I specifically held off on writing a post about Amazon's new Windows based EC2 service because I (like everyone else in the tech blogosphere) knew this was coming...

Microsoft layed out its “Azure” foundational infrastructure for the cloud during the keynote kick-off on day one of the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) here in Los Angeles. The goal of Azure is to provide developers who want to write applications that run partially and/or entirely in a remote datacenter with a platform and set of tools.

Microsoft did not disclose pricing, licensing or timing details for Azure. The company is planning to release a Community Technology Preview (CTP) test build of Azure to PDC attendees on October 27. (The CTP consists of a software development kit and access to Microsoft’s cloud.

Now that I've seen Microsoft's plan...I think I have to give the nod to Amazon's Cloud based solution. 

There's a lot to like about Microsoft Azure but I just don't think that's what people want anymore.  They don't want to buy into some "grand vision" or to write their programs for a proprietary, locked in system.  That's what Azure seems to be.  It's basically its own proprietary abstraction layer with a bunch of equally proprietary services available to use.

On the other hand, what Amazon does is simply to give you a server in the cloud.  It acts and works just like a server you'd have on your desktop and should you ever choose to move your application back to your own server you could do so almost effortlessly.  That, to me, seems like the way to go and I don't think the value of such a setup can be overestimated.

Cloud Computing is a boon but at the same time a lot of things can go wrong and you simply don't want to tie yourself to one vendor.  Because what happens when that vendor gets overwhelmed and you start to see performance problems, or they institute terms you can't live with, or any of a thousand other scenarios.  I'm in favor of cloud computing but lets remember what it is: Your application running on someone else's computers.

Computers they can do whatever they please with.

Again, I don't want to be too hard on Azure.  It's certainly possible that this is just so visionary that I can't see the beauty of it as of yet.  It is actual laid out quite nicely.  It essentially ties all of the myriad of services that Microsoft has been rolling out since Ray Ozzie came on board into one coherent system that can be used quickly and easily.  But again, to take advantage of it you have to buy into Mr. Ozzie's vision of the future and tie yourself to it. 

In today's technology climate I simply don't see that as a realistic option.