> Archive > Issue XLVI: January 2011 > SOA Pioneers Interview Series: Microsoft and Cloud Computing
Amy Chou

Amy Chou


Amy Chou is a freelance Communications Editor. She has managed various publications, including issues of the SOA Magazine, and has overseen social-media platforms for the SOA and Cloud Symposium event series. As an IT journalist, Amy develops and maintains podcasts for which she conducts interviews and engineers the recordings. Amy is further responsible for various Web and marketing design initiatives and acts as a liaison between marketing and technology research groups.


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David Chou

David Chou


David Chou is an Architect in the Developer & Platform Evangelism organization at Microsoft, focused on collaborating with enterprises and organizations in many areas such as cloud computing, SOA, Web, RIA, distributed systems, security, etc., and supporting decision makers on defining evolutionary strategies in architecture. David is the co-author of the book "SOA with .NET & Azure" for the Prentice Hall Service-Oriented Computing Series from Thomas Erl.

As an expert on Windows Azure Platform, Silverlight, .NET, and the broad Microsoft platform, plus Java and many open-source platforms, David is often tasked to provide guidance on how "Software plus Services" fit in heterogeneous environments according to specific enterprise needs and organizational requirements, while mapping to emerging trends and best practices. Drawing on experiences from his previous jobs at Sun Microsystems and Accenture, David enjoys helping customers create value from using objective and pragmatic approaches to define IT strategies, roadmaps, and solution architectures. customers create value from using objective and pragmatic approaches to define IT strategies, roadmaps, and solution architectures.


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SOA Pioneers Interview Series: Microsoft and Cloud Computing

Published: January 14, 2011 • SOA Magazine Issue XLVI PDF

Exclusive Interview with David Chou

This interview podcast features David Chou, program committee member for the 2nd International Cloud Symposium, and architect in the Developer & Platform Evangelism organization at Microsoft. This discussion delves into David's role at Microsoft, different products that are in the works, and Microsoft's unique approach to cloud computing. David's co–authorship with the upcoming "SOA with Java" and the recently released "SOA with .Net & Windows Azure" books are also covered, revealing some interesting facts about both. We also get a teaser on David's presentation, "Architecting Cloudy Applications". Make sure to tune in and find out more from David himself!

SOA Magazine: My first question for you today is what your role is with Microsoft. Could you tell us what you do there and what your department in Microsoft is up to?

David Chou: As you mentioned, I am an architect at Microsoft. My role as an architect and I work in an organization of Microsoft called "The Developer and Platform Evangelism Group". What we do as part of this group is that we have a lot of different charters. But in general, what we are trying to do is we try to help people what Microsoft has to offer in terms of the technologies that we have and where they can be applied – whether it's to a startup, Web Company or to an enterprise – and how they can be used in these scenarios. So we are actually on the front line; interacting with customers and helping them understand – based on their needs – wherever they are and whatever stage they are in, and trying to figure out if there is a ... Microsoft has to offer. So we are not sales (which is a good thing) in terms of we don't have to go to customers for that motive to sell or to get them to buy things. Most of the time, we actually help customers understand what Microsoft has to offer even beyond sales and we do have quite a few things, for example there is ... beyond the products and we have a lot of free stuff as well, even products that gives means without having to pay. But beyond that, we have programs too. For example, we have a program called "Biz Spark" that can help startups build their business that Microsoft have without having them to pay. So there are a lot of things that we interact with the customers in many levels and in many different ways, ... but in general, ...we are focusing on helping customers succeed.

SOA Magazine: I noticed that Windows Azure is the cloud computing platform from Microsoft; could you explain in more details what it is about?

David Chou: Windows Azure is one of the most interesting things from Microsoft in recent years. It's a little bit different from what we have done before. In a nutshell, there's a lot of different views on cloud computing and Microsoft provides offerings to all these different categories. And what I mean by that are some of these standard definitions around public cloud, private cloud, and also software Azure services, platform Azure services, and infrastructure Azure services. So just the very high level ones.

Microsoft is actually, from a cloud company perspective, delivering offerings across the entire spectrum. Now Windows Azure falls into the platform Azure service area and primarily is the public cloud offering. What we are doing with Windows Azure is our position on the Windows Azure is that it's really sort of the fine–tune definition of cloud computing in terms of the computing themselves. What we mean by that is cloud computing is not really just a virtualized Azure hosting. That's how Windows Azure was developed to be a platform as a service as opposed to just another hosting environment for ... The high level to describe application platform that runs in the ... that people can use to build applications without having to worry about infrastructure.

