by Peter Galli on August 31, 2010 08:54am

Microsoft is participating at VMworld in San Francisco again this week, where we have a booth and where we will be talking about and showing customers how to move to the agile, responsive world of cloud computing and Microsoft's solution, Windows Azure, which is an open platform on which applications written in .NET, PHP, or Java can run.

You may be wondering why Microsoft is participating at VMworld, but the answer is really simple: a large number of our customers are attending the show who run Windows Server, Microsoft server applications, such as Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, as well as Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Microsoft Office.

It is also important for customers to  understand that virtualization is no longer the final destination, but rather a stepping stone toward the more agile, responsive world of open cloud computing, which is creating a transformative change and opportunity for customers and partners.

Microsoft's desktop and datacenter virtualization solutions let customers extend their existing investments, and build and manage public and private cloud solutions on their terms, and Microsoft partners have the best opportunity to profit by delivering server and desktop virtualization solutions, while helping customers adopt cloud computing.

As such, you may have seen our Open Letter in today's edition of USA Today, from Brad Anderson, a Corporate Vice President in Microsoft's Server & Tools Business, which reminds customers that with the arrival of cloud computing, VMware cannot provide them with the breadth of technology, flexibility or scale that they will need to build a complete cloud computing environment.

"Virtualization clearly played a role in enabling the move toward IT services by simplifying the deployment and management of desktops and datacenters, which is why we made virtualization part of Windows Server.  However, virtualization represents only a stepping stone towards cloud computing," he said.

Windows Azure also lets organizations migrate legacy applications and roll out new programs written in .NET, Java, Ruby-on-Rails, PHP and Eclipse across multiple datacenters so they are accessible at scale from almost anywhere,  Anderson said.

He also noted that Microsoft's server virtualization solution is approximately one-third the cost of a comparable solution from VMware, and that a recent Microsoft study of 150 large companies showed those running Microsoft virtualization spent 24% less on IT labor, on an ongoing basis. 

"Most importantly, as you build out the next generation of your IT environment, we can provide you with scalable world-wide public cloud computing services that VMware does not offer," Anderson said in the letter.

Other top Microsoft executives have also reiterated the company's commitment to Windows Azure, Microsoft's open cloud offering. Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie told attendees at the company's Professional Developers Conference 2009 in Los Angeles last November that Windows Azure supports any kind of Windows code and programming model, and any kind of multi-role, multi-tier service design pattern, supporting extremely flexible binding and arbitrary relationships between roles.

"Because you wanted it, we've broadened far beyond just the .NET programming model, and the Web role, worker role service design pattern. We added support for FastCGI, enabling high scale Web apps to be written in any of a variety of programming languages ... You'll see PHP apps under MySQL," he said at the time.

Microsoft has also enabled .NET full trust and native code applications on Windows Azure. This functionality allowed developers to spawn xcopy deployable processes and, as a result, Java applications can now be packaged and run.

As an open platform, the Windows Azure platform allows developers to use multiples languages and development tools to build applications. With its standards-based and interoperable approach, the Windows Azure platform supports multiple Internet protocols including HTTP, XML, SOAP and REST.

Late last year Microsoft introduced the open source PHP SDK for Windows Azure, which focuses on REST and provides PHP classes for Windows Azure blobs, tables and queue, helper classes for HTTP transport, AuthN/AuthZ, REST and error management, as well as manageability, instrumentation and logging support.

Bob Muglia, the President of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business, also noted in his keynote at PDC 2009 that Microsoft is converging on a common developer platform for both servers and services, that will enable developers to continue using familiar .NET Framework and Visual Studio tools and technologies, as well as third party tools such as Eclipse, to create and monetize applications that run on the server and as services in the cloud.

Muglia also announced the company's plan to offer Windows Server Virtual Machine support on Windows Azure, enabling customers to more easily support virtualized infrastructure across the continuum of on premises and cloud computing.

In addition, Muglia announced the new release of ASP.NET MVC beta 2, a free, fully-supported framework that enables developers to rapidly build standards-based Web applications through rich AJAX integration and enhanced extensibility.

The Windows Azure team also recently posted a new video to MSDN on how to create and run a Java application in Windows Azure. In the video, Scott Golightly creates a simple Java application that runs under Apache Tomcat, and then shows how that can be packaged up and deployed to the Windows Azure development fabric.