Windows Azure: Misunderstood or Misguided?
Among the world’s developers, Microsoft has a perception problem, writes Wired Enterpise editor Cade Metz. Judging from interviews with myriad coders over the past several months, Azure isn’t just off the Silicon Valley radar. It’s misunderstood. It’s misunderstood not only by the younger generation of coders who grew up on open source software and such languages as Ruby and Python. It’s misunderstood by many developers who have a long history with Microsoft development tools, Metz writes.
One example from the post:
Jeremy Howard sees Silicon Valley as an echo chamber. He recently moved to Northern California from Australia, looking to improve the fortunes of his startup, an ingenious operation known as Kaggle, and he soon found that most Silicon Valley software developers behaved like other Silicon Valley software developers. “In this echo chamber which is the [San Francisco] Bay Area, unless you follow what everyone else does, then there’s an assumption that you don’t know what you’re doing,” Howard says.
Silicon Valley types think that Jeremy Howard doesn’t know what he’s doing because he runs Kaggle on Windows Azure, Microsoft’s new-age cloud service that lets you build and operate massive applications without setting up your own hardware. Kaggle once ran on Amazon EC2 — the most popular cloud in the Valley and across the rest of the world — but a year ago, the company switched to Azure because it dovetails so nicely with Microsoft’s .NET development platform and its accompanying C# programming language, tools often treated with scorn by the Bay Area hackerati.
Howard tells Metz that in the Valley, most developers build their applications with Ruby on Rails, Python, or “if they’re a bit boring,” Java, and they look at him funny when he says that Kaggle uses Azure. “People say, ‘Oh, I’ll have to teach you about Java sometime, so then you’ll know the bright side.’ But I can code in somewhere between 16 and 18 languages, and I can assure you there is nothing like C#.”
But Microsoft is determined to change these perceptions — so determined that it’s embracing open source software and other technologies that it actively shunned in the past, Metz writes. Azure now runs such big-name open source platforms as Node.js and Hadoop, and though the world doesn’t seem to realize it, Microsoft’s cloud service has long handled development tools other than .NET and C#, including Java, Ruby, PHP, and Python.
Have a read of the full story, then weigh in: Has Microsoft changed, and is it simply misunderstood as not a cloud company? Is Azure looking better, and is Microsoft’s willingness to customize its cloud an asset or a worry? Is fear of lock-in making folks shun Microsoft justified?