision to grant a "Notice of Allowance" — a written notification that a specific mark has survived the opposition period following publication — and is reviewing Dell's request once more. Maybe Dell will have better luck selling its MP3 players. [Sam Johnston]
The PC megamaker quietly obtained trademark protection last month for the term "cloud computing." U.S. law says that as soon as Dell begins using the term, it owns the trademark and can force other companies to stop using it. But realistically, would you try to sell "cloud computing" to Wal-mart shoppers? Dell's move will probably backfire by forcing other companies to come up with a more appealing term for the technology. Everybody wins!