I follow the Database Trends and Applications magazine because it is pretty platform independent, with a section for Oracle, SQL Server and DB/2. I found it interesting that when I turned there yesterday and today, among the top stories are "Cloud" - front and center. It's easy to see why. When we think about technology today, we've got three big "circles" of components like a Venn diagram. In one circle is the "Platform", which includes hardware and the software that runs on it. Developers live here, as do System Administrators and even Data Professionals. In another circle is the "Connectivity", which includes network and security. In yet another circle is "Data", which includes data professionals of course, developers, SAN admins and Sysadmins from file shares to SharePoint.
The first circle - Platform - has all of the hardware in it. That's a capital expense that also has operational expenses, like people that maintain, manage and monitor them. Companies really want to tone that down wherever they can. That's where this whole "Cloud" thing comes into play. The devs are still there, writing apps for the organization. The data specialists are still there, managing and designing data. The network will always be there. But hardware and software? Does your CEO really want to pay to have that laying around? And what about capacity growth and shrink - not easy to manage when you own everything. So many of them are asking you about the Cloud. And you're probably wondering where it fits in.
Well, Microsoft is certainly one of the main players in this area. From Windows Azure, the Application Fabric and SQL Azure, we have real-live offerings you can leverage right now. But is SQL Azure ready? For many applications, yes. No, I don't recommend that you grab your 1 Terrabyte database that has a 500GB ETL process running on it and just toss that unchanged into SQL Azure. I think there's a place for it - and it keeps growing every day. There's a great article over on Softpedia where you can read more about the changes, improvements and enhancements to SQL Azure that we've just released. But here's a side of that you might not have considered: you don't have to do anything to get those improvements. There's no install. There's no patching. To be sure, there is still testing and so on that you need to do, but it just changes and gets better. Certainly this is one argument for the Cloud. Again, it's another tool in the toolbox - not meant to replace every on-premise environment today, but something you should learn about to see where it does fit.
So check out that article, and post your comments here and there. I'm curious about what you think.