Microsoft this week finally laid out its cloud-computing strategy during a keynote speech at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2008.

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, announced Windows Azure, a cloud-based service foundation underlying its Azure Services Platform.

He explained Windows Azure’s role in delivering a software-plus-services approach to computing.

The Azure Services Platform is intended to help developers build the next generation of applications that will span from the cloud to the enterprise data center and deliver compelling new experiences across the PC, web and phone.

Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect, Microsoft

Azure gives Microsoft’s customers the choice of deploying applications via cloud-based Internet services or through on-premises servers, or to combine them in any way that makes the most sense for the needs of their business.

While the much-awaited news makes clear Microsoft’s intentions, how will it affect the storage industry generally?

The Register’s Chris Mellor has no doubt that the move towards a few large providers of cloud computing services will spell trouble for many storage vendors.

Noting that Microsoft has now joined Amazon and Google in offering cloud computing services he cited IDC research, which says cloud computing will grow 16 per cent a year through to 2012.

He points out that by 2012 there could be six major cloud computing suppliers – Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Dell, HP and IBM – with half a million customers each by 2012, meaning 3 million fewer customers directly buying servers and storage for their apps because they’ve been transferred to the Cloud.

While Mellor concedes that the storage industry is seen by some as being "ridiculously over-supplied", he concludes that the news that cloud computing is set to grow is very bad news for the storage industry.

What do you think? Please send us your comment.

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