Open source and cloud computing are two development approaches that tech geeks will often laud as “the way of the future.” Certainly, many major companies have stepped through that threshold, allowing for greater degrees of cloud development and a greater appeal to the open source community. Microsoft, one of the biggest guns around, has recently joined with those companies. They have done this in several different ways.
The first and in many ways most important way in which Microsoft is displaying its affection for cloud computing is with their Office 2010 software. While the desktop version (as of July 2010) of the software is not yet available, a beta version of a web accessible Office was released in the first half of 2010. Once finalized, this Microsoft response to Google Docs will be available, free of charge, to all Live users. The possibility of collaborative work on documents, as well as the fact that the basic productivity software will be free, is just the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft has stated greater ambitions, declaring that they intend to revolutionize productivity for their hundreds of millions of users. As far as maintaining financial viability, they will make its extra revenue from businesses or individuals who want to store files, using a system similar to current exchange hosting to store their files.
Exchange hosting itself also shows a step toward cloud computing. After all, much of the functionality of Exchange comes from a cloud computing system which allows groups to share, synchronize, and organize information, without stepping on each other’s toes.
Microsoft has done more than simply use cloud to great effect, however. They have also emerged as an industry leader in providing a programming space for cloud coders, and viable servers for those using utilities that live inside the cloud. Windows Azure, the primary cloud computing platform provided by Microsoft as of July 2010, is a flexible and reliable resource for those with Cloud projects. The primary purpose of Azure is to make sure that the programmed cloud applications have the best possible server platform to ensure maximum speed and resilience, with little to no down time.
Microsoft has already spoken up with regards to actually creating that software, introducing their own “AppFabric.” Windows AppFabric is a set of services, applications, and management utilities that help anyone using or creating Microsoft based cloud programs. The framework provides the perfect testing ground for any programmers, and the combined programming territory given by Microsoft has opened the door to the open source community.
Beyond everything provided directly by Microsoft, other groups using the Microsoft framework, especially through cloud servers, are creating great opportunities for open source groups. Affordable cloud servers, intensely attentive customer support, and more alternatives than ever before, can be equated to the opening of a floodgate for the open source world.
While it may be irritating that cloud obsessed tech gurus now have one more thing to talk about, the Microsoft move toward cloud and open source indicates the culmination of the current paradigm shift. After all, there really aren’t any big guns left who haven’t joined in with this new wave of technologies.