Gartner: Microsoft AppFabric: A Platform for the Cloud Era Is Under Construction

Gartner released a new report regarding Microsoft Azure. An extract:

Microsoft's Windows Azure platform (WAp) was a key focus at Microsoft's recent Professional Developers Conference (PDC), where Microsoft also announced the next generation of its on-premises application server technology. Microsoft is in the midst of a strategic investment in the next generation of its platform infrastructure, aiming its platform technology toward the higher-end and broader markets than ever.

Key Findings

  • Windows Azure is the name of Microsoft's cloud operating system (OS). It is primarily an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, including both compute and storage capabilities. Based on Windows Server (WS) 2008, Windows Azure OS includes the traditional Microsoft WS application server technology and thus includes elements of a platform as a service (PaaS) as well.
  • WAp is the Microsoft PaaS offering — including the database management system (DBMS) as a service, application server as a service, enterprise service bus as a service and other components — to be delivered over time.
  • "AppFabric" is not the name of any product or service; however, WS AppFabric and WAp AppFabric are. WS AppFabric is an add-on layer over the traditional Microsoft WS application server technology that extends it into an advanced extreme transaction processing (XTP)-style application server (not a cloud service). WAp AppFabric is a middleware technology-as-a-service offering, at present limited to communication services.
  • A key part of Microsoft's cloud strategy is the hybrid Server/Service continuum, aimed at delivering application portability and skills continuity between its on-premises and on-cloud application infrastructure offerings. Microsoft plans to implement the hybrid Server/Service in future versions of WAp AppFabric, to be compatible with WS AppFabric.


  • Consider WS AppFabric stack as a competitive enterprise-class application server for on-premises, service-oriented architecture (SOA)-style business application projects, including those with XTP requirements (with the caveat of relative immaturity of some of the most recent additions).
  • Expect limited cloud elasticity from the early Windows Azure applications, making the use of Windows Azure OS as an application platform comparable more to Web hosting than to cloud computing.

The full 11 page report can be found at