SOA Magazine: How is Microsoft positioning itself and distinguishing itself in the cloud computing industry with Windows Azure?

David Chou: Good question. I'll start with the higher level answer first in taking a look at what Microsoft is doing in the cloud computing space holistically. Because I think that is actually our differential point. From the Microsoft perspective, what we differentiate from is the, as I mentioned earlier, the comprehensive set of offerings across the entire spectrum. There's not that many company that actually offers the entire set of solutions across public cloud, private cloud, infrastructure, platform, and software Azure service. We have solution offerings to problems across the whole spectrum.

We actually have very optimized solutions as opposed to running software everywhere. We have solutions and offerings that are specifically designed to optimize for that space. For example, with Windows Azure platform, I mentioned earlier that it's not just a hosting environment. It's actually very targeted at platform Azure service. Some of the points we try to make is to enable agility for a customer. What that means, in a nutshell with a Windows Azure platform, all you need to do is upload your ... and data and you will have a database driven website or application running in a cloud. You don't have to do anything else in terms of, for example, locking to your server, configuring or provisioning with the server, and do things with the servers. So there's nothing you have to do with the servers. All you need to deal with is Windows Azure fabricating environment in terms of uploading your application and asset and data, and we will provision resources to run these things for you. That's kind of what we think we are trying to distinguish from the cloud computing ... is first of all, is the comprehensive holistic set of offerings that we have and make sure in each area is the best solution instead of doing the same thing everything.

... kind of how Microsoft operated before is every single customer has different needs and requirements. We don't go to customers with a ... approach. Sometimes people complain about there are too many options and too much complexity for them to figure out. But at the end of the day, it's kind of looking at automobile manufacturer perspective. We are like a Toyota where we have a lot of diff models and diff choices, versus perhaps a Ferrari, where you have fewer choices but very designed choices.

SOA Magazine: I'm sure a lot of people would be interested to know why somebody who is working for Microsoft, is also working on co-authoring a Java book (which is the upcoming "SOA with Java" book). Can you tell us more about what that has been like?

David Chou: Currently, I'm employed by Microsoft, but that doesn't mean solely by Microsoft. There is one of my previous employers from Sun Microsystems. I can actually say that throughout my career, I have actually spent more time with the Java path than I have with anything else. Personally, I have another best interest, which is making sure that Java can succeed. And I want to continue with my own competency and skillset around Java. The experience around working with the book was very nice. I got to extend a lot of things that I did with the "SOA with .NET" book and contribute with "SOA with Java" book in terms of the cloud computing content. I added a lot of information about Windows Azure and cloud computing in the "SOA with .NET" book and I am doing the same thing with the SOA with JAVA as well.

SOA Magazine: I read your profile on the SOA & Cloud Symposium [Berlin, October 2010] website and noticed that you'll be involved with a lot of different things, including a few presentations.

David Chou: Sure. One of the sessions, which I am very fortunate to participate in this year's symposium is "Architecting Cloudy Applications". Based on a lot of the concepts that I will talk about at the session, I love to focus on the "Architecting Cloudy Applications" session because I think that a lot of people in the industry don't pay attention to at this moment. Partly, it's because people still think cloud computing is about hosting. But from our perspective, it is not. Hosting is a part of cloud computing; however, if you really want to use all the benefits of cloud computing, you have to architect your applications a little bit differently because the common environment is ultimately different than your traditional premise environment.

What we mean by that is there is a lot of different ways. You have your applications operate in an environment in which you don't have to worry about how much planning for physical acquisition of resources to run these applications. There are many different ways to write the applications; for example, Facebook. How would you write that application when you leverage a cloud platform like Windows Azure? There are a lot of different concerns and desecrations that you can apply to that application and it will help a lot in this paradigm shift. For this session, I plan to discuss common design principles and patterns, and how they can be applied towards applications built on the new breed of platform–as–a–service (PaaS) clouds.

SOA Magazine: Thank you David for taking time to talk with me today. Do you have any closing remarks?

David Chou: Thank you so much. I think that the biggest thing we can look forward to in 2011 and as we move forward in this industry with cloud computing is that there are a lot of different opportunities. Every companies, including Microsoft, deliver many offerings from cloud computing and we probably haven't seen anything interesting yet. So 2011 is going to be a very interesting year for us that play in the cloud computing space. Thanks again, SOA Magazine.