Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Amazon, the King of the Cloud Computing (Nasdaq: AMZN) is the king of cloud computing. Two very smart guys just said so: Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital and Ray Ozzie of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT).

Gurley I met live, at his office overlooking Stanford University, during an "innovation tour" of Silicon Valley with my Rule Breakers teammates. He had just bought shares of Amazon, explaining that the retailer can be a low-cost leader in cloud computing services.

Ozzie, Mr. Softy's chief software architect, is less a fan than an admiring rival. On Monday, he said that "all of us are going to be standing on [Amazon's] shoulders" in introducing Windows Azure, a cloud computing environment that CEO Steve Ballmer foreshadowed earlier this month.

The technical idea is intriguing. Windows Azure runs applications and resembles Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud in that it's a massive cluster of processing horsepower made available via the Web. A "Fabric Controller" governs the environment -- parsing storage and CPU cycles, among other things -- in a manner that should seem familiar to those who follow VMware (NYSE: VMW).

But, even if it sounds like it, the Fabric Controller isn't Hyper-V, the single-server virtualization technology that competes with ESXi, a free product from VMware. The Fabric Controller will instead work on a massive scale, coordinating the cloud like Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) algorithm coordinates a global network of servers to search queries. Or how Akamai's (Nasdaq: AKAM) algorithms deconstruct and then reassemble data to deliver it fast over the Web.

Motley Fool reporting

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