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Editor's Note

Considering the Cloud

Jeff James

Just about everyone is talking about cloud computing these days, and Microsoft is no exception. Redmond has been positioning its virtualization products as an integral part of the cloud infrastructure, and products and services like the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and Windows Azure Platform should help IT pros make the most of their on-premises and off-premises resources.

As is the case with any new technology, figuring out what works best for your own environment can be a time-consuming task. Karen Forster takes up the challenge in her “ Clearing the Fog Around Cloud Computing” article, which helps clarify when BPOS or Windows Azure may be more suitable for your own IT requirements.

Developers often lead the way when it comes to embracing new platforms and technologies, and the cloud is no exception. Microsoft recently announced the beta release of Windows Azure Drive, a cloud-based service that allows existing Windows applications to run in the cloud using NTFS APIs. You can read more about Windows Azure Drive on the Windows Azure Team Blog.

Cloud computing holds a great deal of promise for admins looking for more flexible ways to allocate IT resources, but many IT pros I’ve spoken with over the last 12 months have a host of concerns about cloud computing. How will security be handled in the cloud? What happens if my cloud services provider loses my data? Or gets acquired? Or goes out of business? And what does the cloud mean for all of those thorny auditing, compliance and privacy issues? All of these questions will likely be addressed in the months and years to come, but I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on all these matters.

So are you using cloud-computing services now in your own IT environment, or are you sitting on the fence waiting for the segment to mature a bit more? Please drop me an e-mail and let me know what you think. I’ll select some of the best reader responses, print them in a future article, and send you a Redmond Media Group T-shirt in return.

Many thanks to Tim McMichael, Scott Schnoll, Bill Baer and Spencer Harbar for their technical input with TechNet Magazine content this month.

Jeff James is editor in chief of TechNet Magazine, and was formerly the editor in chief of Windows IT Pro magazine. He’s been writing about computers and technology since 1990. You can follow James on Twitter at Twitter.com/jeffjames3, or e-mail him at jjames@1105media.com.