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Ozzie on Azure: It all comes down to trust

In an interview, Ray Ozzie says that businesses will be taking a risk by placing core operations in Microsoft's data center--but that Redmond has more to lose if things go bad.

LOS ANGELES--Microsoft has to do more than just convince businesses that it has the right vision with Windows Azure, its burgeoning take on cloud computing, according to Ray Ozzie, the company's chief software architect. Fundamentally, it has to get them to place a huge amount of trust in the software provider.

Ray Ozzie
Ray Ozzie Ina Fried/CNET News

"Cloud computing is ultimately going to be, do you trust this provider to have more to lose than I have to lose as a company if they mess me up?" Ozzie said in an interview with CNET News here Monday at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference.

Ozzie said that Microsoft is well-positioned to garner that trust, both because of the scale of its investments as well as the fact it is putting its own applications on top of this same infrastructure.

"Microsoft has both the capacity to invest and the willingness to be in that kind of a business and to give that kind of trust assurance to developers and to enterprises," he said.

Some types of things will move more quickly than others, in Ozzie's view.

"Infrastructure will be a no-brainer," he said. "The things where there isn't unique business value added to a given system--e-mail infrastructure is a good example, phones, live meetings. As long as we achieve the performance objectives and cost objectives... I see no reason why those won't move very quickly to the cloud."

Core business software won't get migrated so quickly, he said.

"In terms of business applications, it's really going to take longer... for a variety of reasons, including the risk profile," Ozzie said. "Some companies might do it quickly."

As for developers, Ozzie said some of their skills will translate, but applications will have to be rewritten.

"The day-to-day writing of code will translate fairly readily," Ozzie said. "Things that are fundamentally different tend to be at the application framework level. The fundamental assumption in Windows Azure is that there is no single point of failure. No computer by going down will take down your application. If your app is not written in that way...then fundamentally the application pattern does have to change."

Most applications will not run that way out of the box, he said. Those that have used Amazon's Web services will probably be further along than those simply used to writing traditional Windows applications.

"For somebody who has used (Amazon) EC2," he said, "it will be a lot easier to get up to speed because there are some of the concepts that are carried across."

The full Q&A is here: "What Ray Ozzie sees in Azure's cloud." See below for a video interview.

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