Red Dog: Ray Ozzie’s answer to the Google App Engine?

051504CliffordBigRedDog (Note: while we’ve been serving up a number of potential new Windows Live logos recently, this isn’t one of them.  I just happen to like Clifford the Big Red Dog)

Much has been made recently about last night’s announcement of the Google App Engine, along with some discussion of the seeming lack of a counterpart coming from Microsoft.  For those of you not accustomed to frequent visits to Techmeme, Google App Engine is, according to the Google App Engine Blog:

…a developer tool that enables you to run your web applications on Google’s infrastructure. The goal is to make it easy to get started with a new web app, and then make it easy to scale when that app reaches the point where it’s receiving significant traffic and has millions of users.
Google App Engine gives you access to the same building blocks that Google uses for its own applications, making it easier to build an application that runs reliably, even under heavy load and with large amounts of data. (…) Google App Engine packages these building blocks and takes care of the infrastructure stack, leaving you more time to focus on writing code and improving your application.

Amazon has a similar service, although perhaps not as neatly bundled, called EC2.  So with all the talk from Microsoft about cloud services, what are they up to?  Well we did a little digging, and although nothing specific has been announced yet (and we don’t have a timetable), new set of services, part of Ray Ozzie’s four layer platform of services,  is indeed being readied.  One of these, the Microsoft Utility Computing Platform, code named Red Dog, sounds very much like a platform for building a  Google App Engine type service (except maybe quite a bit better).  In a job posting for an SDET, the Cloud Infrastructure Services (CIS) team has provided us with some of the juicy tidbits we found.  The posting itself is a little dense, written to appeal to seasoned developers looking for new challenges.  But to paraphrase a bit, here’s what the (CIS) team is building with Red Dog:

  • an “efficient, virtualized” environment
  • a “fully automated service management system” (like the Google App Engine, you won’t have to worry about managing the system)
  • on “highly scalable” storage services (you only use the storage you need)
  • the service will “scale to millions of machines” across Microsoft’s data centers (geo-located, easy to maintain data centers, remember?)  
  • “will lead the marketplace as the best platform for rapid development, deployment, and maintenance of internet services and applications”
  • SDK and tools will be included for external and internal customers
  • V1 for external customers in the coming year

We don’t know a whole lot more about Red Dog at this point, or even, truthfully, how closely a go to market product will resemble the Google App Engine.  But the job posting, along with some other indications, seem to point to a Microsoft response sometime “in the coming year”.  Clifford will be so happy.